Rafa Nadal survived the second round but it took a monumental effort to hold off a remarkable five set challenge from 27-year old American and Wisconsin native Tim Smyczek. Nadal looked vulnerable and will certainly be fatigued for his Friday match against Israel’s battle-tested veteran Dudi Sela, a four-set upset conqueror of 28th seeded German bruiser Lukas Rosol. The heavily favored Rosol was worn down by the irrepressible Dudi, who keeps converting loser to winners. Sela can handle Nadal if he believes he can. As he demonstrated against Smyczek, Nadal wears on opponents being as much a talented player as he is a master at controlling tempo and emotion. Ever, the retriever, Sela will have to get on his thoroughbred but if he sticks with it, he will not face the Nadal of two years ago. Rafa is likely to be discouraged, weary and upset after Dudi walks off the court. Take the long odds in this one.
We have not talked much about the 7th seeded Czech, Berdych, but we should have paid closer attention. Tomas is playing as well as anyone and looks destined to meet Federer in the semis. Troicki is a solid contributor to the Serbian team and a tour veteran but in a standalone match against powerful and cagey Berdych, he deserves longer odds. Berdych was a semifinalist here last year and is hungry to add to his $20 million resume. With 489 career wins, Tomas is way past his choking days. This should be a painless three set win for the 7 seed.
We had both these victors on Day 3 but Julia looked impressive after dropping a tight second set against Czech Klara Koukalova (6-3,4-6,6-2). Like many German women, her power game will be the difference. With 9 aces and 41 outright winners in Round Two, look for Julia to push Lucie around the court in Round Three. Hradecka dropped the first set against Slovakia’s Polona Hercog (4-6,6-3,6-2), but showed the grit to come back With 5 aces, this is a Mutt and Jeff matchup that favors power. Julia has her eye on 10 seed Ekaterina Makarova in the next pairing and that should be a barn burner.
Good luck knocking out the imposing Eugenie Bouchard before the quarters. Not going to happen! The fetching Canadian crushed23 year old Kiki Bertens (6-0,6-3) and continues to make the draw look easy. That might be her only challenge; facing a more serious competitor. 21- year old Frenchwoman Garcia took out the tested Swiss contender Stefanie Voegele in straight sets but Ms. Bouchard is playing at a level with the game’s biggest stars and appears very comfortable in the spotlight. Having reached at least the 4th round in each of her Grand Slams in 2014, Bouchard will cruise in straight sets on Friday.