Svetlana Kuznetsova and Agnieszka Radwanska will face off for the 19th time in their careers – who will prevail on Manic Monday to book their spot into the quarterfinals?
1. (9) Agnieszka Radwanska [No.10] vs (7) Svetlana Kuznetsova [No.8]
Overview: Svetlana Kuznetsova’s road to the Wimbledon fourth round has been pretty smooth so far. Kuznetsova is bidding to reach the quarterfinals in Wimbledon since exactly a decade ago, and she has been progressing smoothly so far. After reaching the quarterfinals of Eastbourne in her only warm-up tournament, Kuznetsova is looking evn better, beating Ons Jabeur, countrywoman Ekaterina Makarova, and Polona Hercog enroute to this stage.
On the contrary, Agnieszka Radwanska’s progression to the round of 16 has been nothing but smooth. Radwanska revealed that she has been struggling with two viral illnesses and a foot injury during the clay court swing, and that showed as she suffered a straight sets loss to Lauren Davis in Eastbourne. That old Radwanska seems to be gone now though – chasing down the balls and hitting splendid drop shots, the Pole scrapped past Jelena Jankovic, Christina McHale and Timea Bacsinszky, even saving match points against McHale, to book her spot into the fourth round. Stat: The last time Radwanska failed to progress into the second week of Wimbledon was in 2011!
Head to head: The rivalry between Kuznetsova and Radwanska has been long standing, with their first meeting in 2007. Kuznetsova leads the head-to-head 13-4, and has won their past three encounters in 2015 and 2016 with Radwanska having been up a match point in the last two matches. Only two of the seventeen meetings came on grass, with the pair tied at one win apiece.
Thoughts: This match-up has become pretty mental for Radwanska as every time she’s close to closing the match, she starts becoming tense and passive, allowing Kuznetsova to dictate and thus lose the match. Surface-wise, Radwanska is obviously more comfortable on grass, but Kuznetsova is adapting well by playing more flat on this surface. The Russian has even mentioned in an interview that she is feeling more comfortable on grass than on clay this season! As all Kuznetsova-Radwanska matches usually do, I expect this to be a close one, with Kuznetsova peaking at the important moments to win the match.
2. (27) Ana Konjuh [No.28] vs (10) Venus Williams [No.11]
Overview: Venus Williams is into the second week of Wimbledon for the third straight year, and in total she has reached this stage 15 times here. Coming into the third Slam of the year with some uncertainty having been involved in a car crash, Williams has settled well after a tough two-setter against Elise Mertens. The American played much steadier tennis in wins over Wang Qiang and Naomi Osaka, looking back to her vintage form and is in prime position to win her sixth Venus Rosewater Dish.
Ana Konjuh is into the second week of a Grand Slam for the third time in her still blossoming career. Having been so close to beat Agnieszka Radwanska last year here before stepping on a tennis ball and slipping, Konjuh has continued that good form from there, claiming victories over former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, Irina-Camelia Begu, and lastly against Dominika Cibulkova in a titanic three-set epic where she hit 54 winners to 47 unforced errors!
Thoughts: Venus is going to meet another teenager, this time in Konjuh, and the latter has a similar game to Osaka so Williams won’t need to change many tactics in this match. Both play aggressively and like I wrote in the Williams-Osaka match, the player who dictates play while committing less errors will be the winner. Williams is obviously the more experienced player and I think she’ll step it up against Konjuh once again.