Monday, 2 July 2012

Wimbledon Day Seven

The only thing which can disrupt the proclaimed 'greatest day in tennis' is the unpredictable nature British summer weather.

A sketchy forecast stands to upset the day that all male and female singles competitors left at this years Wimbledon compete.

(Andy Murray broke tournament curfew to beat Marcus Baghdatis today he faces Marin Cilic on court one Picture: Getty Images)

Through to this stage for a sixth time is Andy Murray. The world number four overcame a 11pm curfew and a tricky opponent last time out and today may have to battle the elements as well as a 6 ft 6 talented opponent.  Marin Cilic, has a quality serve and power on both wings and also has beaten the home favourite at grand slam level before. The Croat humbled Murray at US Open in 2009 during his ascension to the world's top ten. Still only 23 Cilic looks to be heading back in that direction and was a winner two weeks ago at Queens.

Controversially this contest takes place on court one, leaving Murray at the mercy of British weather. This is the first time this tournament Murray has been shifted court one and it could hardly come at a worse time. The extra rest from a rain delay could be vital, it took him over five hours to see off Sam Querrey in the second longest match in Wimbledon history.

(Roger Federer faces Xavier Malisse a dangerous grass court specialist Picture: Reuters)

Roger Federer is first up on centre court in what is likely to be his second appearance under the roof. Julien Benneteau could hardly have come closer to beating the 16 time grand slam champ under roof and lights on Friday and today will teach us more about Federer's title credentials. A notoriously fantastic indoors player Federer starts heavy favourite against Xavier Malisse. The Belgian has an excellent grass court record and has already beaten Gilles Simon and Fernando Verdasco to reach this spot. Possessing greater power than Federer's French opponent in the previous round Malisse cannot be written off. But having won the last nine meetings against Malisse, the Swiss will be hopeful of moving one step closer to record equaling seventh singles title at SW19.

Also given centre court billing ahead of Murray is world number one, Novak Djokovic. Today he meets a player he first faced at the age of nine in countryman, Viktor Troicki. Djokovic holds an air of superiority over his Davis Cup teammate. The 25 year old has won 11 of his 12 meetings with Triocki. Troicki has a powerful game but nobody is harder to push out of position than the world number one.

(David Ferrer has never reached a Wimbledon quarter final to change that he must beat Juan Martin Del Potro Picture: Bettor)

One of the most intriguing clashes of the day pits seventh seed David Ferrer against Juan Martin Del Potro. The two had a gigantic battle in last year's Davis Cup final and both are playing arguably the best tennis they've ever produced at Wimbledon. Ferrer took out three time finalist Andy Roddick and now looks to be comfortable on his worst surface. While Del Potro came out on the losing end of the best match at last year's Wimbledon in a tight four set match with Rafael Nadal. How the wily 30 year old tries to counter his more powerful opponent will be fascinating.

(Jo Wilfried Tsonga hasn't been broken all tournament today he faces Mardy Fish Picture: Bettor)

Yet to lose his serve more and more people are beginning to believe this tournament will see Jo Wilfried Tsonga reach his second grand slam final. Today's opponent for him is tenth seed Mardy Fish who took out talented 21 year old David Goffin in round three. Fish looked out on his feet against James Ward in the second round and will have been relieved to have wrapped up a straight sets win last time out. Returning from heart problems and not at his peak the American may find Tsonga too difficult to overcome.

The great comeback story of this tournament has been Brian Baker. The American was a standout junior but his professional career has been crippled with injury. Now after multiple surgeries Baker is proving to be a top 50 caliber player maybe even better. Today the American faces a tough test of his credentials against the talented Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German took out Nadal's conqueror Lukas Rosol in the third round and despite multiple fourth round appearances has never reached a grand slam quarter final. Opportunity knocks for one of these two men.

(A reinvigorated Ana Ivanovic returns to the big stage against Victoria Azarenka today Picture: Zimbio)

The glamour tie on the women's side today sees Victoria Azarenka face Ana Ivanovic. Two of the most marketable and talented women in tennis, a lot of eyes will be on centre court when these two do battle. Ivanovic has undergone career rehabilitation and has shown signs of getting back towards her best with work under new coach Nigel Sears paying dividends. Sears, father of Andy Murray's girlfriend Kim, has been working with Ivanovic for a year now and been looking to add variety to the power game which earned the Serbian the world number one ranking and French Open title a few years ago. While Ivanovic is looking to reemerge as a top player, Azarenka is one. The Belarusian has slipped under the radar at Wimbledon this year much like last year, where it took a mammoth effort from champion Petra Kvitova to beat her in the semi-finals.

A repeat of the other Wimbledon women's semi-final kicks off the action on court one where Maria Sharapova meets Sabine Lisicki. Lots of people's pick for the tournament if Sharapova's serve is working expect the world number one to breakdown the big serving German.

Reigning champion Petra Kvitova has been ruthless in her progression to fourth round and could outpower her opponent today. Francesca Schiavone has the unenviable task of trying to stop the dominant Czech. Schiavone has progressed nicely after being given a huge scare in her first round match against Britain's Laura Robson.

One of the biggest stories of a memorable first week at Wimbledon was Yaroslava Shedova's golden set. The first ever seen at Wimbledon where she won every single point of her first set against Sara Errani. The unthinkable milestone was incredibly impressive due to the calibre of her opponent. Errani had contested the French Open final a mere three weeks prior to their match. Shedova faces a big challenge in repeating the feat against four time champion at SW19 Serena Williams. The American was fortunate in her third round contest Jie Zheng and only her serve saved her from an early exit. Williams powered down an excellent 23 aces en route to a 6-7 6-2 9-7 victory.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Wimbledon Day Six

Roger Federer the most successful men's tennis player of the Open Era was overcome with nerves and barely beat a player he would normally steamroll. Undoubtedly effected by the loss of Rafael Nadal, the 16 time grand slam champion, beat Julien Benneteau coming back from two sets down to advance though to the fourth round.

(A noticeably nervy Roger Federer had to come from two sets down to beat Julien Benneteau. How will Murray handle to pressure today? Picture: Reuters)

So if the added pressure of the absence of the world number two is effecting Federer, what will Andy Murray's psyche be like? The great British hope will have suffered extra media attention and added hype now the Spaniard who's conquered him three times at Wimbledon is gone.

Today will not be easy for Britain's number one. Marcos Baghdatis is an exciting shot-maker who loves a show-court and is a former semi finalist here. The Cypriot is also coached by Murray's former coach. Miles Maclagan, who oversaw Murray's rise to number four in the world and will undoubtedly have a detailed game plan on how to stop his former protege.

(Marcos Baghdatis is hoping to end British hopes today will Murray's former coach Miles Maclagan have the gameplan to take out Murray Picture: Getty Images)

Before Murray can continue his run, centre court will see an intriguing intense battle between two of the mentally strongest players of their generation. David Ferrer takes on Andy Roddick in their first ever Wimbledon battle. Two contrasting players whose head to head is split 6-4 in the Spaniard's favour, have never met at Wimbledon before and their meeting is on paper the most thrilling of the day.

While only separated by a year, the two player's careers seem to be heading in opposite directions. Ferrer at 30 is arguably playing the tennis of his life. The world number six made his first French Open semi-final last month and remains one of the most dogged competitors on tour. Much talk surrounding the American however is about his apparent retirement at the end of this year. Roddick's added grass court nous could make the difference in what's likely to be one of the toughest battles of the tournament.

(Three time finalist Andy Roddick faces stern test against David Ferrer who's won six of their ten meetings Picture: Getty Images)

Jo-Wilfred Tsonga is now the projected semi-final opponent for Murray but as Lukas Rosol emphatically proved on Thursday sport is not played on paper. Slovakia's Lukas Lacko is the athletic Frenchman's next opponent, he took out Jurgen Melzer to reach the third round.

Juan Martin Del Potro is among those likely to fancy their chances of reaching the Wimbledon final now a certain Nadal is absent from the bottom half of the draw. He takes on Kei Nishikori- a dangerous ball striker now firmly established in top 20 after initially struggling with the physicality of men's tennis.

(Queens Champion Marin Cilic could meet Andy Murray in the fourth round today he faces big hitting, Sam Querrey Picture: The News)

Should the world number four be victorious on centre court he will return on Monday to face either Sam Querrey or Marin Cilic. Two six and a half feet giants- both suit grass perfectly and have like Murray won the Aegon Championships. They met at Wimbledon three years ago where Cilic was victorious in five tough sets. Today could be another close call.

Tenth seed Mardy Fish's health will once again be tested against the impressive 21 year old David Goffin. The Belgian took out last year's quarter finalist Bernard Tomic en route to this clash and may out last Fish who looked fatigued in his five set win over British number three James Ward.

(Will today be the day we find out why Lukas Rosol is ranked 100? Philipp Kohlschreiber is his next opponent Picture: Sporting Life)

Arguably the most intriguing match of the day takes place on court 12 where Lukas Rosol will look to replicate his colossal hitting which saw him blast Nadal out of this year's competition. He plays the other man to beat the Spaniard during this year's grass court season, Philipp Kohlschreiber. Seeded 27 the German offers a stern test as to whether the Czech can replicate the performance of a lifetime. He took out countryman Tommy Haas in the opening round  which was a brutal first round draw for the 28 year old. Chances are today is the day we see why Rosol is ranked 100 in the world but if he beats Kohlschreiber emphatically tennis could have a new superstar.

Serena Williams looking for a fifth Wimbledon singles title, takes on Jie Zheng in a repeat of a 2008 Wimbledon semi final. Williams looked in ominous form in her second round Melina Czink and will be extremely hard to beat.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova was merciless in her 6-0 6-4 destruction of Britain's Elena Baltacha. The 22 year old faces Varvara Lepchenko of the United States on court one today.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Wimbledon Day Five

After a colossal upset saw Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon campaign come to a dramatic halt, expectation and excitement has reached its peak at Wimbledon as the action continues.

Lukas Rosol  the world number 100 shocked the world when he blasted the world number two off court, producing three aces and a bullet forehand to defeat the former champion with Sampras-esque ease.

(Lukas Rosol stunned the world by knocking out Rafael Nadal can anybody take inspiration from Czech today? Picture: BBC)

The ability of the 25 year old making his first appearance at Wimbledon to not let the occasion get to him and to dismantle Nadal's second serve was nothing short of incredible. However the match was not short of controversy. The Spaniard appeared to have finally found an answer for his inspired opponent, wrapping up the fourth set 6-2 when play was stopped for 40  minutes so the final set could be played under the roof.

Nadal was not pleased with this decision and was unimpressive for the opening three sets of the contest. He made an uncharacteristic number of errors on his normally lethal forehand and also conceded his serve with a double fault at the start of the second set. This is not to take away Rosol's performance which is likely to be talked about for decades. Nadal had made the final in his past five appearances at Wimbledon.

Few people would have been more delighted with Nadal's exit than six time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer who famously has a poor record against the world number two and lost the glorious 2008 final here to the 26 year old.

(Roger Federer's chances of winning a seventh Wimbledon dramatically increased when Nadal was beaten. He plays Julien Benneteau today Picture: Getty Images)

Hoping to reach his 33rd straight grand slam quarter final a record that can truly be appreciated after last night's result, Federer faces Julien Benneteau. The 30 year old Frenchman who has a very solid game but lacks the brilliance in attack and defence to truly trouble the Swiss.

The man who had contested the last four grand slam finals with Nadal, Novak Djokovic is first up on centre court against Radek Stepanek. Stepanek employs a strange serve and volley style on grass but this suits Djokovic perfectly. The Serbian's return game is legendary and he also possesses excellent passing shots, so while the Czech is good enough to make the match exciting, he probably can't stop the world number one.

Only two men in the half Nadal exited are in action today. The towering figures of Milos Raonic and Sam Querrey tied at one set all and 3-3 in their third set. Both remain potential dangerous opponents and could cause Andy Murray a headaches if they play him in the fourth round, as both possess giant serves.

(Richard Gasquet faces big challenge against Nicholas Almagro but will fancy chances of at least a quarter final appearance Picture: TennisHeads)

Much has been made of the death of the serve volley at this year's tournament but another component of the game rarely utilised in 2012, is the one-handed backhand. Court one's final match today showcases two players with outstanding one-handers. Nicholas Almagro battles Richard Gasquet to progress to the fourth round in another wide open part of the men's draw. Tomas's Berdych's  shock exit and Ernests Gulbis's loss to a qualifier in the second round means the winner here should be reaching the last eight. They will be playing either Florian Mayer or Jerzy Janowicz, two players with little experience of the latter stages of grand slams.  Gasquet's attacking game suits grass perfectly while Almagro is more comfortable on clay. However the Frenchman's mental short-comings could once again haunt him.

Janko Tipsarevic is the highest seed outside of Djokovic and Federer in the top end of the draw. Tipsarevic takes on Mikael Youznhy the fiery Russian who has a very similar game to the Serb in what could be a very close match.

Heather Watson has lit up Wimbledon with her infectious smile and endless energy but her run here could come to an end against number three seed Agnieska Radwanska. The Polish counter puncher hasn't quite matched her success on the WTA Tour at the grand slam level but should have the experience to end British dreams on centre court.

The sign of a true champion is winning when playing badly and that is exactly what Maria Sharapova did yesterday closing out the third set of her battle against Tvesta Pironkova. Today for the world number one, it's Su Wei Hsieh from Chinese Taipei. Ranked 63 in the world the 26 year old may use Rosol's heroics last night as inspiration.

(Former Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva will look to hand Kim Clijsters her final ever competitive defeat at the All England Club Picture: Zvonareva Official)

A repeat of the 2010 US Open final pits Kim Clijsters against Vera Zvonareva. If the Russian keeps her emotions in check she certainly has the potential to make this Clijsters last ever appearance at Wimbledon. Two Americans hoping to be America's next great female champion are in action today. Christina McHale seeded 28, faces a tough contest against Germany's Angelique Kerber. Coming into the tournament ranked 8 Kerber, is a genuine dark horse having had a great season backing up a US Open semi-final appearance last year.

Sloane Stephens is another American with a bright future. Backing up a fourth round appearance at the French Open last month the 19 year old could be the natural successor to the Williams sisters at the top of women's tennis in the US. Her opponent will be familiar to the SW19 crowd, Sabine Lisicki who made it all the way to semi-finals last year and won over the British tennis public with her huge first serve and massive smile.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wimbledon Day Four

The benchmark was set for all men's tennis players to reach last night, as the world number one Novak Djokovic was in imperious form beating Ryan Harrison in three fantastic sets.

Harrison played very close to his maximum in the match of the tournament so far last night, under the centre court roof.

Someone who will look to match Djokovic is the home hope, Andy Murray. The world number four demolished Nikolay Davydenko and now faces quite literally a much bigger test in 6 ft 10 Ivo Karlovic.

(Andy Murray faces a tall task against Ivo Karlovic today in his second round match picture: Radio Times)

The giant, famous for his serve, which when firing is unplayable, possesses little quality apart from this huge weapon but if that aspect of his game is firing, it will take great concentration from one of the game's best returners to advance through to the third round.

Also in action on centre court is Rafael Nadal who should face little opposition against Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol.

(Milos Raonic faces first real challenge of his Wimbledon credentials against, former Queens champion, Sam Querrey Picture: Canadian Press).

A match almost certain to see a couple of tie-breaks is Sam Querrey versus Milos Raonic. Two tall powerful men who serve big, Raonic is seen by many tennis experts as a future world number one and could potentially upset Murray in the fourth round this year. Querrey however reminded everyone how effective he was on grass reaching the Queens semi-finals and if he is at his best could upset the young upstart.

Britain's James Ward is in second round action against Mardy Fish. The British number three hasn't quite progressed since his Queens semi-final last year and faces a tough task against the world number 12. An irregular heartbeat forced the American out of this year's French Open and question marks over the 30 year old's health might open the door for an upset.

(James Ward faces tough task today against Mardy Fish Picture: Getty Images)

David Ferrer and Andy Roddick both look to continue their progress. The two popular players are returning to SW19 for the third straight day as weather has begun to play havoc with the Wimbledon schedule. The tournament directors are under severe pressure to get all second round matches wrapped up today. Ferrer and Roddick  take on Kenny De Schepper and Bjorn Phau respectively.

Gilles Simon has caused quite a stir this week with his criticism of equal pay in men's and women's tennis. The Frenchman will be keen to highlight his talents as he takes on grasscourt specialist Xavier Malisse. His countryman Jo Wilfred Tsonga was immense against Lleyton Hewitt and may be most likely to upset the top four in the men's game. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is his second round opponent.

Two crowd favourites meet in a match which could beat them all for entertainment today. Grigor Dimitrov plays Marcus Baghdatis with the winner taking on the victor in the Karlovic Murray contest. Dimitrov won over the crowd and nearly the title at the Aegon Championships two weeks ago and his warm personality and incredible shot variety is likely to continue to win supporters in England. His opponent, Baghdatis had the crowd in the palm of his hands throughout his memorable third round clash with Djokovic last year and will be keen to stunt the 21 year old's progress.

Women's world number one, Maria Sharapova, is returning to complete her second round clash with Tsveta Pironkova after an almighty scare at the close of play yesterday. The Bulgarian squandered  four set points before relinquishing control to the number one seed who at 7-6 and 3-1 up in the second set is closing in on victory.

(Maria Sharapova was rattled yesterday but survived scare to take a set and break lead picture: Anja Niedringhas)

Reigning champion Petra Kvitova overcame nerves to come through in straight sets in her first match 6-4 6-4 and now faces one of the five Brits still in the singles competition at this year's Wimbledon. Elena Baltacha faces a huge challenge against the world number four and may need the powerful Czech to be completely overcome with nerves to stand any chance of progressing further. Anne Keothavong also faces a tough task against last month's French Open finalist, Sara Errani. Whilst Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are also scheduled for second round competition today.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Wimbledon Day Three

The shock opening round exits of John Isner and Tomas Berdych leave the top half of the men's singles draw at Wimbledon short of credible challengers for Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Federer who played so serenely on Monday showing all facets of his game in a simplistic 6-1 6-1 6-1 victory over Albert Ramos, plays the charismatic Italian Fabio Fognini.

The Swiss should be too good for the world number 68 and hopefully the 30 year old will once again feel confident to serve and volley. The nearly extinct tactic, is so pleasing on the eye when performed by the six time champion at SW19.

Djokovic's contest might be more competitive and should be more interesting as he takes on a player tipped for big things in America's Ryan Harrison. Harrison at 20 is the second youngest player in the top 50 behind Bernard Tomic and was also the only man other than Djokovic to take a set of Andy Murray during this year's Australian Open.

               ( Can rising star Ryan Harrison trouble the world number one picture: Tennis World)

Whether tactically or mentally Harrison is ready to go toe to toe with the world number one is another thing. The youngster showed immaturity failing to put away Gilles Simon at this years Roland Garros and has also been known to struggle to keep his temper in check.

Kim Clijsters plays Andrea Hlavackova of Austria. Should the 29 year old lose it will be her last ever match at the All England Club. Returning in 2009 after giving birth to a daughter, the Belgian has arguably had more success than in her first run, returning to the top of the women's rankings and winning three grand slam titles.

(If Kim Clijsters loses today she will be her last appearance at Wimbledon picture: Indian Express)

Eight years since lifting the title as a teenager this could well be the year that Maria Sharapova once again reigns supreme at Wimbledon. The Russian takes on Tsvetana Pironkova. The world number one cannot afford to be complacent against the Bulgarian who eliminated Venus Williams in 2010 and 2011.

On Monday Heather Watson acted as the catalyst for an impressive series of British first round wins at Wimbledon. The 20 year old is one of five Brits safely through to round two. She'll face Jamie Lee Hampton, an unseeded American who upset Daniela Hantuchova in round one.

Wimbledon Day Two

When the draw was made for the first round matches, one match stood out ahead of all the others, Lleyton Hewitt versus Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

The two players with a history of success at SW19, at opposite stages of their career, who play with contrasting styles, will battle it out on court one. It is a mouth-watering prospect. 

The younger man, Tsonga enters the match ranked at his highest ever ranking of five in the world coming off the back of his best ever French Open, is perhaps now ready to win his first major title.

(A dejected Tsonga will hope to overcome French Open heartbreak and finger injury against Hewitt today picture: TennisHeads) 

Hewitt remains one of the most dogged competitors on tour and regardless of ranking and match fitness, always comes to Wimbledon ready for a fight. This year the former world number one is currently outside the top 200 and has barely played since January due to having a plate inserted in his toe.

Whilst Tsonga has the faster serve as well as power and athleticism that every male tennis player envies, Hewitt is no stranger to beating and competing against more powerful opponents. In a memorable evening match in Melbourne at this year's Australian Open, Hewitt took out Milos Raonic a young man with the serve and power on tour to trouble even the ‘big three’. Recent years at Wimbledon have seen the 31 year old defeat Juan Martin Del Potro and push Robin Soderling to five sets, two giants who crush tennis balls with real venom.

(Ten years on from his triumph at Wimbledon Hewitt will look for another run at SW19 picture: Telegraph) 

The Frenchman’s mentality may be the deciding factor coming off what he described as “The toughest loss of his career”, to Novak Djokovic at the French Open. Will he be inspired or emotionally exhausted? The 27 year old only managed one win at Queens in his grass-court preparation before losing tamely to Ivan Dodig of Croatia. Tsonga is also said to be suffering with a finger injury. 

The other half of the men’s top four begin their campaigns on centre court today with both players keen to not waste physical or emotional energy early in the more competitive bottom half of the draw.

British hope Andy Murray, once again enters the All England Club under immense scrutiny and media pressure, begins today against former world number three Nikolay Davydenko.

While a quality player who at the peak of his career was rarely ranked outside the top ten and having won four of his nine meetings with the Scot could be dangerous. The fact remains the same the diminutive Russian hates grass. During his decorated career the 31 year old has only reached the second week once and Murray should come through this intriguing opener.

(Andy Murray begins his campaign against Nikolay Davydenko today picture: The Sun) 

Rafael Nadal meanwhile begins against talented Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. The 24 year old Bellucci however is most comfortable on clay and has never advanced beyond the third round at Wimbledon, so expect the two time champ to win with relative ease.

Another Brit hoping to advance to round two is Jamie Baker. The Glaswegian is back among the world’s top 200 after a serious blood disease nearly took his life.

Incredibly after a fantastic recovery Britain’s number two will get his moment in the spotlight against a three time finalist at Wimbledon, Andy Roddick. Rumours have been circulating that this year will be the former world number one’s last on tour. But the 29 year old forced those ready to write his career obituary to re-think, winning Eastbourne last week and also picking up a 600th win on tour along the way.

Two potential stars of the future meet on court two when, last year’s surprise quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic, meets David Goffin of Belgium. Goffin pushed Federer in the fourth round of Roland Garros last month losing out in four close sets after only qualifying for the tournament as a lucky loser.

Tomic proved his quarter final run was no fluke, reaching the last 16 of his home slam, at the Australian Open in January. At 19 and 21 respectively, these are two names to look out for over the next few years.

Ninth seed Del Potro is also in action against dangerous Dutchman, Robin Haase. The big hitting 25 year old took two sets off Nadal here during his 2010 winning run and also took a two set lead at last year’s US Open against Murray, before the Scot pegged him back.

Petra Kvitova begins her title defence first up on centre court. Meanwhile second seed Victoria Azarenka starts after losing her number one ranking to Maria Sharapova last month.

Many people’s pick for the women’s title Serena Williams is also in action today.

Laura Robson will hope to take inspiration from Heather Watson’s victory last night, as she clashes with 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Wimbledon Day One

Novak Djokovic's defence of his Wimbledon crown begins on Monday as the world number one takes on another man who has reached the zenith of men's tennis.

(Djokovic hoping to defend crown: picture: BBC)

Former world number one, Juan Carlos Ferrero will encounter Djokovic in centre court's inaugural contest and represents a genuine challenge for the Serb.

While past his peak the Spaniard has a decent record at Wimbledon.Twice a quarter-finalist in the past six years, this is the best he's achieved recently at any of the sport's majors.

The 32 year old possesses the mental fortitude required to reach the top of the game and also has adapted an attacking solid no thrills game that has brought him success in recent years against flashier players at the four big tournaments in the tennis calendar.

The former French Open champ has seen off Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils recently in Grand Slams by keeping a consistent level and managing his game against opponents of greater talents but more prone to inconsistency.  

(Former world number one Ferrero will look to cause a major upset picture: Daily Mail) 

There is a good chance this match could resemble Ferrero's 2009 quarter-final appearance when the Spaniard was dominated by Andy Murray in three one sided sets. Yet, should Djokovic play too passively or get nervous, Ferrero has the game and self-belief to make it an arduous struggle for his 25 year old opponent.

Perhaps the most interesting element of this match up will be Djokovic's psyche. The man from Belgrade was visibly constrained during Roland Garros, rarely playing his best tennis, struggling with the pressure of trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major prizes in tennis.

The Serb still reached his first ever French Open final and won eight games in a row against Rafael Nadal during the final. Interestingly Djokovic recovered from a giant setback to win the crown at SW19 last year.

The other men's clash on Centre Court matches sixth seed, Tomas Berdych against talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

This intriguing clash sees one of the world's best players pitted against a man many tennis experts predicted to be among the best, three to four years ago. 

Gulbis's fall from grace and failure to reach full potential is one of the most curious stories in the sport. 

The 23 year old sits 87th in the world with a losing record at tour level this year, but has shown signs of top ten class during his eventful early career. 

(Ernests Gulbis hoping for one of the biggest wins of his career against Berdych picture: Getty Images)

In 2008 Gulbis was the only man, other than Roger Federer, to take a set of Nadal en route to his championship victory at Wimbledon. The Latvian was being listed alongside Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray and Marin Cilic as tennis's brightest new stars. 

Despite possessing a ferocious serve and powerful groundstrokes, Gulbis has gone backwards. Many cite his partying lifestyle and dislike of training as the crucial factors behind his decline.

In an interview with The Times Gulbis the world number 87 talked of his love of: “all women”, suggesting a player who likes to play as hard as he works. This formula seems unlikely to bring success when you compare Gulbis’s attitude and commitment to that of the dedicated top four ranked players in the game.

On the court I suspect Berdych to be too consistent and too good for the immature Latvian but few unseeded players have greater potential to cause a major upset.

The match of the day is first up on court one when David Nalbandian plays his first match after inadvertently kicking a line judge in the final of Queens.

The Argentine’s moment of madness caused a great stir throughout the tennis world with his rash kick, causing some to call for the 30 year old’s suspension.

The ATP deemed removal of his ranking points and prize money at the Aegon Championships punishment enough. The man looking to unruffle the former world number three is Jarko Tipsarevic.

The Serb has been very consistent this year backing up a great hardcourt season last term which saw him break into the World’s top ten for the first time in his career.

Nalbandian may win in five close sets but a safer prediction is that the former Wimbledon finalist gets booed in an explosive opening round contest.

(Pantomime villain David Nalbandian will be in action in mouth-watering opener against Tipsarevic picture: Getty Images.)

Perhaps the most popular player at the championships, Roger Federer, also opens his campaign on day one, he should have no trouble against Spaniard Albert Ramos.

Other matches of interest include Britain’s Oliver Golding taking on Igor Andreev. Golding was victorious at last year’s junior US Open championship and will be making his first senior appearance at a Grand Slam but may fancy his chances against the unpredictable Russian.

A former top 20 player with a huge forehand Andreev has floundered in recent years and could be the perfect opponent for the talented Londoner.

With the total domination of men’s tennis by the ‘big three’, genuine dark horses are hard to come by but one player capable of putting together a strong challenge is 11th seed John Isner.

The American who became a household name when he won the longest match takes on a man who very nearly also became world renowned due to a historic win at Wimbledon.

Alejandro Falla was two sets up against then reigning champion, Federer on the opening day of Wimbledon in 2010 before the Swiss pegged him back to win in five sets.

A final potential five setter on day one is the all French clash between number 18 seed Gilles Simon and Paul Henri Mathieu. After crippling injury Mathieu provided an unforgettable moment at this year’s Rolland Garos defeating Isner in a five setter in front of nearly 15,000 home fans on Phillippe Chattier Court.

The epic was a reminder of the qualities and talent that made the 30 year old a top 20 player and whilst his opponent remains amongst the world’s top 20 he may struggle to scupper his countryman’s momentum.

Maria Sharapova ,number one seed and pre-tournament favourite, begins against Poland’s Anastasia Rodionova. While two former world number ones meet on court one as Jelena Jankovic collides with Kim Clijsters.

Elsewhere US Open champion Sam Stosur begins against clay court specialist Carla Suarez Navarro. Despite having a game that suits grass perfectly, the Australian has exited at this stage two years running.