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Murray wary of Fognini

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Originally published on 06/07/17 00:00

The world No.1 dealt with his first two opponents with the minimum of fuss but his latest rival is finally on the road to fulfilling his enormous potential.

Fognini, a volatile character whose temperament has been more of a hindrance than a help, has reached the third round in style. He has thumped an impressive 103 winners in six sets and he appears to be enjoying his time on the lush lawns in SW19.

The inimitable Italian is at his imaginative best with the red dirt beneath his shoes however he has the skillset to adapt to any surface. His grass-court credentials are not particularly strong but he can never be discounted.

“I expect a really serious test when I play Fabio on Friday because he's good off both forehand and backhand, and can hit a lot of winners,” said Murray. “This will be our first meeting on grass, so we'll see how that changes things.”

The Scot was soundly beaten when he met the Italian in Rome earlier this year and their encounter at the Rio Olympics was tight. Fognini may be the underdog, but he knows he is capable of beating the world No.1.

Four matches to watch

Karen Khachanov (RUS) [30] v Rafael Nadal (ESP) [4]

Khachanov will get his first chance to take on the Spanish juggernaut in the second match of the day on Centre Court. The 21-year-old has made significant progress this year without much fanfare but he is on the brink of cracking the top 30.

The Russian has had to fight and scrap to earn his showdown with Nadal. He has already spent five hours and 43 minutes on court and fatigue could be an issue if the match becomes lengthy.

Khachanov will believe he has the firepower necessary to trouble Nadal, who has frequently struggled with big-hitters in the early stages of Wimbledon throughout his career.

Nadal is in excellent form but he is taking nothing for granted. “I have a tough opponent in front of me, like Khachanov,” said the former winner. "It's going to be a tough match for me. I hope to be ready to keep playing well.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [12] v Sam Querrey (USA) [24]

This is likely to be a tight contest between two big-hitters and tiebreaks should be expected.

The pair met in an unforgettable clash at Wimbledon in 2014, and it was the Frenchman who edged a marathon final set 14-12. Break-point chances are going to be rare so it will simply be a case of who plays the big points best.

Tsonga will be encouraged by his record against the American – who famously defeated Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year – as he has won four of the five previous clashes.

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v Heather Watson (GBR)

Watson has lost all eight sets she has played against Azarenka and she has never even forced a tiebreak.

There is little to suggest the Brit is capable of defeating the two-time Australian Open champion however she is currently playing the best tennis of her career. The 25-year-old from Guernsey will take confidence from the fright she gave Serena Williams at Wimbledon two years ago, and she will hope the Centre Court crowd can assist her cause.

Azarenka, in just her second tournament back after maternity leave, has started the tournament impressively and she will expect to reach the last sixteen.

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) [13] v Camila Giorgi (ITA)

For those who enjoy lengthy baseline exchanges, this may be a match to avoid.

Ostapenko, the French Open champion, has been pushed to three sets in her opening two matches. The 21-year-old will become more dangerous as the tournament progresses however she will be aware that her latest opponent will attempt to dictate the flow of the baseline exchanges.

Giorgi, who has hit a total of 70 winners in her victories over Alize Cornet and Madison Keys, has had strong results throughout the grass-court season and she won her only meeting with the Latvian in Katowice last year.

 

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