The Wimbledon Championships are off to an entertaining start as the 2013 Grand Slam tennis schedule continues to unfold. Many top seeds have had cruising victories—while two-time champion Rafael Nadal was upset on an epic scale by 135th-ranked Steve Darcis.
However, while many of the game's big names in both the men's and women's draws will likely continue cruising without much resistance in the early going, others will be scrapping to stay in the tournament.
There are several tantalizing Round 2 matchups that have the potential to foster high-quality tennis even at this early juncture, and thus make it well worth watching.
The schedule isn't quite set yet for the third day, but Wimbledon's official website will have the complete listings for each match once Tuesday's play ends.
With that, let's look at the current second-round TV schedule and also at the second-round matches that have the upside in terms of thrilling and attention-grabbing action.
Note: Statistics and player information are courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com.
Round 2 TV Schedule (h/t SportsMediaWatch.com)
|Wednesday, June 26|
|Second Round||7 a.m. - 5 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Thursday, June 27|
|Second Round||7 a.m. - 3 p.m.||ESPN2|
Julien Benneteau (31) vs. Fernando Verdasco
The Frenchman Benneteau may hold the No. 31 seed, but he will be hard-pressed to advance to the next stage of Wimbledon with a man like Verdasco standing in his way.
Verdasco presents problems due to his left-handed grip, power and past success, having ascended to as high as No. 7 in the world rankings.
On the grass sur]juace at the All England Club, the amount of topspin that Verdasco can generate with his devastating forehand, and the odd bounces that can occur, make him a difficult foe to negotiate.
What's also working against Benneteau is that he's lost all three previous encounters with Verdasco (h/t matchstat.com), though none of them have been on grass.
This has all the makings of a five-setter due to the occasionally erratic Verdasco, who tends to hit patches where he has a lot of unforced errors. Benneteau, meanwhile, relies more on fitness and wearing down his opponent in that regard.
After all, back in 2009 in Cincinnati, Benneteau pushed the elite Andy Murray to a 57-point rally, which is a testament to his mobility considering Murray's stamina:
However, I like Verdasco's talent to get past Benneteau in four sets on Wednesday, as his strong serve and devastating groundstrokes will thwart Benneteau's aggressive net approaches.
Roberta Vinci (11) vs. Jana Cepelova
The veteran Vinci has formed quite the doubles tandem with Italian compatriot Sara Errani, but the No. 11 seed may be in trouble in terms of singles at Wimbledon this year.
Cepelova is merely 20 years old, yet she made the third round at Wimbledon in 2012 and is now seeking to improve upon that. She was ranked just 178th when she qualified for the tournament (h/t AP), yet was still able to advance that far before Victoria Azarenka defeated her in straight sets.
If there is a possible upset special brewing on Day 3 on the women's side, this might be it.
Round 4 is as far as Vinci has ever advanced, and she also did so last year. Unfortunately for Vinci, this could be the first of several opponents Cepelova beats in a coming-out party of sorts.
Then again, experience isn't exactly on Cepelova's side despite her solid run last time around. This should go three sets, and if Vinci gets by, it won't be by much.
Nicolas Mahut vs. Tommy Robredo
One of the participants of the longest tennis match ever played is Mahut, so he is used to grinding it out against perceptibly superior foes. Mahut came out on the losing end of that 2011 match at Wimbledon against John Isner, though.
Robredo is a former top five player in the world, but much like his compatriot Verdasco, is beginning to decline in his late 20s.
Despite the success Robredo enjoyed in the mid-2000s, he never reached past the quarterfinals in any Grand Slam tournament. Wimbledon, though, is the only place where he hasn't gotten past Round 3. That does not bode well against a gritty opponent like Mahut.
What's also important to factor in is that Mahut finally won his first ATP title at the age of 31 at last week's Topshelf Open—beating Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
Grass also suits Mahut's game well. Robredo is better acclimated to clay, where he's been a quarterfinals participant at the French Open five times—including this year.
It wouldn't be surprising to see Robredo sneak by and match his best performance at the All England Club, but considering Mahut's history and recent success, he won't go down without a serious fight.