Here are five matches to watch during Saturday's action at Wimbledon 2012.
Barring inclement weather (and at Wimbledon, the weather is never too far from inclement), the Round of 16 for both the gentlemen and the ladies will be set by Saturday's end. Roger Federer is in by the skin of his teeth, as are Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Agnieszka Radwanska and other pretty big names. In, too, are lesser known players such as Denis Istomin, Viktor Troicki, and Camila Giorgi. Who will join them on Saturday? Here are five of the day's more interesting matches.
1. Gentlemen's Third Round: No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Lukas Rosol
This one's simple: What does Rosol have left in the tank? Not only did he take out Rafael Nadal in five sets on Thursday, but he has also played two five-set doubles matches and a four-set singles match this week. That's 19 sets in five days. Now he takes on big-hitting, 27th-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber. The two have never met, but through two matches, Kohlschreiber has proven to be just about as big a hitter as Rosol was against Nadal; in eight sets, Kohlschreiber has nailed 111 winners and 53 aces. His first serve has been untouchable, and after needing five sets to take out countryman Tommy Haas in the first round, he cruised to a 6-1, 7-6, 6-1 victory over Malek Jaziri in the second round. Rosol will need to avoid any sort of letdown whatsoever after Thursday's incredible show; otherwise, if Rosol-Nadal was Douglas-Tyson, Rosol-Kohlschreiber will become Douglas-Holyfield.
2. Gentlemen's Third Round: No. 7 David Ferrer vs. No. 30 Andy Roddick
While we're using boxing analogies ... styles make fights! David Ferrer and Andy Roddick have incredibly contrasting styles, and they have provided a series of interesting matches throughout their career. Ferrer leads the all-time series, six matches to four (sets: Ferrer 17, Roddick 13), and five of the 10 matches have gone the distance. Ferrer won two of three matches versus Roddick last year, and the two have never met on grass. I mentioned a week ago that Roddick had to be pleased to get matched up in Ferrer's pod instead of one of the top four seeds, but this still isn't a wonderful matchup for the 29-year old from Omaha. Roddick has often been content to chip away from the baseline and let his unranked opponents beat themselves to some degree in his first two rounds, but Ferrer's game is predicated on the simple fact that he doesn't ever beat himself. To advance, Roddick will have to show a level of offense has not yet unveiled this week. It certainly isn't possible, and there's no question that, throughout their respective careers, Roddick has been quite a bit more successful on grass, but Ferrer has been a better player than Roddick recently. Of that, there is no doubt.
3. Ladies' Third Round: No. 6 Serena Williams vs. No. 25 Jie Zheng
After an oddly nervous first-round win, Serena Williams bounced back with an easy second-round conquest of Melinda Czink, 6-1, 6-4. She now faces a veteran from China, Jie Zheng, who also looked a lot better in her second-round match than in her first. These two have faced off five times, and Williams has won all five matches. Total sets: Williams 10, Zheng two. But Zheng took the first set the last time the two played (Toronto 2011), and Serena has not yet been full-on Serena. Despite her small stature (5'5", 126 pounds) Zheng hits a heavy ball, and Williams will need to show quality movement to advance toward what could be a remarkable quarterfinal matchup with No. 4 Petra Kvitova.
Hey, speaking of Petra Kvitova ...
4. Ladies' Third Round: No. 4 Petra Kvitova vs. Varvara Lepchenko
Varvara Lepchenko's thrilling run to the French Open fourth round earned her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, but it came to a merciless end at the hands of Kvitova, the defending Wimbledon champion, who dispatched of Lepchenko, 6-2, 6-1. The other time these two have played, Kvitova won, 6-1, 6-2. The two play basically the same game, only Kvitova plays it much, much better. But Kvitova has also been prone to bouts of tightness in recent months. If Lepchenko can build some early momentum, Kvitova could clam up. (Or, since we're all about the boxing analogies here, I should just say that if Lepchenko can punch her in the mouth early, the fight could change.) Lepchenko's emergence has been a fun story in recent months; it will become even more fun if she can spring an unlikely upset on Saturday.
5. Gentlemen's Third Round: No. 16 Marin Cilic vs. Sam Querrey
Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey have faced off twice; both matches came on grass and both went the distance. Cilic did win both (6-4 in the fifth set at Wimbledon 2009 and 6-3 in the third set at Queen's Club 2012), but this is another case where styles make an interesting fight. Cilic has made it to the third round with a magnificent service return -- he has broken opponents' serves 12 times in seven sets -- while the offense-minded Querrey has bombed home 40 aces and 88 winners in eight sets. Four of Querrey's eight sets have gone to tiebreakers (primarily because his serve can't be broken, and he can't break serves either), and if the 25-year old from Las Vegas can win the big points on Saturday (and there should be many of them), he could face Andy Murray on Centre Court in the fourth round on Tuesday.