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Day Four Pick 'Em

Andy Murray strikes a forehand during his first round match.
by Courtney Nguyen
Thursday 28 June 2012

Ivo Karlovic (CRO) vs. Andy Murray (GBR) [4]: Mr. Murray's difficult march continues with this dangerous clash against the 6ft 10in, big-serving, saucy tweeting Croat. The story of this match is simple. Can Murray, one of the best returners in the game, handle the steep trajectory of the Karlovic serve? The Croat hasn't had a particularly strong year, having been beset with injuries and niggles, but he did beat Lleyton Hewitt just two weeks ago at the AEGON Championships at Queen's Club. Murray has never lost to Karlovic, though, holding a 3-0 head-to-head record. They haven't faced each other in four years, but Andy's a better player now than he was then. No doubt this is a potentially dangerous match, but I fully expect him to sail through.

Pick: Murray in three sets.

Did you know... Karlovic, the tallest man in tennis, is married? His wife Alsi stands a foot and a half shorter than him. She's 5ft 3in tall!

Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Milos Raonic (CAN) [21]: This North American battle pits two big serves against each other, so if you're planning to watch this one, bring your eye protection. While Raonic is the talk of tennis these days, brimming with potential and promise, Querrey is still working his way back to his 2010 form, when he won four titles, including at Queen's Club, and finished the year ranked inside the Top 20. But then a freak accident (he sat down and fell through a glass-top table) sidelined him for much of 2011, and only now is he starting to win matches and get his confidence up. He has the quality to challenge Raonic, the only question is whether he can bring the consistency.

Pick: Raonic in four sets.

Ana Ivanovic (SRB) [14] vs. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR): The last time these two met, Bondarenko came back from a set down in a nailbiter to oust Ivanovic in the first round of the U.S. Open, winning the match 9-7 in a third set tiebreak. That was, of course, during that prolonged Ivanovic slump, when she began her tumble down to outside the Top 60. But after hiring the former head of women's tennis at the LTA, Nigel Sears, as her coach almost a year ago, Ivanovic is on the rise. She's now firmly inside the Top 20 and finally making inroads at the Slams again. Let's not forget, the Serbian star made the semi-finals here in 2007.

Pick: Ivanovic in two sets.

Did you know... Ivanovic's younger brother Milos is at university in London?

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP): Dimitrov was the junior Wimbledon champion in 2008 and he says London is his favourite city because it's full of positive memories for him. He may be onto something, actually. The baby-faced Bulgarian made his first ATP Tour semi-final two weeks ago at Queen's Club and he's well-positioned to make the deepest run at a Slam in his career. These two have played once, on clay in 2011, and Dimitrov came out the victor. As for Baghdatis, who doesn't love watching the Cypriot? Always a crowd favourite, Marcos always finds a way to whip a crowd into a frenzy, even a traditionally demure one.

Pick: Dimitrov in four sets.

Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs. Brian Baker (USA): If you don't know about Brian Baker, you should stop and get to know him. Brian is the feelgood story in tennis, making his Wimbledon debut at the age of 27, after his injury ravaged body kept him off the tour for almost six years. He successfully navigated his way through qualifying and won his first match here at the All England Club on Tuesday. Don't let his ranking of No. 126 fool you. He has a huge opportunity here to progress to the third round of his first Wimbledon. It won't be easy, though. Nieminen is an experienced veteran who knocked out No. 14 seed Feliciano Lopez in the first round.

Pick: Baker in four sets.

Did you know... a year ago, Brian Baker and I (and probably you) had the same ATP ranking? We were both unranked.

Five more to watch (because if you want the best value, doubles is where it's at):

Tamira Paszek (AUT) vs. Alize Cornet (FRA): Will Tamira Paszek be able to follow-up her upset of Caroline Wozniacki, less than 24 hours ago, to get another win?

Benoit Paire (FRA) vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) [22]: Settle in for this match of two creative talents who would rather hit the shot that makes you go 'Wow!' than the one that wins them the point.

Laura Robson (GBR)/Heather Watson (GBR) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)/Sabine Lisicki (GER): The Baby Brits have been given a wildcard to represent Great Britain in doubles at the upcoming London Olympics and they couldn't be more excited.

Serena Williams (USA)/Venus Williams (USA) vs. Vesna Dolonc (SRB)/Olga Savchuk (UKR): When else would you ever get a chance to see either of the legendary Williamses out on Court 18?

Mona Barthel (GER)/Angelique Kerber (GER) vs. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) & Daniela Hantuchova (SVK): Four women ranked inside the Top 40 on one court. Like I said, value.


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