Baseline Buzz: Sharapova sizzling
LONDON -- The Czech Republic is an almond-shaped country of 10 million souls surrounded by Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland. It comprises 49,000 square miles, which is roughly the size of Mississippi or Louisiana.
So how did the Czech Republic become the epicenter of tennis? The men's Davis Cup, which advanced to the semifinals against France, is looking for a rare three-peat. In a single day, Friday, the Czech women placed four in the round of 16. How will they fare on Manic Monday?
Carl Bialik: Radwanska has to like her chances of advancing to a third straight semi here. She dominated her first three opponents and dropped just nine games. But Makarova is dangerous, with 12 career wins against Top 10 opponents. Radwanska in three.
Greg Garber: Indeed, Makarova has some big scores against big players -- remember the fourth round of the 2012 Australian Open against Serena Williams? -- so I'll go with the upset. Makarova in three.
Melissa Isaacson: The two have played four times previously, all on hard courts, with Makarova taking the last match at the 2013 US Open. But Radwanska has won the other three. She's a 2012 finalist and has lost just nine games here this year. Radwanska in straights.
Matt Wilansky: Makarova has a sweet lefty serve and isn't afraid to rush the net. But Radwanska's counter-punching game has some juice on grass. Radwanska wins an easy two sets.
Bialik: Sharapova had a very good Saturday. She looked formidable in winning the last 11 games against Alison Riske on Saturday. Then Sharapova's biggest rival, whom she hasn't beaten in 10 years and 15 matches, exited the tournament when Alize Cornet took out Serena Williams. Kerber is the highest-ranked player in Sharapova's quarter. Don't expect Sharapova to miss her opportunity to move ahead to a Serena-less semi. She'll win in three.
Garber: Once again, the Lords of Tennis have thrown Sharapova serious favor. Yes, No. 1 seed Serena Williams -- who Sharapova hasn't beaten in a decade -- is safely out of the tournament. Why wouldn't she find a way to beat Kerber in three?
Isaacson: Sharapova has to be thrilled to see the draw once again open up identically to the French, with Alize Cornet's upset of Serena Williams thwarting a potential quarterfinal between the two. But the French Open champion looked extremely confident before that. Sharapova in two.
Wilansky: It's like Roland Garros all over again. No Serena means the draw opens up for Sharapova. Kerber is a tough nut on grass, though. Sharapova in three.
No. 6 Petra Kvitova versus Shuai Peng
Bialik: Peng often plays her best tennis on grass, and this is her third round of 16 in four Wimbledons. It's her bad luck to draw another player who thrives on grass, especially when that player won here in 2011. Since Kvitova rarely makes it easy, she'll win in three.
Garber: If the hamstring remains sound, you have to like the former champion's chances here. That lefty serve loves the grass. Kvitova in straight sets.
Isaacson: These two played only once before on grass, in the London Games, with Kvitova coming out ahead in a three-setter. Kvitova had a good tune-up in a well-played three-setter against Venus Williams in the last round and should have little trouble with Peng. Kvitova in straights.
Wilansky: This is the only tournament in which we can still have faith in Kvitova. She hasn't played up to expectations since winning the title here in 2011, but nonetheless, Kvitova hasn't lost before the quarterfinals since 2009. She will make life interesting for herself but will win in three.
Bialik: Ivanovic is the better player overall. She has a lot of work to do, but she'll end Lisicki's streak of three straight Wimbledons in which she beats the French Open champ.
Garber: I picked Lisicki to win in three sets, and I still think it's going to happen that way. In the end, the German is more comfortable on this lovely surface.
Isaacson: Lisicki and her massive serve historically do well on grass -- even if she doesn't fare well on other surfaces. Lisicki in a tight three sets.
Wilansky: Ivanovic was out of sorts for a while. Lisicki is a player who needs rhythm. The suspension Saturday hurts the German. Look for Ivanovic to come back and win in three.
No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard versus Alize Cornet
Bialik: Can Cornet keep up the form she showed in upsetting No. 1 Serena Williams on Saturday? Williams doubts it: "If I'm not playing, you know, a great, great match, these girls when they play me, they play as if they're on the ATP Tour, and then they play other girls completely different." If Cornet does suffer a letdown, Bouchard won't let up. She'll win in three.
Garber: She's already been to the semifinals in each of the first two majors this year. She might not do it again (Sharapova would be lurking in the quarters), but give her this one in straights, as Cornet is emotionally spent after knocking off Williams.
Isaacson: Cornet, whose previous best result at a Grand Slam was a round of 16 berth in the 2009 Australian Open, is flying high after her upset of Serena Williams. But she faces a buzzsaw in Bouchard, who at 20 has reached the semis in both Slams this year. Bouchard in three sets.
Wilansky: Emotional win for Cornet, but her time will come to an end. Bouchard is too focused and her all-court game too steady. Bouchard in two.
No. 16 Caroline Wozniacki versus Barbora Zahlavova Strycova
Bialik: For the first time in a while, Wozniacki is looking like her old No. 1 self. She has lost only 11 games in three matches. At 28, Strycova is 5-43 against the top 20. Expect that record to become 5-44 -- and to hear Wozniacki dodge more Rory McIlroy questions in press conferences. Wozniacki in straights.
Garber: Didn't Rory win his first tournament after the breakup? Maybe Woz, too, will benefit from their separation. She's been playing freely -- give her a straight-sets win.
Isaacson: This is only the third time since 2011 that Wozniacki has reached the round of 16 at a Slam. She has spent much of her time here still fending off questions about her broken engagement to Rory McIroy and saying she's not "a victim" and is in a good place mentally. That's bad news for Strycova. Wozniacki in straights.
Wilansky: Taking out Li was a career highlight for Strycova, but (not to take anything away from her) that result had everything to with the world No. 2's bad attitude. As for Wozniacki, she has a fresh state of mind and is grooving on the grass. Woz in two.
No. 23 Lucie Safarova versus Tereza Smitkova
Bialik: It has been exciting to see Smitkova, age 19, win her first three Grand Slam matches here. But none came against seeds, and her last match ended at 10-8 in the third. The ultratalented, inconsistent Safarova can't ask for a better opportunity to get to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in 7.5 years. Safarova in straights.
Garber: Somebody has to win this match, and I'm thinking experience will be the telling factor with a quarterfinals berth on the line. Safarova in two.
Isaacson: Smitkova has yet to drop a set so far. But she has failed to get past the first round in four of her past six Wimbledons. Worry not, she'll be through to the quarters this time. Smitkova in straights.
Wilansky: A life-changing Wimbledon for Smitkova is an understatement. Including qualifying, she's won six matches in a row here, including wins over the 45th-ranked Bojana Jovanovski and American Coco Vandeweghe. Why stop now? Smitkova in three.
Bialik: Shvedova should end Key's fine run on grass in mere minutes, though if the 19-year-old American manages to take the tiebreaker, I'd favor her in the deciding set.
Garber: The way Keys was moving (or not) through the last few games was difficult to watch. Both her thighs were taped -- how is she going to come into a Monday completion? Probably not well. With all due respect, I'll take Shvedova in two.
Isaacson: At 19, Keys probably has good recuperative powers, and with a day to take care of what looked like a re-aggravation of her pulled muscle, I'm going with wishful thinking and patriotic homerism. Keys in three.
Wilansky: Keys went down with an injury, and Shvedova loves this surface. She'll prevail in the tiebreaker.