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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for a “Wild Wednesday” at Wimbledon, including Djokovic and Murray

By Ricky Dimon

Some players will be kicking off their fortnights with rain-delayed first-round matches; others will be competing in the second round. Whatever the case, it should be a wild Wednesday at Wimbledon–as long as the weather is better than it was on Monday and Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are among those who will be back in action for their round-two contests. Ricky previews some of the top matchups and makes his picks.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Kevin Anderson

It will be a rematch of the 2018 Wimbledon final when Djokovic and Anderson meet again on Wednesday, this time in the second round. With Anderson coming off a semifinal marathon against John Isner three years ago, the championship match turned out to be a dud (Djokovic dominated 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(3)). Something similar can be expected for this one, because Djokovic is in stellar form with two Grand Slam titles already this season while Anderson continues to struggle physically. The 102nd-ranked South African, who scraped past Mario Tomas Barrios Vera in a fourth-set tiebreaker on Monday, has won only five matches in 2021.

Djokovic just won seven matches at the French Open alone, capturing his 19th slam title (second in Paris). There is no reason to think the two-time defending Wimbledon champion will suddenly slow down in London. Djokovic dropped a set to Jack Draper in round one, but he woke up to roll the rest of the way for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory. The world No. 1 is 9-1 lifetime against Anderson (a Laver Cup loss not included), highlighted by a 3-0 mark at Wimbledon. It’s impossible to see anything changing in this one.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

(Q) Oscar Otte vs. (WC) Andy Murray

There are legitimate concerns over Murray’s body holding up over back-to-back best-of-five matches, but at the same time you have to like this matchup for him. Otte is 6’4” German who has a big serve and forehand but does not move particularly well. Murray won’t have to play long points and the return of serve has always been one of the best parts of his game. Even if Otte is serving well, he is going to see a ton of balls come back in play.

To say Murray’s first-round match was a mixed bag would be a gross understatement. The 34-year-old Scot impressed on his way to a two-set and 5-0 lead against Nikoloz Basilashvili, but the ensuing third-set collapse–losing seven games in a row–was alarming. Murray righted the ship in the fourth for a 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win, but having to play an hour longer than necessary cannot help. On the bright side for the two-time Wimbledon champ, Otte went to 13-12 in the fifth against Arthur Rinderknech and had to finish the marathon on Tuesday instead of Monday. Murray has made a career out of breaking down one-dimensional opponents and he should have enough left in the tank to do that once again on Wednesday.

Pick: Murray in 3

Other top matches

Fernando Verdasco vs. (18) Grigor Dimitrov – There’s no telling what could happen in this match. These are two of the least reliable players on tour even when they are playing decent, and these days neither one has been playing much at all. But if Dimitrov is close to 100 percent physically, he should get the job done. Dimitrov in 5.

Sam Querrey vs. (11) Pablo Carreno Busta – Some matchups all come down to the surface. This is one of those matchups. Querrey is basically a grass-court specialist. He is coming off a runner-up showing in Mallorca and he reached the Wimbledons semis in 2017. Carreno Busta has never won a single match at Wimbledon. Querrey in 4.

Kei Nishikori vs. Alexei Popyrin: Nishikori can never be trusted from a physical standpoint, especially not in a best-of-five situation. Plus he has been dealing with a wrist injury. Popyrin is a power player who can take advantage of this opportunity on grass. Popyrin in 4.

(20) Aslan Karatsev vs. Jeremy Chardy: The Cinderella story of Aslan Karatsev may not be permanently over, but it is definitely on a leave of absence. He went 1-3 in his last four matches on clay and is 1-1 on grass so far this summer. The Russian has never played in the Wimbledon main draw. Chardy has the edge on grass right now. Chardy in 4.

Jiri Vesely vs. Marton Fucsovics – Vesely is a solid grass-court player; Fucsovics is a solid all-court player. Normally that would favor the grass guy, but Fucsovics is far tougher mentally and is coming off a great win over Jannik Sinner. I’ll go with the Hungarian. Fucsovics in 5.

Frances Tiafoe vs. Vasek Pospisil – Although an upset of Stefanos Tsitsipas is extremely encouraging for Tiafoe, you never know how a player builds on a big win from a mental standpoint. That being said, the American is the far better player at the moment. He will probably make this tougher than it needs to be, but he should win. Tiafoe in 4.

Ricky contributes to
 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.