Our super Wednesday quarterfinal is set, and I’m not talking about Andy Murray and David Ferrer. Of course I’m talking about Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who will meet for the 44th time on Rafa’s birthday at the French Open.
Nadal leads Djokovic 23-0 and 6-0 at the French Open. It’s the fourth straight year they will meet.
But we are still 48 hours or so away from that one…
As for today, things went fairly accordingly. Djokovic absolutely beat down Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. Djokovic is just too sharp at the moment while Gasquet has zero belief against top guys at Slams. Novak now goes into the Nadal match without losing a set and full of confidence. And he’s won 26 straight.
Nadal cruised in the first two sets but then let down in the third just a few games from the finish line. Jack Sock used his powerful forehand to break Nadal a couple times to take the third, but that was it as Nadal won his 39th straight match in Paris 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.
Sock showed himself to be a real threat. At just 22 he’ll have a nice future.
So who’s playing better between the two? I’d have to say Novak, but this is Rafa’s house and if you ignore the last 11 months, you’d say things are just fine.
Andy Murray also looks just fine. He dropped a set but advanced over Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Murray’s won 14 straight matches.
“I wasn’t overly concerned,” Murray said to the BBC. “I had a lot of chances in the second set.
“He had one break point, which he obviously won, but throughout the course of the match I was creating many more opportunities than him.
“I just had to take my chances when they came. I did that in the third and fourth sets.”
And next for Andy is David Ferrer who blew out Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.
“He’s much more aggressive,” Ferrer said about Murray. When he uses the different shots he has to play, he’s one of the best players in the Top 3. If, in addition to this, you were to count his talent, I think that he’s more aware of what’s happening. Not just on quick surfaces, but also on clay. He’s much more serene and calm.”
And then we had the completion of Roger Federer and Gael Monfils. Gael once again started flat and really didn’t have the same energy as he did last night when they stopped. So in the end it was pretty routine for Roger as he won going away 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“I wanted to get off to a good start, because you never know how he will be playing,” said Federer. “So I felt good. I was calm yesterday. I was calm this morning. So we (Stefan Edberg and I) adopted the right game plan and the right tactical approach. I’m very happy.”
Monfils said his lack of energy was because he was sick.
“It was tough because I’m sick,” Monfils said. “I have not much energy. Yesterday, I thought that maybe we might not play and it would help me a little bit, and finally we did play. I was battling to get a set and actually for me one-set all was perfect.
“I didn’t have a great night last night, so it was maybe a mistake. Roger played solid. I think not very decent, but just a solid match. I couldn’t challenge him because I was too tired… When you’re 100 per cent is it’s never easy to beat Roger, so when you’re not 100 per cent it is definitely impossible.”
It’s always something with Gael.
Looking ahead to Tuesday…
JW Tsonga v Kei Nishikori
I like the way Tsonga is playing. And I also like the way Nishikori’s been playing. So this is a tough match to call.
Tsonga’s on one of those runs he seems to get on once or twice a year. When and where it will stop no one knows. It’s just fun to watch as he virtually becomes unbeatable. But Nishikori has the skills to put a halt to it. He’s beaten Tsonga four out of five even twice before indoors in Paris in 2013 and 2014 – a surprising result. So he won’t be in fear, nor will he be overwhelmed by the occasion.
“We haven’t played a long time,” said Nishikori.. “He’s coming back very strong. He has a big serve [and] big forehand. He’s always a dangerous player… So it’s going to be fun match.”
My gut tells me Tsonga, the numbers say Nishikori. I’m going to go with the numbers here. Kei’s the better player on clay and he’s been the better player this season.
The Pick: Nishikori in 4
Stan Wawrinka v Roger Federer
If you take away the names and numbers and just look at the style of play, Wawrinka would be the favorite. Then you realize he has so many problems mentally with his countryman that he almost never wins. And the head-to-head bears that out.
Federer leads 16-2 and has never lost to Stan in a Grand Slam match. Yes, Stan’s beaten him in Monte Carlo a couple of times, but this is the big time right here. And Roger’s in clay form, not finding it like in April.
“It [will be] a special match,” said Federer. “It is not a traditional match. There aren’t too many Swiss players in the draw… It’s always special to play each other. There will be a Swiss guy in the semifinal. That’s positive. I hope I will reach the semifinal of a tournament. I will pull out all the stops to advance to the next round. If I will not make it, I will be very happy for Stan.”
Honestly, with the way Stan’s been playing he should win. Based on styles and game and surface, this is Stan’s match. But look what happened in Rome last month when Stan didn’t even show up. I don’t think that happens here. I also don’t think he can pull the upset.
Roger’s been playing well. Really attacking nicely. And I expect him to have a good day against a familiar face.
The pick: Federer in 4
Tennis Channel has live coverage of the men’s quarters and the women’s from 8am ET.
TUESDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Philippe-Chatrier Court 2:00 PM Start
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) vs. Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Suzanne-Lenglen Court 2:00 PM Start
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) vs. Lucie Safarova (CZE)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)
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