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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday July 1, 2022


A wonderful opening week at Wimbledon has set the table for an enticing weekend of marquee matchups.

Saturday’s slate of third-round matches is to die for, and the stakes get even higher on Sunday, when the round of 16 kicks off with a generation next blockbuster that nobody will want to miss.

Tennis Express

Here’s a look at four popcorn battles to come at SW19 this weekend:

Amanda Anisimova v Coco Gauff, Third Round, Saturday
Head-to-head: Gauff leads 2-1

Cocomania is back! But did it ever really go anywhere? Coco Gauff, the youngest player remaining in the singles draws at Wimbledon will face Amanda Anisimova in a rematch of the 2017 US Open girls singles final.

Anisimova, then 16, defeated Gauff 6-0, 6-2 in that match, but needed 10 championship points in the final game. It is that defiance that has characterized the pugilistic Gauff as she has risen from the top of the junior rankings to her perch at No.12 in the world over the last three seasons.

These days, it is Gauff who is considered to have the higher ceiling, and she lived up to the hype earlier this month when she reached her first major final at Roland-Garros. But don’t sleep on the talented Anisimova, a former World No.21 that possesses a blistering game.

Gauff is the more well-rounded and in-form player, but Anisimova has gone 27-10 this season with six top-20 wins. This one should be a cracker.

Not sure how much Gauff’s win over Anisimova on the Palermo clay last season should come into play – different surface, for one, and Anisimova is in a much better place as a player this year compared to last. That said, it counts for something.

Petra Kvitova v Paula Badosa, Third Round, Saturday
Head-to-Head: Kvitova leads 1-0

Everybody expects the world from the two-time champion when she steps on the Wimbledon grass, but Petra Kvitova hasn’t exactly been a juggernaut since 2014, the last year she won the title at SW19.

She entered the season with a 7-6 record at Wimbledon from 2015-2021. What's up with that? Add two wins to that total, as the Czech has shown some strong, determined tennis through two rounds, as she looks ahead to a mammoth clash with World No.4 Paula Badosa in third-round action on Saturday.

Badosa is not known for grass prowess but she has dropped just 8 games through two rounds – could this be the year she figures it out?

Stefanos Tsitsipas v Nick Kyrgios, Third Round, Saturday
Head-to-Head: Kyrgios leads 3-1

We had this one circled the minute the draw came out. A third-round clash between Tsitsipas and Kyrgios, for the right to head into week two with mega momentum. Tsitsipas has made a point of improving his grass-court tennis in 2022, and he has shored up his game nicely, going 8-2 on the surface and powering into the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2018.

Kyrgios, meanwhile, has garnered even more attention with his game – and attitude.

Did Nick Kyrgios really say this after his second-round win over Filip Krajinovic on Day 4?

“I’ve been working hard and you know, as I said, I've been preparing for this tournament. It's been circled on my calendar pretty much all year and I'm so excited to be here again. It's genuinely a tournament where I think it's my best chance to win a Grand Slam, of all the four,” the Aussie told the crowd.

We know Kyrgios circles date night with his girlfriend / muse on his calendar, but a tennis tournament? Pretty cool. The Aussie's enthusiasm could work in his favor against the No.4 seed, and so will the head-to-head.

Kyrgios topped Tsitsipas a few weeks ago in three sets in Halle, and he is effectively 3-0 against the Greek. Don’t let that head-to-head fool you, however: Tsitsipas’ only win over Kyrgios came at Laver Cup last year in Boston.

The Greek knows he’ll be in for a big test against Kyrgios, and here’s how he described the task:

“Well, there are players who get really motivated and motivated and hyped on playing better players,” Tsitsipas said of the World No.40. “Especially the top-10 Guys, I mean his success rate against the top-10 guys is higher than any other player on the tour. “That's where he finds motivation. That's where he finds all his inner powers to just come out, playing against them. He has a very good success rate at Wimbledon. He's someone that utilizes his serv very well, when he's on a good day.”

We expect it to be close, and the difference will hinge on how well Kyrgios handles the vicissitudes. He needs to keep a lid on his emotions if he really intends to be a week two difference maker.

Carlos Alcaraz v Jannik Sinner, Round of 16, Sunday
Head-to-Head:
Alcaraz leads 1-0

How cool is this? Two top-10 seeds, both 20 or younger, and both playing like future Wimbledon champions in the first week…

Alcaraz and Sinner will meet for the second time, and the first time at a major, and it most certainly will not be the last.

Both players are relatively inexperienced on the grass, but each has navigated the first week with aplomb, proving that he may have what it takes to be a force for years to come at Wimbledon.

Alcaraz said on court that he is improving so rapidly on grass that he may be a completely different player against Sinner than he was in his third-round win over Oscar Otte. If he’s any better, watch out. He hit 37 winners against 8 unforced errors in the third round, in an absolutely smoking performance.

Here’s how Alcaraz sums up his current relationship with the grass.

“Every match is a war, let's say,” he said. “Every match you can play unbelievable, you can play your worst match. Obviously on Monday was my first match on grass. It was really tough. Struff play unbelievable. I mean, in four, five days the training, the matches, you learn how to play more on grass, how to move more on grass.”

Sinner sauntered by John Isner impressively on Friday, and looks like he’s up for the challenge.

No matter who advances, it will be great to watch two of the rising forces of men’s tennis square off for the first time on the lush lawns of SW19.

 

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