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Wimbledon Day 5 – preview

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American Venus Williams faces a bit challenge Friday as she meets Petra Kvitova. (Joe Toth/BPI/REX)

WIMBLEDON – The first two rounds are in the books - well, almost. A few matches including the one involving former champion Lleyton Hewitt and the women's match between promising teenagers Belinda Bencic and American Victoria Duval – were held over after it rained late Thursday.

The biggest question mark, for the first time in the tournament, will be the weather. The forecast improved slightly for Friday, the chance of precipitation at 50 per cent. For Saturday, it's 90 per cent.

As play got under way at 11:30 a.m., the first few drops of rain fell. But then the sun came out. It's going to be that kind of day.

When they do play, the seeds begin to meet. And on the women's side, the most-anticipated match-up is between 2011 champion Petra Kvitova and five-time champion Venus Williams.

Both are not what they were when they held the Venus Rosewater dish, Venus for the last time in 2008. Kvitova has rarely found the combination of confidence and health needed to impose her high-risk power game for a full two weeks. Williams, managing an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's, never knows from one day to the next what her energy level will be.

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Despite that heavy wrap, Kvitova has breezed through to Wimbledon'd third round (Ella Ling/BPI/REX)

Kvitova has a heavy wrap around her right quad; Williams, who just turned 34, has a tape down the side of her left leg.

Despite the wrapping, Kvitova has looked dominant so far, dropping just three games in her first round and just two against Mona Barthel of Germany in the second round. Williams struggled in her first round and in the first set of her second match against tiny Kurumi Nara of Japan. But she won the second set 6-1.

Matches to watch

Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs. [Q] Victoria Duval (USA) (second round)

Cancelled Thursday, this one is a "future of women's tennis" special. Bencic, a Swiss who has had Martina Hingis's mother Melanie Molitor as an instrumental part of her development, is just 17 but already is at a career-high No. 71 in the rankings. She won the junior girls' title here last year over American Taylor Townsend, with whom she had some fairly epic battles in the junior ranks. She also won the French Open juniors last year; 19 years ago, Hingis did the same thing.

Duval, 18, is also at a career-high singles ranking, at No. 114. She had to qualify for the main draw last week at Roehampton. The two two never met in the juniors, although Duval really has played little junior tennis in the last three years; her only tournament after the 2011 U.S. Open was the same event the following year, where she got to the semifinals.

[16] Caroline Wozniacki vs. [Q] Ana Konjuh

Konjuh is another kid who battled through the qualifying. A year ago, at 15, she won the Australian and U.S. Open juniors, and was a semifinalist at the French Open and Wimbledon. Close to a career high ranking at No. 189, she's really just getting started. Wozniacki, who is fighting through a broken heart after a rather public broken engagement with golfer Rory McIlroy (and has "big sister" Serena Williams by her side to lend some support), is very much under the radar but has been playing well.

Konjuh is the youngest player to reach the third round at Wimbledon in 10 years, since Tatiana Golovin of France (already long retired), in 2004.

[11] Grigor Dimitrov vs. [21] Alexandr Dolgopolov

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Grigor Dimitrov, among the non top-four players, is definitely a Wimbledon contender. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)


Both are considered part of the next young wave. Dolgopolov, 25, looked to be ahead in the race a year or two ago but has fallen back since while Dimitrov, just 23 but rather more precocious, has come into his own of late under the tutelage of coach Roger Rasheed. We figure any young man who has the guts to hit on the imperious, older Maria Sharapova, risk getting shot down in a major way, but end up having her as a girlfriend probably isn't scared of anything he might face on a tennis court.

[16] Fabio Fognini vs. [20] Kevin Anderson

The fiery Italian player has survived two rounds of angst and turmoil – notably his first-rounder against American Alex Kuznetsov where he overcame an 0-2 set deficit and was fined a Wimbledon-record $27,500 for "damaging the grass court with his racket (isn't that the BEST?) and an additional $7,500 for his verbal abuse of tournament referee Wayne McEwen and for making an obscene gesture at his opponent.

What was his abuse of McEwen? Oh, no big deal; he merely threatened to smash his racket at McEwen's head. Fognini, a brilliant talent and a favorite with the ladies (and probably some gents), has evolved from entertaining to highly unfunny at the speed of light. If he doesn't behave himself against the stolid, unemotional Anderson, he could well find himself sitting on a suspension for the U.S. Open.

Americans in action

Women's singles

[6] Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs [30] Venus Williams (USA)

Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs [Q] Victoria Duval (USA)

Shuai Peng (CHN) vs Lauren Davis (USA)

Men's doubles

[1] Bob Bryan / Mike Bryan (USA) vs Matthew Ebden / Samuel Groth (AUS)

[16] Pablo Cuevas (URU) /David Marrero (ESP) vs Austin Krajicek /Donald Young (USA)


Women's doubles

[7] Raquel Kops-Jones / Abigail Spears (USA) vs [WC] Naomi Broady (GBR) / Eleni Daniilidou (GRE)

[11] Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) / Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) vs Madison Keys / Alison Riske (USA)

[15] Liezel Huber / Lisa Raymond (USA) vs Shuko Aoyama (JPN) /Renata Voracova (CZE)

Mixed doubles

[13] Eric Butorac (USA) /Raven Klaasen (RSA) vs Jaroslav Levinsky / Jiri Vesely (CZE)

Scott Lipsky (USA) /Jie Zheng (CHN) vs [WC] Colin Fleming / Jocelyn Rae (GBR)

Jaroslav Levinsky (CZE) /Janette Husarova (SVK) vs Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) /Megan Moulton-Levy (USA)

James Ward / Anna Smith (GBR) vs Nicholas Monroe (USA) /Shuai Zhang (CHN)

Treat Huey (PHI) / Lisa Raymond (USA) vs Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) /Liezel Huber (USA)

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