By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Rafael Nadal [3] v Nick Kyrgios
  • Angelique Kerber [5] v Lauren Davis
  • Petra Kvitova [6] v Kristina Mladenovic
WIMBLEDON, UK – We are back in the quarter-of-doom on the women’s side, but on the men’s surely there is only one match anyone cares about?

 

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Rafael Nadal [3] v Nick Kyrgios | Tied at 3-3

If anyone tells you they are not even in the least bit curious about the outcome of this match, then they are either lying or you should check them for a pulse and call the emergency services.

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This is the very epitome of a popcorn match, and it is bonkers that we have it in round two, but here we are with Nick Kyrgios taking on Rafael Nadal in the second round. Of course, famously the first time they met was at SW19, in the fourth round, and Kyrgios got the upper-hand and became an Aussie hero overnight.

Fast forward just five years and a lot has happened. Kyrgios has soared and plummeted from grace, and still remains to many as tortured but talented genius. There is absolutely no doubt the boy can play when he wants to. Yet he dragged himself to five sets over compatriot Jordan Thompson.

The thing about this rivalry is that it is not just all one-way traffic from first one then the other – they have split their wins fairly evenly. So, what can we expect? Well surely some showboating and under-arm serves to punish how far back Nadal stands on the court – the man may as well be at the Ivy in Wimbledon Village.

Nadal has power, speed and finesse and will look to dictate play from the baseline, so the key for Kyrgios is to pick up free points on his serve and really look to utilising his all-court game. He does have one, as well as all the crowd-pleasing shots he can throw in. We can expect the unexpected, and if he takes the game to Nadal, not to mention getting under the Spaniard’s skin, we might just see the upset.

Prediction: Kyrgios in five sets.

 

Angelique Kerber [5] v Lauren Davis | Kerber leads H2H 1-0

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Defending champion Angelique Kerber will take on one of the most tenacious players on the tour, Lauren Davis. Many will remember the fall-down-dead battle she had with Simona Halep at the Australian Open, and this will be a tough encounter for the German. Davis sneaks in as a Lucky Loser into an unused wild-card berth and although Kerber is expected to come through in flying colours, a long encounter in the sun is probably something Kerber wants to avoid.

Both make movement very much the core of their game, and Davis on form has the kind of stamina that will not only push Kerber, but also frustrate her if she can’t impose her game. Both focus on making a player hit that extra ball, so the key will be for Kerber to play every bit as aggressively as Davis does, and almost over-hit her into submission.

Prediction: Kerber in straight sets.

 

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Petra Kvitova [6] v Kristina Mladenovic | Kvitova leads 7-1

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After her first round match, where Petra Kvitova admitted that she is not even choosing to hit on her days off to give her arm time to heal, it will be interesting to see whether this tactic will pay off against a resurgent Kristina Mladenovic.

Since pairing up with Sascha Bajin, there has been a definite upswing to Mladenovic’s fortunes, and she is still getting the results in the doubles, which has helped her singles game as well.

Interestingly this pair have never gone to a decider in the eight times they have played and while Kvitova has not played since Rome, Mladenovic got her best run in Nottingham this year reaching the quarter-final.

Kvitova came in undercooked but looked very strong in her opener, while Mladenovic got dragged to a decider.

Prediction: Kvitova in straight sets.

 

Play begins on Day Four at 11am on all courts except Centre Court and No. 1 Court, which start at 1pm (BST).

 

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