Roger Federer and Andy Murray will be on high alert to avoid the same fate as Rafael Nadal when they take to the court for their second round matches at Wimbledon on Wednesday. In theory, both should have little problem in dispensing with their opponents, but then the same was said before Nadal stunningly crashed out to 135-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis in one of the All England Club’s biggest upsets.
More than anyone, Federer will doubtless have had, at least internally, a small sense of relief at Nadal’s demise. Drawn in the same quarter with his great rival, the prospect of potentially having to go through Nadal, Murray and Novak Djokovic in successive matches would have presented the 31-year-old with a mammoth task to claim his eighth Wimbledon crown. But now the Swiss great has to go about ensuring he takes advantage of the Spaniard’s exit, starting with a meeting with Sergiy Stakhovsky in the last match of the day on center court.
The Ukrainian is currently ranked at 116, but has been as high as 31 in 2010, the same year in which he achieved his best result at SW19 when he reached the third round. Still there is little to suggest that the result will be any different from the only previous time the pair have met when Federer won in straight sets on the hard courts of Dubai in 2011.
Murray, though, will have bad memories of his second-round opponent Yen-Hsun Lu. The man from Taiwan caused Murray an ignominious loss in the first round of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing when the Scot’s petulance was in full effect. But Murray has largely eradicated that negativity from his game and is now looking to add to his U.S. Open crown by becoming the first Britain to win Wimbledon since 1936. The second seed also got the better of Lu the only other time the pair have met, in straight sets earlier this year at Indian Wells.
Also on the men’s side on Wednesday, semifinalist for the last two years Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on the talented but frustrating Ernests Gulbis. The pair have faced off three times with Tsonga getting the win on each occasion, although they haven’t met since 2009. The Frenchman is a considerable favorite to get the victory again against the 39-ranked Latvian but the showmanship and shot-making abilities of both players mean it should be an entertaining duel.
The women’s action on Wednesday is highlighted by second seed Victoria Azarenka taking on Italian veteran Flavia Penetta. The 31-year-old currently finds herself down at 166 in the rankings as she continues to make her way back from a wrist injury and the former world No. 10 has only won more than one match at one tournament this year. A repeat is unlikely of the last time the pair met when Pennetta won in three sets.
Elsewhere, the ear plugs may be needed, although likely not for too long, on Court Two when Maria Sharapova takes on perhaps the loudest player on the tour, Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito. American Sloane Stephens will also be in action against former world No. 9 Andrea Petkovic.
Where to watch: Coverage from day three of Wimbledon begins at 7 a.m. ET on ESPN2, with a live stream of all the televised courts available on ESPN3.