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Argentina’s Guido Pella celebrates after beating South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in a Men’s singles match during day five of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Friday, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Argentina’s Guido Pella celebrates after beating South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in a Men’s singles match during day five of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Friday, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)|Associated Press

Wimbledon Middle Monday: Abrams picks men’s Round of 16 – Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Nishikori, Verdasco, Raonic, Querrey, Sandgren, more

Matches start at 6 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Wimbledon 2019
Monday, July 8, 2019

Generally known as the greatest day in tennis, the second Monday in London features all sixteen players left in both of the Men’s and Women’s draw playing in their Round of 16 matches to set up the exciting second week climax to the Championships.

The first week looked over an endless series of upsets in both draws, seeing the woman’s second seed (Osaka) and the men’s fifth (Thiem) and sixth (Zverev) seeds all lose on the first day of the tournament. But the upsets continued both on the Men’s side (bye-bye Isner, Cilic, Anderson, and Wawrinka) and the Ladies; (so long Vekic, Muguruza, Wozniacki, Kerber and Sabalenka), and a new face has emerged from the 128 women – 15-year old American Coco Gauff. Although she’s too young to play a full schedule of tournaments, her presence is sure to sell tickets wherever she is entered for the rest of the summer and through the end of the year.

The only man who has raised an eyebrow by making it to the Fourth Round is the Italian, Matteo Berrettini, a 23-year-old late bloomer who has the unfortunate task of playing the Maestro, Roger Federer, to reach the quarterfinals. Additionally, the United States has two men playing each other, Sam Querrey and Tennys Sandgren, to assure America a representative in the last eight. Neither is a contender for the championship, but getting this far is quite a feat in and of itself.

The French, who are already overrepresented in the World’s Top 100, now have another youngster to watch, in Ugo Humbert, a 21-year-old from Metz, France, who beat Gael Monfils, Marcel Granollers, and FAA to set up a meeting with top-seeded Novak Djokovic, after entering the tournament with a 6-13 record. But other than that, the status quo has been maintained as all three of the Big Three, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, have eased into the second week with nary a nick in their armor.

It wouldn’t be going too far to predict that one of the Big Three will eventually walk away with yet another Wimbledon championship. But which it will be is still the burning question in London.

As far as the Women go (see my picks here), there are still enough players left in the draw to think that the last week should be a series of wars and little personal turf battles. Ash Barty is still the overwhelming favorite to win her first Wimbledon, but with Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova still alive in her half, and Svitolina, Pliskova, and Halep still playing down below, the cast is set for a race to the finish line.

Men’s Picks
Round of 16

Djokovic over Humbert
Humbert deserves much credit for crashing into Week Two, but he won’t be able to beat Djokovic. He may have enough serves and reserves to take a set, but that’s about it.

Verdasco over Goffin
This will be the most competitive of the eight men’s matches. These two veterans have played six times with each taking three of the matches, but they’ve never played on grass. I give Verdasco an ever-so-slight edge because of the surface, but if you saw what Goffin did while down two sets to one against Medvedev, you know you can’t ever count him out.

Raonic over Pella
In his win over Anderson, the fourth seed, Guido Pella showed that he can take on the best and the biggest servers on grass and turn them back with few problems. Still, Anderson’s elbow was always a question mark, and in this one, it’s Raonic’s shoulder, and anytime a shoulder hurts, it can cripple a player who relies on his serve at any time. But Raonic hasn’t dropped a set yet, so I’m guessing he’s healthy enough to scrape through this match.

Bautista Agut over Paire
I’m as surprised as anyone else that Frenchman Paire has made the Round of 16, but when Zverev, the 6th seed, lost in the first round, it opened up a giant hole in the draw, and Paire was the proletariat who took advantage of it. The hole is now filled, and RBA, the brilliant Spaniard, should come through here with some ease.

Querrey over Sandgren
Querrey opened up his own path to the second week by taking out Thiem in the first round. Sandgren pushed his way into the Round of 16 by topping both Simon (with little controversy) and Fognini (after the Italian asserted that Wimbledon should be bombed—which obviously didn’t go over too well with the Brits, who saw parts of their grounds, in fact, bombed, by the Axis Powers in WWII). They both deserve to be here, but only one Yank will move on. It will be Querrey.

Nadal over Sousa
Sousa played his way into the upper echelon of men’s tennis last week by topping both Cilic and homeboy Dan Evans, and based on those results he certainly deserves to be here. But he’s got no chance against Nadal. Nadal’s just better.

Nishikori over Kukushkin
In a part of the draw that included Isner, Albot, Struff, Fritz, and Berdych, it is Russian Mikhail Kukushkin who squeezed out of that part like a winner on a TV game show. But guess what? He now plays Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who he’s 0-8 against. This is your Fourth Round slam dunk.

Federer over Berrettini
As well as Berrettini has played, he now plays the man who he can’t beat. Well, that’s not quite fair. They’ve never played, so who am I to say that Berrettini can’t win? What do you think?