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Wimbledon Day Three: Pick 'Em

Roger Federer looks up into the crowd before his match against Albert Ramos.
by Courtney Nguyen
Wednesday 27 June 2012

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA): When it comes to making tennis look like a stroll in the park, you'd be hard-pressed to find two players better at it than Federer and Fognini. The perfectly groomed Italian (he of the eyebrows that look more meticulously manicured than the grass here at Wimbledon) is a talent and while he may struggle when playing smaller tournaments on outside courts, few raise their game on the big stage like Fabio. As there is no greater stage in tennis than Centre Court and no greater challenge than Federer, expect the fabulous Fabio to put on a show, one way or another. I fully expect Rog to sail through, but it won't be without a few entertaining antics from Fognini, who seems to treat life as though he's constantly being filmed for his own reality show. Keeping up with Fognini? I would totally watch that.

Pick: Federer in 3 sets.

Did you know...Fabio's nickname, which he's very proud of, is "Fogna", which translates to "sewage" in Italian.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Ryan Harrison (USA): This is the second bite of the apple for Harrison, who lost to Djokovic in straight sets last year in Cincinnatti. The talented American is not wont for intensity, playing every point with an air of determination and desperation that can sometimes (well, more often than not) cause him to boil over. It's not a surprising trait from Harry, who grew up idolising another fiery American, Andy Roddick, and now considers him a mentor. This will obviously be a tremendous experience for Red Ryan, who will need to serve well in order to have any chance of penetrating Djokovic's impervious game. As for Novak, he'll surely be up to the challenge from the start. He knows Ryan rolls over for no one.

Pick: Djokovic in 3 sets.

Maria Sharapova (RUS) [1] vs. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL): This is a potentially dicey match for the new World No.1, who cruised in her first round match but now faces grass specialist Pironkova. The Bulgarian has proven these past two years that she's one to reckon with at the Championships, making the semi-finals in 2010 and the quarter-finals in 2011. It's not like Pironkova is lucking out with easy draws, either. She's ended Venus Williams's campaign two years running, and beaten talented Wimbledon finalists Vera Zvonareva and Marion Bartoli. So if you want to impress your friends at the watercooler today, tell them you think Pironkova has a shot at pulling off the upset. They will say "Tsvetana Who?" and you can throw your cup of water in their face and walk away with a smug smile. Or not. Up to you.

Pick: Sharapova in 3 sets.

Did you know... this won't be your only glimpse of Pironkova here at the All England Club this year. She's just been officially named to the Bulgarian Olympic Team along with 2008 Junior Wimbledon champion Grigor Dimitrov. What exactly do they put in the water in Bulgaria?

Heather Watson (GBR) vs. Jamie Lee Hampton (USA): Here's some pub trivia for you: no Brit woman has progressed to the third round of Wimbledon since Elena Baltacha in 2002. Young Heather Watson has a tremendous opportunity to equal that mark here. This is Hampton's Wimbledon debut and she did well to get her first win in the first round, upsetting the No. 27 seed Daniela Hantuchova. But the American, who is one of the few women who isn't allergic to the net, isn't 100 percent physically, and Watson should be able to take advantage of that.

Pick: Watson in 3 sets.

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) vs. Angelique Kerber (GER) [8]: Kerber is one of the truly unheralded stories in women's tennis in 2012. Last year, she was ranked outside of the top 75 when she came into Wimbledon and proceeded to lose in the first round to Laura Robson, giving the 17-year-old prodigy her first main draw win at a Slam. A year on, Kerber is the winningest player on the WTA Tour this year, posting 41 wins in 2012, and has since made the quarter-finals or better at two Slams. She's one to watch over the fortnight, as she's probably your odds-on bet as the one woman who can stop Shazza before the final. Meanwhile, Makarova is a very accomplished grass-court player and she seems to find her nerve at the Slams. She ended Serena Williams's campaign at the Australian Open earlier this year and she beat defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova just a week ago in Eastbourne.

Pick: Kerber in 3 sets.

Did you know... devoted tennis fans like to call Kerber "Care Bear" because of how her last name is pronouced in German.

Five more to watch (because Michael Douglas says in "Wall Street": "Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works."):

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [7] vs. Tamira Paszek (AUT): I picked this as a match to watch yesterday and then it was suspended due to the rain. You should still watch to see this tough first-round test of the Dane.

Kim Clijsters (BEL) vs. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE): It's Kim's last Wimbledon. Every match is a must-watch.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [3] vs. Elena Vesnina (RUS): Can Vesnina pull off another shock-upset? She beat Venus Williams on Monday.

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs. Jerzy Janowicz (POL): Here's the test for Gulbis, who still has the distinction of being the man to pull off the upset of the tournament so far with his first-round ousting of No.5 seed Tomas Berdych: Can you play well when no one's watching? The Latvian talent goes from Centre Court on Monday to Court 17 today.

Ana Ivanovic (SRB) [14] vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP): The former No.1 has never beaten Martinez Sanchez, whose slice-and-dice game can make you scratch your head.

 


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