While Wimbledon has been shaken by tremendous upsets in the early days of the tournament, there are still some terrific matches to watch as the round of 16 approaches.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer saw their way to early exits in the opening rounds, but top-seeded players like Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer and Andy Murray are still firmly entrenched in a pursuit of a Grand Slam victory.
And, of course, the stakes are immensely high for the both Djokovic and Murray.
For the world No. 1, winning at Wimbledon is almost an expectation, especially with Nadal having already exited the tournament in shocking fashion. Until someone proves otherwise, Djokovic is the man to beat.
But Murray has plenty of motivation for completing the improbable. As has been widely noted throughout the tournament, a British player hasn’t won the men’s singles championship since 1936.
Despite missing the French Open with a back injury, Murray has yet to lose a set at Wimbledon, quelling many of those concerns as he eyes a potential finals showdown with Djokovic. Early round upsets aside, there’s plenty to watch for in the fourth round of the event.
Let’s take a look at three particularly intriguing round of 16 matchups and break down the importance of each as we inch closer to crowning a Wimbledon champion.
3. Andy Murray vs. Mikhail Youzhny
After cruising through his first two matches in straight sets, Murray appears poised to make a serious run at the title this year. With Nadal and Federer both out of the tournament, his path seems a little clearer.
No. 20 seed Mikhail Youzhny can’t be taken lightly, though. Apart from the very real possibility of an upset in keeping with the theme of Wimbledon this year, Murray also has to dodge a player who has notched two straight-set victories through three rounds.
Still, Murray was absolutely dominant in his three-set dismantling of Tommy Robredo in the third round, and it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the world No. 2 doesn’t continue his masterful performance with a win in the round of 16. At least for now, the British still have a very real possibility of ending the curse with a Murray victory this year.
2. Bernard Tomic vs. Tomas Berdych
David Ferrer may be a more intriguing player to watch for the remainder of the tournament, but the prospect of a Djokovic-Berdych quarterfinals matchup is reason enough to put this match on the map.
Apart from the obvious talent in this round of 16 contest, there’s also the possibility that Berdych skates past Tomic for a shot at repeating his Rome Masters success against No. 1 Djokovic after besting the top seed 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in that event. It’s never good to look past an opponent, but Berdych certainly has reason to feel confident if he escapes Tomic.
Still, Tomic isn’t going to make that easy. The 20-year-old stunned No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet in four sets on Friday to notch a round of 16 appearance, and he’ll be riding a lot of momentum into this showdown.
1. Novak Djokovic vs. Tommy Haas
Tommy Haas has been around a long time—or at least long enough to know that an upset over the top-seeded Djokovic would bring him exponentially closer to a finals appearance with only one seeded player remaining in the bottom half of the draw.
At 35, Haas has battled numerous injuries to get to this point in his career, and while it may be winding down, he has proved through the first three rounds that he still has enough in the tank to give Djokovic a run for his money.
Unfortunately, he was in this situation at Roland Garros and didn’t enjoy the result he would have hoped for.
In the quarterfinals at the French Open, Djokovic rallied to a three-set victory over the 35-year-old in dominant fashion. This rematch has the potential for some fireworks, but Djokovic certainly has the upper hand.