With all of the Top 10 players on court Thursday and only eight spots in the quarterfinals available, someone had to lose today in Paris. And the biggest stunner was Roger Federer as the Swiss was bounced by American John Isner in 7-6, 3-6, 7-6.
“When I saw the draw and I saw I had a possibility of playing him in the second round,” Federer said. “It’s the kind of draw I don’t really like to see.
“I think with him it’s more can he serve big when he really needs it the most? Does indoors maybe help him there a little bit? Potentially. He’s got the size, got the power, got the angles. I thought he did very well today when he needed it. The breakers, he served great. Those are the ones he needed. That was the difference.”
The slow court actually played into Isner’s hands as the big man was more able to hit and serve through the court than Federer. That and Roger played two rather poor tiebreakers to give Isner one of his biggest match wins in quite a while.
“This is a very big tournament,” Isner said. “He’s an incredible player. My favorite player and the greatest of all time, in my opinion. It was a huge win for me. I’m very proud I was able to get it done.”
Federer also dismissed a right arm injury he first developed in Basel last week. Fortunately for Roger, he’ll have 10 days or so off before the London Finals, and Paris has never been a tournament he’s down that well at – reaching the final just once in 2011 when he won the title.
“I was just feeling my arm, but it didn’t affect me in the third set and it’s not serious,” Federer said.
He also brushed off any Basel hangover. “Maybe the eye was a thousandth of a second slower,” said Federer. “I mean, what do you want me to tell you? I was definitely not tired from last night. I was ready to go today.”
And for Roger when you play Isner this is often the result. You play tiebreak roulette and when you do you are going to lost a few. I’m sure he’ll trade losing these two in Paris overover losing two to Isner at the US Open two months ago.
Rafael Nadal also struggled with another serve-bot big man in Kevin Anderson, but he advanced saving a matchpoint in the second set tiebreaker to prevail 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2.
Once Anderson, who rarely pulls out the big matches, lost the second set there wasn’t much hope for the South African, though he did hold break chances against Nadal in the third.
Credit to Nadal who’s starting to find the range after tough start to the year. This was a match I think he would have lost in March.
While Federer and Nadal went the distance, Novak Djokovic ran his win streak to 19 beating Gilles Simon 6-3, 7-5. The slow hardcourts set up perfectly for Novak who curiously was five times in the match.
“It happens. In sport there are days when you just lose your rhythm. You’re trying a bit too much and you lose a bit of confidence,” Djokovic said. “It was frustrating, I can assure you, losing four service games in (the second) set … It hasn’t happened to me for a long time.”
Also on Thursday, Andy Murray destroyed David Goffin 6-1, 6-1 (Murray’s lost just 4 games in two matches). David Ferrer overcame a break down in the third to end Grigor Dimitrov’s 2015 season. Kei Nishikori’s injury issues continued as he retired with a bad neck to Richard Gasquet, and Tomas Berdych beat up on JW Tsonga in straights.
So the quarters for tomorrow look like: Djokovic v Berdych, Wawrinka v Nadal, Ferrer v Isner and Gasquet v Murray.
Obviously I have to like Djokovic and I’ll take Murray who seems to be playing well. I’ll also with Ferrer over Isner who may have a letdown after that big win over Roger. Though Isner’s only win over Ferrer in six tries came at this event four years ago.
“It’s been a while since I have played him,” Isner said. “That’s sometimes how it works out. You play a lot of the top guys, three, four times a year. Some you never play. This will be a tough challenge for me. I know going in he’s never going to give up and he’s always going to fight. He’s an incredible player with an unbelievable work ethic, and he’s earned everything he’s ever gotten. It will be a fun match.”
And in the big match, I think I’ll go with Nadal. Rafa leads Stan 13-2 but obviously Stan’s much improved of late (however Rafa crushed him in Shanghai last month!). I just think Rafa’s actually got some confidence and he even played well last Sunday in his loss to Federer. So maybe a three set win for Rafa here?
And I’ll say again, the courts seem to playing very slow!
Tennis Channel has full coverage starting a 8am ET with Murray-Gasquet.
FRIDAY PARIS SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 2:00 p.m.
 R. Gasquet (FRA) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
 D. Ferrer (ESP) vs  J. Isner (USA)
Not Before 7:30 pm
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  T. Berdych (CZE)
Not Before 8:30 pm
 S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
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