Damien Kayat previews the round three Wimbledon men's matches featuring Andrey Rublev vs Fabio Fogini and Seb Korda vs Dan Evans.
2021 ATP Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
Wimbledon Tennis Championships
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Selected 3rd Round Matches- 2nd June
Andrey Rublev 2/11 | Fabio Fognini 37/10
It’s kind of amazing to think that Rublev is yet to progress past the quarterfinal stage of a Grand Slam. He has absolutely dominated the ATP 500 scene for some time. But he has consistently underwhelmed at the highest level (he was eliminated in the first round of this year’s French Open). But things do generally seem to be going in the right direction for the aggressive Russian. He reached the quarterfinals in the Aussie Open earlier this year and made huge strides on the Masters 1000 stage. He reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami before reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo. He also enjoyed the perfect prep for this event by reaching the final in Halle. Rublev is yet to advance past the 3rd round of this event. Many felt that Llyod Harris would give him huge problems in their 2nd round match but Rublev annihilated the South African in three intimidating sets.
Fabio Fognini is a former top 10 player who also enjoys playing ultra-aggressive tennis. Despite being a clay-court specialist, Fabio Fognini has actually shown some pretty good consistency in this event, reaching the 3rd round in the last three editions. Fognini has only dropped one set in his first two matches (although those two matches were against avowed clay-courters). There have been some decent moments for the Italian this year. He reached the 4th round of the Aussie Open for the very first time. He also reached the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo where he was defending his title. The 34-year-old will clearly need to play his best tennis to compete against the dynamic Rublev. There is nothing mysterious about this one. These two baseliners will be looking to demolish each other with their prodigious forehands.
Rublev to win in four sets at 49/20
I was fairly amazed when I discovered their head-to-head stats. Fognini leads the Russian 5-2 (although the Russian pulverized Fognini at this year’s ATP Cup). Rublev will be feeling some pressure going into this one. He has poor Wimbledon credentials and the aforementioned dodgy head-to-head record with Fognini. But that victory against Llyod Harris may have moved the goalposts for the Russian. Rublev to win in four sets at 49/20.
Seb Korda 94/100 | Dan Evans 83/100
One could have forgiven 20-year-old Seb Korda for feeling somewhat nervous entering his first Wimbledon Championships. But the American has really embraced his first SW19 appearance, memorably disposing of in-form Alex de Minaur in the opening round. He then easily saw off Frenchman Antoine Hoang in the 2nd. Korda is currently enjoying a breakthrough season on the tour (he won his first ATP title in Parma earlier this year). He also looked impressive on the Halle grass-courts, beating both Nishikori and Bautista Agut before falling to eventual champion Ugo Humbert. Korda is riding the crest of some serious familial momentum this week. His middle sister Nelly just won her first Major at last week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. He is playing with a carefree abandon that is quite rare to see in this age of somewhat mechanical professionalism.
Dan Evans has long had to fight the stigma of being the ‘bad boy’ of British tennis. But there have been some recent signs that he may be about to realize at least some of that potential. He won his first ATP title in Australia earlier this season. But his performance in the Monte Carlo Masters was arguably the highlight of his career. He reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final, accounting for World Number One Novak Djokovic along the way. He reached the quarterfinals at the Queen’s Championship, indicating that his game was ready for a grass-court assault. He is yet to drop a set this week and he looks to be playing with a great degree of confidence. Considering both Konta’s unfortunate withdrawal and Murray’s gruelling 2nd round victory, Evans probably represents the best British hope for a deep run. He doesn’t rely on power, rather probing his opponents for weaknesses. His use of slice was critical in beating Djokovic. This could prove to be his greatest weapon against the tall American.
Verdict: Seb Korda 94/100
This will be the first meeting between these players. Evans will clearly be the crowd favourite going into this one. The more experienced Brit will look to use a similar template to the one that helped him defeat Djokovic in Monte Carlo. He will aim to diffuse Korda’s power and use his mastery of slice to bring the tall American forward. But ultimately, I think there’s a sense of destiny about Korda. I’m not saying he’s going to win the title. But I’m pretty sure that he will see off the pedestrian Evans.