Manic Monday at Wimbledon was indeed a little on the crazy side, with Maria Sharapova going down and Roger Federer suffering at least a temporary tweak of the back. But, as is customary, rain abbreviated the Manic Monday action which means we now get … Tough Tuesday? Tantamount Tuesday?
Whatever we want to call it, Tuesday should be a fantastic day of tennis. Weather permitting, of course. Always weather permitting.
Since we've already previewed the remaining men's fourth-round matches, let's take a look at the ladies' semifinals.
No. 4 Petra Kvitova vs. No. 6 Serena Williams (Centre Court, Match No. 2)
When the ladies' draw was revealed, the very first thing I noticed was that Serena Williams, the four-time Wimbledon champion, would potentially have to go through defending champion Petra Kvitova to get to the semifinals. Granted, Williams survived a couple of scares -- she has won her last two matches in the third set, 9-7 and 7-5, respectively -- and Kvitova needed a rain delay to gather herself and down Francesca Schiavone on Monday. But they're both here, and who the hell knows what we're about to see in the marquee quarterfinal matchup?
If the game comes down to guile and clutch play, one has to figure the odds are in Williams' favor. She's been around the block, winning 13 slam titles and reaching four other finals. With the match on the line against Yaroslava Shvedova in the fourth round, she unleashed three straight gutsy, perfect winners to lock down the match. But her feet can't quite move as quickly as she wants them to, and her service return has been spotty.
On the other hand, Kvitova has the perfect grass-court game, as last year's fortnight proved. She has power, aggressiveness and, perhaps most importantly with this match, young legs. But her brain has gotten in the way of her game. The title of "Wimbledon champion" has led to more pressure than she has been ready for, but aside from the first set against Schiavone, she has fared well once back in London.
Prediction: Either Kvitova in two or Williams in three. We'll say Kvitova.
No. 8 Angelique Kerber vs. No. 15 Sabine Lisicki (Centre Court, Match No. 3)
Four years ago, these two players met on grass in Holland in a Wimbledon tune-up. Kerber was 20 and ranked 125th in the world. She took the 18-year-old, 78th-ranked Sabine Lisicki in three sets, 6-7, 6-1, 6-2. Fortunes have changed for each woman, to say the least. Lisicki is currently 15th in the world and is coming off of an outright thumping of Maria Sharapova on Monday. Kerber, meanwhile, continues to rise and now finds herself eighth in the world. She has won all four matches between the two players and has taken eight of 10 sets overall. She generates so much power from her legs, and it is becoming pretty easy to see 2012 as Kerber's year to make a surge into the top five. Lisicki has frustrated tennis fans with her ability to alternate between incredible and horrid. She was incredible against Sharapova, so...
Prediction: Kerber in two.
No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 17 Maria Kirilenko (Court No. 1, Match No. 2)
I'm done writing off Agnieszka Radwanska. This entire tournament, I have assumed her lack of offensive upside would doom her. But through four matches and eight sets, she has dropped just 16 games. She is leveraging opponents into mistake after mistake, and she has been nearly flawless. In her 6-2, 6-3 win over Camila Giorgi in the fourth round, she committed just six errors. Her quarterfinal opponent, Maria Kirilenko, committed just 12 in her three-set fourth-round win, however. This match could see some long points. Kirilenko took two of the first three matches between these two, but Radwanska has won the last four and eight of the last nine sets. That gives her the nod in my book.
Prediction: Radwanska in two.
No. 2 Victoria Azarenka vs. Tamira Paszek (Court No. 1, Match No. 3)
These two relative youngsters (Azarenka is 22, Paszek 21) are facing off in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the second straight year. Azarenka won 6-3, 6-1, and has since experienced breakthrough success in the Australian Open and a few months at No. 1 in the world. If she plays like she has thus far, she is a heavy, heavy favorite. You never know when a top WTA player is going to suffer a setback, but Azarenka has just looked too good, especially in the last couple of rounds, for me to ignore.
Prediction: Azarenka in two.