Monday, June 23, 2008
The first day of Wimbledon is in the books, with almost all of the big stars getting through, such as Ana Ivanovic (who cruised), Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who was back on his home turf looking very stylish in a classic cardigan.
I liked that he came out and dropped the hammer on his good buddy, Dominik Hrbaty. Surprisingly, he'd never beaten him before. Hrbaty's really fallen by the wayside the past couple of years, though, and wasn't able to offer much resistance. R-Fed looked very sharp regardless, and didn't even relax too much after the changeover where Hrbaty sat next to him!
Serena, on the other hand, looked a little shaky. I thought Mary-Joe Fernandez made a great point this morning: She really needs to get back to establishing herself as the true favorite in these Slams, noting that she hasn't gotten past the quarters at a major since winning the Aussie last year. Djoko dropped a set, but I figured he'd be OK.
The biggest names to fall were David Nalbandian and Ivo Karlovic. When I was doing my predictions for the tournament, I originally had Djoko going against Nalbandian, but I figured it would be too risky since you never know which David will show up. So I went with Karlovic thinking, "Hey, he's won grass-court titles and he has to come through at a big one at some point, so why not now?" Let me tell you: The guy just doesn't have it up top. Never making a Major quarterfinal with his game? There's something wrong.
Well anyway, that section of the draw as far as my predictions go is blown for me! I think Marcos Baghdatis is now the favorite there, but I'd also watch out for what Frank Dancevic can do after knocking out Nalbandian.
Tomorrow has some interesting matches on tap. My pick on the women's side, Venus Williams, kicks things off, and Maria Sharapova is taking the court, too. These are a few, though, that would almost tempt me to call out sick for work to stay home and watch!
• Fabrice Santoro vs. Andy Murray (12): This, my friends, is a match to watch! No one out there likes playing against Santoro because of his style. Playing in his last Wimbledon, he's frustrated more guys to defeat than anyone this side of Brad Gilbert. If Murray, probably the most volatile player on tour, can keep his head in the game, he could get through this quickly. If not, it could be a very long day at the office. I'm going with Murray, though, and just to make it interesting, I'll say it'll be a five-setter.
• Richard Gasquet (8) vs. Mardy Fish: It's hard to pick which way to go with this one: Gasquet is way more talented than Fish, but is having some well-documented mental-toughness issues. This would be a perfect opportunity for Fish to make a statement, since grass is one of his favorite surfaces, but I said that last year when he played Rafael Nadal in the first round here and he ended up getting destroyed. I'll go with Gasquet in four. They're both major head cases and good grassers, but as I said, Gasquet has a little bit more game. It wouldn't shock me at all, though, if Fish won.
• Nicolas Mahut vs. Dmitry Tursunov (25): Mahut's the closest thing to a true grass-court specialist on the men's tour: You only hear his name for three to five weeks out of the year and that's it. Tursunov plays well at Wimbledon and his game is so big, it's hard to go against him in an early-round match here. However, that's just what I'm going to do! Mahut in four.
(Photo: Getty Images)