London - The "Big Four" of men's tennis have made
it into the second week of Wimbledon unscathed and largely untroubled while the
women's draw remains wide open, but "Manic Monday" could offer major
clues as to the destination of this year's titles.
After a day of rest, all the fourth-round contenders will be
in action at the All England Club on a day that promises an unmatched
concentration of excellence.
Spain's Rafael Nadal has arguably looked the most impressive
of the famed quartet at the pinnacle of the men's rankings.
The 31-year-old won this year's French Open without dropping
a set and he has kept up that run here - meaning he has now won 28 consecutive
sets at the grand slams this year.
But Nadal, Wimbledon winner in 2008 and 2010, is up against
a tricky opponent in Luxembourg's left-handed serve and volley specialist
Gilles Muller, who beat him in the second round in 2005 - the Spaniard's first
loss at the tournament.
"He's one of the toughest opponents possible on this
surface especially, this is his best surface without a doubt. He has a great
serve, a great volley. He plays well from the baseline here. He is a tough,
tough opponent," Nadal said.
Roger Federer, seven-time Wimbledon winner, has yet to be truly
stretched but Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov should give observers some clues as to
just how sharp the Swiss's form is.
"He's in the prime of his career you would think right
now. I expect that every time I have played him he has become better. I expect
the same on Monday," Federer said.
Defending champion and home favourite Andy Murray is up
against Benoit Paire, the tall bearded Frenchman who seems to have finally come
to terms with playing on grass.
Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic also faces a
French opponent in the shape of Adrian Mannarino.
For the second successive match, 37-year-old American Venus
Williams will play an opponent who was not even born when she made her
Croatian Ana Konjuh, at 19 the youngest player left in the
draw, made many sit up and take notice with her three-set win over eighth seed
Dominika Cibulkova in the third round.
Britain's Johanna Konta has won plenty of praise for the
focused, business-like manner in which she has advanced to the last 16 and she
will face an opponent who knows all about dealing with high expectations -
France's Caroline Garcia, once tipped by Nadal to be world No 1.
Current world No 1 Angelique Kerber will have to refind her
form after a poor clay season if she is to get past confident Spaniard Garbine
Simona Halep of Romania could unseat Kerber at the top of
the rankings but she has the imposing presence of Victoria Azarenka, quickly
back in form after her maternity leave, standing between her and a place in the