Novak Djokovic didn’t make it, Roger Federer didn’t play, but the men’s final four at the French Open still looks pretty good. Actually, really good. And, at least on paper, it should make for quite a good day of tennis. But will it live up to expectations?
To be honest, the event thus far in the men’s has been rather flat. Other than the first set of Novak Djokovic-Dominic Thiem, the quarters were flat.
The round of 16 wasn’t much better. Milos Raonic-Pablo Carreno Busta finished strong. And the third round with the rain didn’t have much drama either.
So let’s hope that changes tomorrow. And I think it will. On to my semifinal picks.
Andy Murray v Stan Wawrinka
It’s a rematch from last year won by Murray. And I picked Stan in that match and I’m going to do it again. Stan’s played better of late while Murray just hasn’t found that form he had a year ago.
So for me it’s simple. Murray is not as good as he was at this time last year. Stan is maybe slightly better. Thus, advantage Stan. And on clay that’s how it should be,
I also don’t like Murray’s results this year which have been mediocre for his standard, and he’s had several puzzling losses.
And I don’t like his game much either. He’s not as offensive and his serve just isn’t in top gear. Of course that could change, but like we saw with Djokovic, often the pattern holds.
Wawrinka’s been doing his thing, playing good at the Slams and a Masters here or there like Indian Wells, then he also has a few bad losses. But this week he’s back to form and he arrives without dropping a set after pounding an in-form Marin Cilic Wednesday in his best match of the tournament.
The series is 10-7 for Murray but Stan leads 3-1 on the clay. And I think Stan will continue to crack those groundstrokes and if he can get his serve working – he’ll need some free points off it with Murray’s exceptional defense – I think he gets through in a rollercoaster match.
The Pick: Wawrinka in five
Rafael Nadal v Dominic Thiem
Yeah, Thiem comes in off his best career Grand Slam win. But came against a very indifferent Djokovic in the last two sets. So I just can’t get a good read on that win.
However, Thiem has beaten Rafa before. And I know Rafa was a little tired in Rome, but that counts, though Rafa beat him three times prior.
The key for Thiem will be his court positioning. If he can play up in the court he’ll have a chance. If he’s too far back he’s dead meat. And like he did against Novak, he’ll have to make his presence known early. Take it to Rafa right from the start and remind him of Rome. Plant that seed of doubt.
But, and it’s a big BUT. This is best of five. This is a Slam and this is the French Open where Nadal’s only lost twice before. And I just don’t think Thiem has enough right now to sustain the barrage that’s about to come.
Thiem probably beats him here someday, but not Friday.
The Pick: Nadal in four
Obviously, Murray could beat Stan, that wouldn’t stun me. And really, I could even see Thiem winning. Rafa’s had a really good draw so far and hasn’t been tested. Thiem is going to do that, but to win Dominic will have to redline from the ground and serve well. And keep that level up for 2.5 to 3 hours against a fresh, hungry Nadal on his favorite court.
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