Wimbledon 2018: Updated Schedule, Draw Predictions Before Week 2 Action

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2018

Top-seeded Roger Federer has not lost a set as Wimbledon action moves into its second week.
Top-seeded Roger Federer has not lost a set as Wimbledon action moves into its second week.Ben Curtis/Associated Press

After sitting out the French Open, Roger Federer appears to be in top form as Wimbledon reaches the second week of the fortnight.

The defending champion will be joined by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro as several of the sport's biggest names have survived and advanced.

By contrast, the women's draw has been anything but predictable. No. 1 seed Simona Halep shockingly dropped a three-set match to unseeded Su-Wei Hsieh by a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 score. Halep held a 5-2 lead in the final set but Hsieh was relentless in the last five games, returning nearly every shot and frustrating the No. 1 player in the world.

In addition to Halep, Caroline Wozniacki (2), Garbine Muguruza (3), Sloane Stephens (4), Elina Svitolina (5), Caroline Garcia (6), Petra Kvitova (8), Venus Williams (9) and Madison Keys (10) were all beaten in the first week of the tournament, leaving seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova as the highest-seeded player who remains alive in the competition.

While unseeded players are thriving and relatively unknown players are advancing, one big name appears to be hitting top form.

BBC Sport @BBCSport

She’s done it! Serena Williams moves into the fourth round after defeating Kristina Mladenovic. LIVE👉https://t.co/R2HmxNLgrk 📺 @BBCOne #Wimbledon #bbctennis https://t.co/bLnaqYC6eA

Serena Williams, who is the No. 25 seed in the tournament, defeated Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets in Friday's third-round match, and may be ready for a championship run now that players like Halep, Wozniacki, Muguruza and Stephens have been knocked out.

Williams is gunning for her 24th Grand Slam title and her eighth Wimbledon championship. She unleashed her powerful serve against Mladenovic and recorded 13 aces. Her comfort level on grass is obvious, and she has won 18 straight grass-court matches dating back to 2015.

The 36-year-old American, who has improved her performance in each of her first three matches, is thrilled to make it through to the fourth round. She is not taking anything for granted even though the top seeds have been knocked out of the tournament at an alarming rate.

"I think a lot of the top players are losing, but they're losing to girls that are playing outstanding," Williams said, per Sonia Oxley of BBC.com. "I think, if anything, it shows me every moment that I can't underestimate any of these ladies. They are just going out there swinging and playing for broke."

Williams will be put to the test by Evgeniya Rodina in the fourth round. Her Russian challenger had never been past the second round in any Grand Slam tournament prior to this year's Wimbledon, and she defeated Keys in three sets to get to the fourth round.

If Williams can get past Rodina, a matchup with Pliskova in the semifinals appears quite likely. The winner of that match will have the inside track on winning the championship.

Federer has been rolling through the first three rounds, having won straight-set victories in all of his matches. He is currently the odds-on 5-6 favorite to defend his title, per OddsChecker.

Federer will face 22nd-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France in the fourth round, and if he can win that match, a quarterfinal matchup with Frenchman Gael Monfils seems likely. Monfils came through with an impressive four-set victory over American Sam Querrey in the third round.

Federer is in the favorable half of the draw, since Djokovic (12), Nadal (2), Zverev (4) and del Potro (5) are on the opposite side. The Swiss superstar won't have to meet any of those players unless he gets to the championship round.

Federer is gunning for his ninth Wimbledon singles title.

ATP World Tour @ATPWorldTour

Juan Martin del Potro books his place in the second week at #Wimbledon with another three-set victory, defeating Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3. Could the 🇦🇷 lift his second Grand Slam 🏆 next week? https://t.co/5LYzcge7GR


Look for Williams to continue to pick up steam and advance to the semifinals where she will meet Pliskova. If Williams does not get nervous on the big stageand that's not likelyshe will win that match and advance to the championship round.

Her likely opponent will be 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany, and while she is a solid player who has two Grand Slam titles on her resume (2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open), Williams will triumph on the grass court.

Federer appears to have have smooth sailing at this point. The athletic Monfils is capable of pushing the great Swiss champion in the quarterfinals, while Milos Raonic could be his semifinal opponent. But Raonic is too erratic to provide a major challenge.

Del Potro has a huge serve and he is a strong player who can forge his way into the championship round. Del Potro defeated Federer in last year's U.S. Open quarterfinals and again in the Indian Wells title round this year.

While Federer has an 18-7 career record against del Potro in lifetime head-to-head matches, the Argentinian will not be intimidated. It may take five sets, but we see del Potro pulling off the monumental upset over Federer when the two men reach the title match.