Elite hold­ing serve

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - BILL SCOTT

Con­tin­ued suc­cess from the top four men play­ers in the world has set up a clas­sic mid­dle Mon­day at Wim­ble­don with the elite group all mov­ing into the fourth round to­gether. No one is less sur­prised than Roger Fed­erer (above), chas­ing a record eighth tro­phy at the All Eng­land club. The No. 3 seed head­lines the jam-packed start of week two at Wim­ble­don as he plays Grigor Dim­itrov for a quar­ter­fi­nal place.

LON­DON — Con­tin­ued suc­cess from the top four men play­ers in the world has set up a clas­sic mid­dle Mon­day at Wim­ble­don with the elite group all mov­ing into the fourth round to­gether.

No one is less sur­prised than 35-year-old Roger Fed­erer, chas­ing a record eighth tro­phy at the All Eng­land club. The Swiss third seed head­lines the jam-packed start of week two at Wim­ble­don as he plays Grigor Dim­itrov for a quar­ter­fi­nal place.

“I think it’s great. I’m not that sur­prised be­cause I thought that ev­ery­body this week was go­ing to find their form, es­pe­cially speak­ing about Andy and No­vak. So I thought they did it very well,” Fed­erer said. “With me, I hoped I was go­ing to be there. Whereas with Rafa’s con­fi­dence, I thought he was also go­ing to be there.

“It’s im­por­tant to get through to the sec­ond week,” the 18-time Grand Slam win­ner con­tin­ued. “It’s al­ways a good feel­ing. The first goal at ev­ery Grand Slam is to get into the sec­ond week. I’ve done that again. I’ll be happy to re­lax a day [Sun­day] and come back strong on Mon­day.”

Un­like Roland Gar­ros, which takes 15 days to ac­tu­ally com­plete the French Open, Wim­ble­don’s mas­ter sched­ule’s man­age to get the job done in 13.

The mid­dle Sun­day has tra­di­tion­ally been “quiet time” for the club’s up­scale sub­ur­ban neigh­bors in south­west Lon­don.

Fed­erer has won all five meet­ings with Dim­itrov, but they have never played on grass.

“He’s in the prime of his ca­reer you would think right now,” Fed­erer said. “I ex­pect that ev­ery time I have played him he has be­come bet­ter. I ex­pect the same on Mon­day.”

Rafael Nadal, seeded fourth, has so far car­ried the dev­as­tat­ing clay form which took him to an his­toric 10th ti­tle at Roland Gar­ros onto the grass.

The Spa­niard takes on ace threat Gilles Muller with Nadal win­ning their only grass match in 2011 at Wim­ble­don.

Nadal is keen for a con­tin­u­a­tion of the hot dry con­di­tions of the first week, but some light rain is also forecast to in­trude.

The 15-time Grand Slam win­ner was tak­ing it easy on Sun­day.

“I’ll re­lax at home with my

fam­ily, maybe watch some golf, maybe some films with my small cousins. Maybe play some foot­ball with them. That’s all,” he said.

Sec­ond seed No­vak Djokovic faces Adrian Man­nar­ino with ma­jor coach­ing help from An­dre Agassi and for­mer Croa­t­ian player Mario An­cic.

“Man­nar­ino is in good form — I am, too,” Djokovic said. “He’s lefty with a good slice serve and a very tricky game. He beat [Gael] Monfils, reached the fourth round. The matches are only go­ing to get tougher as the tour­na­ment pro­gresses.”

Top seed Andy Mur­ray re­mains a ques­tion mark, though the two-time cham­pion seems have over­come a hip in­jury and is man­ag­ing to win — but he is the only player in the top group to drop a set so far.

Mur­ray takes on French­man Benoit Paire stand­ing 2-0 in the se­ries.

“I’ve got time to work on some things, rest up a lit­tle bit, and get used to the con­di­tions that we’re play­ing in just now,” Mur­ray said. “The courts def­i­nitely have got­ten a lot quicker than at the be­gin­ning of the event. It will be good to get a cou­ple days’ prac­tice in those con­di­tions be­fore an­other match on Mon­day. But I’m pleased ob­vi­ously to be in the sec­ond week. Any­thing can hap­pen from here.”

Also in the day’s line-up: 2016 fi­nal­ist Mi­los Raonic against Ger­man 10th seed Alexan­der Zverev, Marin Cilic tak­ing on Roberto Bautista Agut and eighth seed Dominic Thiem play­ing ex­pe­ri­enced To­mas Berdych.

Among the women, it’s an­other day of stress for An­gelique Ker­ber as the Ger­man strug­gles to hold onto her top rank­ing with a match against for­mer French Open win­ner Gar­bine Mugu­ruza.

“Be­ing in the sec­ond week is al­ways nice. It’s al­ways a goal when you start a grand slam,” Ker­ber said. “But it’s an­other day, an­other match. We are all start­ing from zero. It’s a great day for the fans, but also for us play­ers.”

Ker­ber’s rank­ing ri­val Simona Halep (play­ing Vic­to­ria Azarenka) will need a vic­tory to main­tain her chal­lenge.

Fourth seed Elina Svi­tolina plays Roland Gar­ros holder Je­lena Ostapenko, for­mer No. 1 Caro­line Woz­ni­acki faces Coco Van­deweghe and Brit Jo­hanna Konta aims for per­sonal Wim­ble­don his­tory in a match with Caro­line Gar­cia.

AP/TIM IRE­LAND

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