Nick Bollettieri: Beware the big hitter – but Murray will be fine if he keeps his cool

The Wimbledon Files

Andy Murray is looking fit, confident, relaxed, motivated – and isn't apparently suffering from the pressures of being the sole Brit hope at his nation's biggest tennis party.

His appointment with royalty was a breeze the other day, and he endeared himself to Her Majesty – who by all accounts has other sports above tennis in her favourites list – by taking down Finland's Jarkko Nieminen clinically and quickly. To my eyes, Murray looks in better form in these early stages than he did at the same point last year, when he went on to the semi-finals.

So who is Gilles Simon and what is there about his game that could trouble the Braveheart of Britain? In my view, he's a guy who hasn't lived up to his billing. Great things have been expected of him and he's produced good things at best. He was as high as No 6 in the world – that was early last year – but is now outside the top 30.

He's been hampered by injury this season – a problem with his right knee effectively kept him out of contention for months and he missed the entire clay court season. I'm not certain whether that's completely behind him. He can be very emotional, and that's a weakness when things are going against him. On the flip side, he'll be the underdog, has nothing to lose, and can come out firing.

Simon's a big hitter with powerful strokes on both sides and a decent all-court game. His biggest weapon is his backhand, which he hammers on the rise, early and hard. Simon will be fresh – his second-round opponent, Illya Marchenko, withdrew from the tournament before their match. That could also be a disadvantage, however, because he hasn't played himself into the first week, coming through just one match to reach the middle Saturday.

As for Simon's form on grass – he played one warm-up at Eastbourne, losing 6-1, 6-3 to Michaël Llodra in the quarters. In Slams his record is unspectacular, with the 2009 Australian Open quarter-finals his best showing to date. He's reached the fourth round here once (last year), and has not gone further than the third round at either Roland Garros or the US Open.

In head-to-heads Murray is 3-1 up from two meetings on hard court and two on clay, with Simon's sole win coming in their first meeting in Rome in 2007. I've written plenty on Murray's strengths: movement, good and improving serve, soft hands, creative brain, and the best returns in the world. He's also being more offensive and not waiting as long before trying to pick out winners. Murray can neutralise the Frenchman. He can take him down in straight sets and will beat him in a maximum of four.

Today's big match: Gilles Simon v Andy Murray

How they match up

French Nationality British

25 Age 23

Neuchâtel Residence Surrey

2002 Turned pro 2005

Right-handed Plays Right-handed

5ft 11in Height 6ft 3in

No 32 World ranking No 4

6 Career titles 14

$3.8m Career prize money $11.2m

W8 L5 Wimbledon record W16 L4

3R (three) Wimbledon best SF (2009)

Head-to-head: Murray Leads 3-1

7-1 Odds 1-7

Bollettieri's prediction: Murray in four, max.

Coaching Report: John Isner v Thiemo De Bakker

The future is bright for Isner, once he recovers from his marathon efforts

I wrote with some confidence yesterday that John Isner would be able to recover from his world-record epic against Nicolas Mahut to beat Thiemo De Bakker. I thought the adrenaline of the occasion would juice him up. And boy was I wrong!

So hands up straight away to acknowledge it: you've got to tell it like you see it, and when you get it wrong, that's the way the cookie crumbles. I'm not infallible. Not quite.

In the end, it wasn't just the sheer fatigue that did for my 6ft 9in compatriot, although that played a very big part in his downfall. He didn't have the legs and got beat in under 75 minutes. And as he told us afterwards, he also had a painful blistering as well as stiffness. He's also been forced to withdraw from the doubles.

But believe me, he'll come back strong. He's a good athlete and a balanced person. He's going to take a break, watch some soccer, go fishing. And when he returns, he'll do so knowing that no opponent will ever doubt his staying power in future.

Jeepers! We've got one heck of an interesting fourth round ahead on Monday in the ladies singles, if a couple of matches today go the way I assume they will.

Those matches involve Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova respectively, and if they get past Slovak and Czech opponents today (and I expect them both to win), then they'll face each other in the fourth round.

Not only that, wins yesterday for Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin mean that the Belgian duo will also face each other on Monday with a place in the quarters at stake.

What's going on?! Huge and genuinely competitive fixtures in the women's singles as early as the fourth round. What a treat this tournament is turning out to be – both open and intriguing.

Both Clijsters and Henin impressed me, the former against Maria Kirilenko, the latter against Nadia Petrova. It's good for the women's game that the Belgians are back and that Sharapova is on the mend, physically and competitively, because as much as we all admire and respect the sheer brilliance of the Williams sisters, it makes it much more interesting when they're tested by fellow Slam winners

My featured match of the day yesterday was Lleyton Hewitt against Gaël Monfils. I predicted the Aussie would win and he did, but the manner of his victory was more even more assured than anticipated.

He's on a hot streak and it isn't just that he looks really well physically, but he's taking control of matches and dominating them.

On Super Monday – when the whole field in the men's and women's singles play – he'll face Novak Djokovic after the Serb won yesterday, and on the evidence so far, Hewitt's heading for the quarters.

World Cup of Tennis

I've been trying to predict soccer matches in South Africa based on the strengths of nations in tennis, and by assessing national sporting traits through tennis players I've known and worked with. Then, I project that on to the soccer and see what happens. The USA-Ghana is a terrific match-up today but a mismatch in tennis terms, and in any case, my colleagues at the All England Club assure me there's only one soccer match in town this weekend. So without further ado...

Germany v England

Boris Becker at his peak versus Fred Perry in his prime, on grass, at Wimbledon.

What a prospect! We sure could shift some tickets for this showdown. That's my imaginary match-up today. I worked with Boris and he wasn't just meticulous and driven but also utterly in love with the grass of Wimbledon and a ferocious competitor in SW19, winning in 1985, 1986 and 1989, and contesting four other finals. "Boom Boom" was a character, a showman, a crowd pleaser and is an honorary Brit.

Fred "Ladies Man" Perry was also a character, probably less well loved by the Wimbledon establishment as a tough Northerner with a "So what?" attitude. He had his own Wimbledon hat-trick between 1934 and 1936.

So it's steely flair versus steely flair. Fireworks. Spectacular rallies. Tie-breaks. An exhilarated crowd.

Who would win between them? My heart would say "Boom Boom" and my head would say Fred was one tough cookie. England. No, Germany. No, England. On penalties!

Win a week at my academy

Want a week's tennis holiday at my academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition. The prize can be for an adult wanting to shape up your game, or for a child who wants to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, among other players who went from being kids under my tuition to No 1 in the world.

All you have to do is email to tell me who will win today's big match. I want a specific score line, and as a tie-breaker, a one-sentence summary of the manner in which your pick will win. All winners go into a hat, with one overall winner picked from there. Email: n.bollettieri@independent.co.uk

Yesterday's winner was Gary Goodger.

If the prize is for a child, parent(s) or guardian(s) must accompany at your own expense. The winner arranges the travel.

News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine