Andy Murray (GBR)(2) v Benjamin Becker (GER) – 3rd on Centre Court
What is there to say about Andy Murray that hasn’t already been said? The second-seeded Brit carries the hopes of a nation on his shoulders heading into today’s opening match on Centre Court but his opponent shouldn’t cause him much bother. 32-year-old German Benjamin Becker is ranked number 92 in the world and was recently swept aside by the British number one in straight sets in the Queen’s quarter-finals. Murray has looked in fine form in the build up to this year’s tournament, going on to take the title at west London’s Wimbledon warm-up following an extended period of grass court preparation. The Scot’s priority is to limit today’s encounter to three sets, ensuring he conserves energy for the tough draw ahead.
Roger Federer (SUI)(3) v Victor Hanescu (ROM) – 1st on Centre Court
As reigning champion, Federer opens today’s play on Centre Court against Romanian competitor Victor Hanescu. Both players are in their thirties, but while the Suiss world number three remains at the top of his game, Hanescu’s ranking has slipped from a 2009 peak of 26 to his current position of 48. The Fed is still a serious contender for the title, despite landing in the same half of the draw as Nadal and Murray, so expect him to come through this encounter fairly untroubled. Hanescu may have just made the third round of the French Open, but in their five career clashes, he has only ever taken a set off his Federer, and he isn’t expected to do much damage this afternoon.
Maria Sharapova (RUS)(3) v Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) – 2nd on Centre Court
As current ladies’ singles champion, Sharapova comes into this year’s competition in decent form, having made it to the final of last month’s French Open. But her American challenger, Serena Williams, has maintained her dominance, winning at Roland Garros months after annihilating Sharapova in the Olympic final in London. In recent days the pair have become embroiled in a public spat over Serena’s comments in Rolling Stone magazine but today the Russian will need to focus on her game to overcome her French competitor. Mladenovic may be ranked 37th but her recent appearance in the French Open mixed doubles final impressed, as did her powerful game at Birmingham the following week. Sharapova comes into today’s clash the overwhelming favourite but she’ll need to bring her best grass court game to ward off any chance of an early scare.
Jerzy Janowicz (POL)(24) v Kyle Edmund (GBR) – 2nd on No. 3 Court
There’s a buzz building around young Briton Kyle Edmund. The 18-year-old wildcard entry has a tough draw against his seeded Polish opponent this afternoon but his recent mixed doubles win at Roland Garros has garnered him growing attention from fans and pundits. While he maintains his focus is still on the boys’ singles competition, it will be interesting to see how he fares against Janowicz after taking no.17 Giles Simon to two tense tie-breakers at Eastbourne. Expect Janowicz to come through this draw, but with any luck Edmund will bring his A-game and test the 24th seed’s nerve.
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)(11) v Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) – 3rd on No. 1 Court
Seeded players are expected to breeze through their Wimbledon openers but today’s match between Stanislas Wawrinka and Lleyton Hewitt has all the ingredients for a gritty battle. Wawrinka comes into this year’s championships ranked 10th in the world after an impressive 2013 that has included a title in Oeiras, runner-up in Madrid and Topshelf and a quarter-final showing at Roland Garros. But his steely Australian rival should never be under-estimated, having dispatched with three seeded players at Queen’s before losing to eventual finalist Marin Cilic. The 2002 champion will not go down without a fight so expect a tense tussle when the pair take to No.1 Court this afternoon.
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