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Three to See, Wimbledon Day 3: Murray vs. Isner; Raducanu vs. Garcia; Opelka vs. Van Rijthoven
Big-name Brits, and their fans, will aim to make a statement in the second round of The Championships.
Published Jun 28, 2022
WATCH: Emma Raducanu speaks with media after her 2022 Wimbledon first round win.
Andy Murray vs. John Isner
Isner is a quintessential “player nobody wants to see in their section of the draw.” Unless you’re Murray, that is. The two-time Wimbledon champion might even relish the opportunity. He’s 8-0 against Isner, in a head-to-head series that dates back to 2010. A few of the matches have been tight: There was a third-set tiebreaker in Cincy in 2014, and a 6-4 in the third finish in Bercy in 2016. But Isner, who has wins over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, has never cracked the Murray code.
Why? The simplest explanation is probably the best. Murray’s best shot is his return, which he uses to neutralize Isner’s best shot, his serve. Once they’re in a rally, the advantage swings heavily in the Scot’s direction.
If Isner is looking for something positive, he might point to the fact that they’ve never played on grass. Unfortunately for him, that also means he’s never faced Murray in front of his fans at Wimbledon. Winner: Murray
Emma Raducanu vs. Caroline Garcia
One is French and 28 years old, the other is British and 19 years old. But there are similarities to the Garcia and Raducanu games. They’re both on the tall and lean side, they both play attacking baseline tennis, they’re both shot-makers, and they can both be erratic. Garcia was a teen prodigy who never made good on Andy Murray’s prediction that she would become No. 1 in the world. Raducanu has already taken her talents farther than Garcia by winning the US Open, but she’s still a prodigy who is going through the work-in-progress stages of her career.
All of which makes this a potentially entertaining, athletic, and highly unpredictable contest. They’ve played once before, and, true to form for both of them, Raducanu won in topsy-turvy fashion, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, in Indian Wells.
Raducanu and Garcia both have games that are well-suited to grass. The Brit made the fourth round here last year, and Garcia just won a tournament on the surface in Bad Homburg. But before Monday, she hadn’t won a match at Wimbledon since 2017. I’ll take Raducanu, and her fans, in a roller coaster. Winner: Raducanu
Reilly Opelka vs. Tim van Rijthoven
Van Rijthoven is the sport’s resident mystery man at the moment. Once upon a time, he was a Top 20 world junior, and a quarterfinalist in the Wimbledon boys’ event in 2014—he beat Andrey Rublev to get there. After dropping off the tennis map for half a decade, he reappeared three weeks ago at the Libema Open in his native Netherlands and beat the top three seeds—Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev—to win the title. And he showed no signs of being a one-week wonder in his straight-set win over Federico Delbonis on Monday.
Facing Opelka is a somewhat different story, of course. We know now that Van Rijthoven can beat just about anybody on grass; but how will he do with the American’s servebot style?
That in turn begs another question: How will Opelka’s game hold up? Before his first-round win here, the long European slog seemed to be wearing him down, as it has worn down many of his countrymen before. He had lost in the first round at Roland Garros, and followed that up with two more first-round losses, at Queen’s and Eastbourne. Winner: Van Rijthoven