The rains finally hit the French Open Sunday. But luckily we got three of the four men’s fourth round matches completed. Unfortunately, the main event didn’t get in.
Kei Nishikori opened by rolling through Teymuraz Gabishvili in straight sets. No surprise there as Kei’s just been way too tough against the guys he should beat, and he goes into his quarter super fresh, without dropping a set.
Dropping a set is just what JW Tsonga did. But I thought he’d drop two more. He didn’t though as Tsonga simply overpowered Tomas Berdych in a bit of a surprise, to me, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3. Tsonga missed so much time this year so it’s great to see him back in full flight. And right now he’s running hot and when gets into gear anything is possible (remember Canada last summer?).
“I’m feeling good,” said Tsonga. “I’m playing good tennis. I’m solid. When I play my best tennis, I know I’m able to beat many guys. So even if the last couple of months was tough, I always believed in myself. I continue to work hard and try to be really consistent in my head.”
Tsonga’s countryman Gilles Simon had nothing left for Stan Wawrinka who punished the Frenchman 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
In the finale, Roger Federer breezed to an opening set win over Gael Monfils. But Monfils shook off the early weariness, got charged up for the second and right now they stand a set apiece at 6-3, 4-6 when the match was stopped in the fading light. So in tomorrow’s best-of-3, I still like Fed. Though I would have liked him more had they finished tonight in Paris.
As for the other matches Monday:
Rafael Nadal v Jack Sock
I like the spunk of this young American Jack Sock. But I don’t like him enough to upset Rafa. That said, it doesn’t mean it cannot happen. It’s been that kind of season for Nadal.
Rafa, though, has looked more and more like the Rafa we know, pulverizing the opposition through three rounds, and that includes a good win over Nicolas Almagro.
Sock has done the same, putting the hammer down on Borna Coric in the last round to reach his first or what should be many Grand Slam fourth rounds. Sock brings a lot of Rafa-like spin and firepower to his game. And he’s got some attitude. And he’ll need all his abilities to pull the shocker and do what’s only been done once before, beat Rafa in a best-of-5 on clay.
“He’s a great player,” Nadal said Saturday about the American. “He’s playing fantastic, winning very tough matches against very difficult opponents like (Grigor) Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta, and today against (Borna) Coric. He has an amazing forehand, very good serve, and then he’s a player that can play very aggressive and is dangerous. I know I have to be very solid. I know I have to play aggressive and try to not let him hit the forehand in positions, because I am going to be in big trouble.”
If Nadal finds his depth and hits his spots he should advance. Sock should will make it interesting.
The Pick: Nadal in 4
Novak Djokovic v Richard Gasquet
Djokovic leads this series 10-1 winning the last eight. And I see no reason that streak ends today. Gasquet is a talented player, a great ball striker but just doesn’t seem to have the goods to win big matches like these.
Djokovic has more business to do here (Rafa?) and won’t let down to a guy like Gasquet who he’s dominated.
The Pick: Djokovic in 3
Andy Murray v Jeremy Chardy
The red-hot Andy Murray will finally get a test Monday against Jeremy Chardy. Murray has won 13 straight on his most uncomfortable surface and he’s been playing so good. Is he for real? Can he win the French? I’m not buying it, but I’ll buy he’ll beat Chardy.
The 28-year-old Frenchman has steamrolled through John Isner and then David Goffin. He’s got a lot of firepower, has some wins – beat Roger Federer in Rome last year – and he’ll have the crowd.
“I played all of my matches on Court No. 1, and the atmosphere was amazing,” Chardy said Saturday. “They pushed me and they helped me during the whole match, so for sure it will help me against Andy.
“I feel really well. Today I played one of my best matches. So if I continue to play like this, I really think I have a chance against Andy.”
But Murray has the game and he has the head-to-head having taken six of their seven meetings.
The Pick: Murray in 4
Marin Cilic v David Ferrer
Can anyone stop Marin Cilic? The guy has quietly won 10 straight Grand SLam matches, the last six in straight sets! But that run and the great draw he’s hade ends today against David Ferrer who’s beaten the big Croat in three of four.
“The mental approach to 2015 was to keep rising and to get closer to the top,” Cilic said. “I have a bit [of a] handicap as [I] started the season basically in April, but, still, that goal stays, and I feel that if I’m going to be doing the things right and if I’m going to be playing well, it won’t be too far.”
The US Open champ has played well on the clay, his worst surface, and it’s nice to see him healthy and in form. He’ll be pleased getting this far, and losing to Ferrer on clay is nothing to be ashamed of.
Cilic’s confidence keeps it close.
The Pick: Ferrer in 5
With NBC off the air, ESPN returns with coverage at 5am ET with Tennis Channel finishing the day from 10am. And with Federer added to the schedule, you have by my math the Big 4 all playing Monday!
MONDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Philippe-Chatrier Court 11:00 AM Start
Lucie Safarova (CZE) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
12:30 Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. Roger Federer (SUI) To Finish 3-6 6-4 3
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Sloane Stephens (USA)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Suzanne-Lenglen Court 11:00 AM Start
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Jeremy Chardy (FRA)
Jack Sock (USA) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI)
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