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Five to follow on Day Six

Bernard Tomic plays a powerful forehand.
by Nicholas McCarvel
Saturday 29 June 2013

There's plenty of tennis to be played on Saturday at Wimbledon as the tournament scurries with vigour to have that blessed day off - Middle Sunday - before the second week begins. What do we get because of it? A "Super Saturday" of sorts. So much so that I can barely hit on every big name and interesting match set to be played on this Day Six. Laura Robson is back for the second day in a row, but this time on No.2 Court. Who else is in action? Let's run through the storylines you'd be silly to miss out on...

Centre Court Goes Australian
Should we re-name Centre Court "Rod Laver Arena" just for an afternoon? It would be plenty appropriate as the two top players from Down Under are in action on tennis' biggest stage, with Bernard Tomic opening play against Richard Gasquet before big-hitting Sam Stosur takes on grass-loving Sabine Lisicki later in the afternoon. Tomic was few people's pick to come into this Championships and make a run like he did in 2011 as an 18-year-old (he made the quarter-finals that year), but the Australian has looked impressive in wins over Americans Sam Querrey and James Blake so far, and has a winnable fight vs. Gasquet, who is 2-0 in their head-to-heads and has a certain love affair with grass himself. For Lisicki, a failure to make week two at Wimbledon is flatly a disappointment, having made it that far in three of four appearances. But Stosur's 4-1 against the German, and like Tomic has been picking up steam on the green stuff.

Let's All Marvel at Kimiko Date-Krumm... Just for a Minute
Really, I promise: It's OK to praise Kimiko just for a bit, even if we've heard this story before. But this is something you may not have heard: the 42-year-old from Japan last made the third round here in 1996 when she was 25 years old, before Serena Williams had ever even played a professional tennis match (and was just 14 herself). Date-Krumm won four straight three-set matches that year before bowing out to eventual champion Steffi Graf in the semi-finals in, you guessed it, three sets. Date-Krumm is the oldest woman to ever make the third round here and could, yes, could give Serena a test on the green stuff: two years ago she took Venus Williams to an 8-6 in-the-third decision, the American squeaking through the Centre Court encounter.

To Be Continued
That was the call last night for several matches on court, felled by darkness after rain had halted them mid-way through the day. It was an announcement that came as a relief to well-known names Petra Kvitova (the 2011 champion here) and Sloane Stephens, both of whom had lost their way in matches that they had leads in. Kvitova took the first set against Ekaterina Makarova, but trailed 2-1 down in the third when play was stopped. The situation was seemingly more dire for Stephens, who won the first set against Petra Cetkovska in a tie-break before losing her way (and a little of her pride?) in a 6-0 drubbing in the second set. Both Stephens and Kvitova's names have been floated around as potentials to make a deep run in the depleted bottom half of the draw. But can they right their respective ships in round three?

Popcorn Match: Gulbis vs. Verdasco
There is a smattering of must-see women's matches on Saturday, but the match of all matches I'll be sure to have at least one eye on is the Ernests Gulbis vs. Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco is a former top 10 resident and Gulbis one who has been pegged to be a perennial top player himself, though he has yet to realize such potential. Verdasco is 2-1 against the Latvian, but Gulbis trotted by No.6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when the Frenchman retired in the fourth set after Ernests took a two-sets-to-one lead. Should Verdasco's penetrating lefty forehand be on and Gulbis be at his defensive best, we could see a thrilling five-set affair that so far has been largely missing from The Championships 2013.

No.3 Court... The Place to Be, Again
Should we re-name it The People's Court? Gulbis-Verdasco kick off what is to be a thrilling day on No.3 Court that sees the continuation of Sloane Stephens vs. Petra Cetkovska (they're at a set apiece), before Agnieszka Radwanska takes on young American Madison Keys, Li Na faces Klara Zakopalova and the Bryan brothers - the top seeds in men's doubles - meets doubles expert David Marrero and his partner, Andreas Seppi. Radwanska continues to look to match her final performance from 2012, but the 18-year-old Keys is a rising star and has a dangerously big forehand that drives her baseline game. And can Li avoid the roller-coaster struggle that was her round two? She'll have to against the dangerous Czech, who has twice been to the fourth round at a major.

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