Wimbledon 2012: matches to watch, day five

Today's highlights include Heather Watson v Agnieszka Radwanska, Novak Djokovic v Radek Stepanek and Kim Clijsters v Vera Zvonareva

Novak Djokovic (SRB)(1) v Radek Stepanek (CZE)(28) – 1st on Centre Court


Djokovic is looking supreme on grass (but then so was Nadal, and look what happened to him…). Nevertheless, his 38-6 win-loss record this season speaks volumes and the number one seed leads the pair’s past meetings 6-1. Veteran competitor Stepanek may have a wealth of experience behind him and a precise serve and volley game perfectly suited to grass, but the 33-year-old Czech hasn’t broken the top 20 in the past two years so few will expect him to overcome the mighty Serb.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)(3) v Heather Watson (GBR) – 2nd on Centre Court

Young Heather Watson put in a brilliant performance to defeat Jamie Lee Hampton 6-1 6-4 in the 2nd round, becoming the first British woman in a decade to reach the third round of Wimbledon. Many will hope to see her beaming face adorn the front pages tomorrow morning but unfortunately the world number 103’s opponent this afternoon is of a high calibre. Polish Radwanska has a good record at SW19, twice reaching the quarter-finals in 2007 and 2011, and has climbed to a career high of number three in the world rankings. Besides her first round defeat at Wimbledon warm-up Eastbourne, the 3rd seed has been playing great tennis, dropping just nine games in her previous two matches. A win for Watson is a tall order but following last night’s late-night thriller, Centre Court is ripe for major upsets…

Fernando Verdasco (ESP)(17) v Xavier Malisse (BEL) – 2nd on No.3 Court

At number 75 in the world, Malisse is ranked nearly 60 places below his Spanish rival but the Belgian veteran’s 15 years of experience on tour helped him dump out 13th seed Giles Simon in straight sets in the previous round. Verdasco is yet to progress beyond the last 16 at Wimbledon with his aggressive baseline game proving most effective on fast, hard courts. Malisse, something of a grass court specialist, stands a good chance of dispatching another seeded player when the pair do battle this afternoon. 

Roger Federer (SUI)(3) v Julien Benneteau (FRA)(29) – 3rd on Centre Court

Six-time champion Roger Federer has been majestic in the first two rounds, thrashing first Ramos and then Fognini. Coming into the tournament after a strong season and four titles, you can feel Federer’s hunger for the Wimbledon crown he has failed to reclaim since 2009. Frenchman Benneteau lies at number 32 in the world rankings, failing to win a tournament this year and never progressing beyond the fourth round at SW19. It would be a brave man to bet against Federer’s run of form. Prediction: Benneteau gets steamrollered.

Vera Zvonareva (RUS)(12) v Kim Clijsters (BEL) – 3rd on No.1 Court


Unseeded former world number one Kim Clijsters faces battle axe Vera Zvonareva in her final Wimbledon before she takes retirement later this year. But despite her top-billing, the Russian third seed is still chasing her maiden Grand Slam whilst her experienced opponent is a four-time winner. Clijsters leads their head-to-head 6-3 and will be desperate to continue her run to the second week, but will her hunger give her the edge over her opponent’s adept movement and powerful groundstrokes?