First Petra Kvitova, now Karolina Pliskova – if you’re trying to pick a favourite on the women’s side, good luck.
Picking up right where we left off at Roland Garros, the draw is once again wide open for the women. No one is safe, yet everyone is capable, and it’s making for a delightfully chaotic tournament. Hard to believe it’s only the third round!
Unsurprisingly the men’s is a lot more straightforward, although with the GOAT, Ernests Gulbis back on the prowl, it might not stay that way for long.
Read on for a look at what’s in store on Day 5 at the championships.
Caroline Garcia (FRA)  vs Madison Brengle (USA) – 1st on Court 18
It’s not often you’d highlight a matchup between the world nos. 22 and 94 at a tournament like this, but there’s more going for it than you might think. Not only do both come in with some serious form – Brengle having just dispatched pre-tournament favourite Petra Kvitova, Garcia with a Roland Garros quarterfinal and Mallorca semi under her belt – but also they’ve had a particularly hard-fought rivalry, having played eight of a possible nine sets with Garcia leading 2-1. Meeting for the first time on grass, this will be a classic case of Garcia’s offense versus Brengle’s defense, with the winner earning the right to crush the local hopes in a fourth-round matchup against Johanna Konta. Expect a rollercoaster of a match, with one very exhausted winner.
Rafael Nadal (ESP)  vs Karen Khachanov (RUS)  – 2nd on Centre Court
There’s a specific formula for beating Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon: 1. Be tall 2. Hit the ball flat and hard 3. Repeat 2 as necessary. Lukas Rosol, Dustin Brown, Nick Kyrgios all fit that criteria and guess what? Karen Khachanov does too.
No, this doesn’t mean Nadal is about to be bundled out with any certainty, but it does mean he’s in danger. The simple truth is his forehand tends to bounce into the hitting-zone of such giants on grass, and that gives them the opportunity to go for broke consistently. That said, it requires perfect play of a particularly low-percentage style (it’s my opinion Lukas Rosol would’ve beaten everybody that day in 2012, for instance) but it can’t be discounted having seen it before. Can Khachanov become the latest to do the miraculous? Who knows, but it’s certainly worth watching to find out.
Benoit Paire (FRA) vs Jerzy Janowicz (POL) – 3rd on Court 18
Two players who never bothered to move past the “occasional glimpse of potential” stage in their careers, now meet in a contest that is sure to feature plenty of explosive shot-making and implosive decision-making. Both are extremely talented hitters of the ball – Paire’s versatility making him as comfortable on the back foot as the front, Janowicz a more classic ball crusher who can ram winners down your throat – and have taken two wins apiece in their rivalry. Both men will like their chances, with Paire having won their last encounter 6-1, 7-6 in Stuttgart three weeks ago, while Janowicz comes in having just beaten Lucas Pouille, and really there’s no way of telling who will take this one. It could go five, it could go three for either man, but it’s sure to provide some very entertaining tennis.