Djokovic v Tsitsipas, Nadal v Schwartzman Fri. At French Open; SF Picks And Pans
by Sean Randall | October 8th, 2020, 9:38 pm

We are down to four in the final Slam of 2020. And because of the virus, this unusual Slam season will end on the clay in the middle of October. But what won’t be unusual are the last four players left standing.

We witnessed some strange results in New York and especially so in the women’s draw this week in Paris, but the men’s event has largely gone to form.

After his big, emotional run at the US Open, Dominic Thiem was understandably gassed against Diego Schwartzman, and the little Argentine nearly couldn’t take advantage. But Schwartzman got it done and earned a well-deserved, long-awaited berth in his first Grand Slam semifinal.

Novak Djokovic seemed to have shrugged off that disappointing, if not humiliating, conclusion to his US Open, by returning to a 10th French Open semifinal. Djokovic was in good form and good health until his rematch with Pablo Carreno Busta Wednesday when the Serb’s neck/shoulder issues re-emerged.

Hopefully, after 24-36 hours of rest and treatment, he’ll be ok. He’ll have to be against the suddenly-hot Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek hasn’t made as much noise as we thought we he burst on the scene in 2018 then made the semifinals in Australia five months later.

Now, 22, he’s back again and after going down two sets in his opener to Rafa’s student Jaume Munar, he’s romped winning 15 straight sets including a win over Andrey Rublev. If there were disappointments this week, to me, it’s the Russians.

Rublev was up 5-3 in the first against the Greek but somehow couldn’t close despite all the firepower in his arsenal.

Karen Khachanov, who lost to Djokovic, is 6-foot-6 but plays with about as much power as 5-foot-7 Schwartzman. And for some reason Medvedev just can’t get it right on the clay.

And then there’s Rafael Nadal. Wind, rain, snow, cold, hot, roof, no roof, May, October, it doesn’t seem to matter. The King of Clay doesn’t miss a beat. Rafa hasn’t dropped a set and despite the conditions and late nights, he’s once again the favorite to win a 13th.

Jannik Sinner, who will likely be Top 20 within the next year, pushed him a bit early on, but in best-of-5, it has to be such a tall order to pull off the win. It’s like staring at a mountain that you cannot see the peak. Scaling that mountain, beating Rafa on Chatrier is the toughest thing to do in tennis. And that’s Schwartzman’s task.

Rafael Nadal v Diego Schwartzman
We’ve seen multiple times already this week that turnabout is fair play. Tsitsipas got back on Rublev for Hamburg. Djokovic did the same against Carreno Busta and even in the women’s draw, Iga Swiatek reversed her blowout loss to Simona Halep in Paris a year ago. So Nadal is going to have his revenge for losing to the Argentine three weeks ago in Rome.

I know Schwartzman is probably playing the best tennis he ever has, and I think he’ll be fit after that 5-hour marathon win against Thiem. But he’ll have to even player better! I just don’t think he’ll have enough for Rafa over five sets.

Nadal leads 9-1 and Schwartzman played him tough a few years ago before the rains stopped his momentum. Schwartzman got his Rome win, made his first Masters final and has now made his first Slam semifinal, and I think he’ll be content with that. He’ll take it.

For Schwartzman to win, Rafa will have to have a bad day because the Argentine just doesn’t have the raw power to continually damage Nadal. And as we saw in Rome and against Thiem, he gets tight in big moments.

So I think Rafa’s going roll into a 13th French Open final.
The Pick: Nadal in 3

Novak Djokovic v Stefanos Tsitsipas
If Djokovic’s neck/shoulder are worse or if he’s simply off his game, he’s going to lose. Stefanos Tsitsipas has beaten Djokovic twice before, has wins over Roger Federer and he even has a win against Rafa on clay.

The kid is talented and fearless and won’t be starstruck by the moment. His problem is, right now Djokovic is just a little bit better, especially on clay. So if Djokovic is on his game, he’ll get through.

Tsitsipas will have to continue to serve great, play well at the net and stand near the baseline. All things he’s been doing.

But if you look at guys Djokovic loses to in Paris, you’ll see they can bully him. Stan Wawrinka, Nadal and Thiem. Tsitsipas isn’t really a grind-it-out, get in the mud, bully kind of player. I don’t think his mindset is to stay out there for hours and hours belting balls.

And then you have Djokovic who I think is playing with a bit of a chip after his US Open incident. I think Tsitsipas’s time will come, just not now.
The Pick: Djokovic in 5

How crazy would it be if the final Sunday ended up Schwartzman v Tsitsipas? As long as the calendar says 2020, I guess anything is possible. But last I checked, Nadal is still in the tournament and Rafa on clay is about the surest thing there is right now.

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16 Comments for Djokovic v Tsitsipas, Nadal v Schwartzman Fri. At French Open; SF Picks And Pans

JD Says:

Though the content is good the quality is going down..Their didn’t olay in Rome…also typos

jatin Says:

Incredible Rafa once again.
Onto the 13th french finals. One match away to tie Fed’s record.
At this point there is only one guy who can challange him here and that is Novak. I am just saying challange because it would take performance of his life to take out Rafa in this court. He is simply UNBEATABLE here.

Excited for Tsitsipas vs Novak semis now. Should be a cracker.

Daniel Says:

Djoko complicating a match that should be a sttaight set win. Now Tsisipas going for his shots, not missing much and fourth set it is.

Assuming Djoko still gets through, think he makes histiry with 2nd career Slam.

They haven’t faces in this court since their last RG match, 2015, where Djokovic annihilated Nadal, a match I saw live there. Now Djoko not only knows he can beat Nadal here, he also has an RG title, whereas in the past he had that pressure of an elusive RG. To me he will be slight favorite. He will just arrive unbeatable in finals.

Anto Says:

WTF is happening to Djokovic. Is the unthinkable possible? Probably not. But well done for Tsitsipas so still plays as he believes he can turn it around. Good match so far.

jatin Says:

Tsitsipas is redlining big time now

Anto Says:

Djokovic double break up now. It is truly over now.

Daniel Says:

Djoko for 2nd career slam sujday and arguably GOAT.
With the year end #1 record that will follow, plus beating Fed’s 310 weeks next year, Masters records, 18 Slams, with 2 career Slams (unprevedent in mes tennis), the Djoko Slam (4 in a row) plus his HxH with other 2 Goatees, The debate will pretty much be over. Unless both Fed and Nadal wins more.
If Djoko reaches 20, than there will be nothing left to argue about.

jatin Says:

I think the best match of Roland Garoos this year. 3rd and 4th set was incredibly high quality from both players. In the end Tsitsipas kind of faded away but man he showed what he is capable of.
As for Novak, He is the mental BEAST and he is unbeatable this year as well.

And it would be incredible to see two gladiators facing each other again.

Last time ironically it was Novak who beat Rafa here 5 years ago.
Very excited to see how this clash would fare up this time.

Van Persie Says:

Wow, what a match. Amazing points…

Rafa did not impress me much, Nole dis, but he plaesd a long match. I think it is a balance.


I hope Rafa and Nole will reach and beat Rogers records, so that the GOAT debate finally ends.

There ia no GOATness 🙂

Wog Boy Says:

Typical bloody Serbian, why simple when you can complicate it.

Van Persie Says:


He had match point at the end of the 3rd…at the en dof the 4th, I was afraid he might lose it.

I really think he has a hood chance, but Rafa is the fave:his surface, his kingdom and he is not very tired. But Noles serve would beat Rafas and he played also much better.

Let’s see

Wog Boy Says:

VP, agree, there can be only one favourite on Philippe Chatrier court and that’s Rafa.

Daniel Says:

Schwatrz was too predictable today, almost no drop shots and he hardly went FH dtl, as he did in Rome. Also, he didn’t attack any seocnd serves and he almost won a set. Djoko does evertyhing better, serve better, eventually will eat some Rafa’s second serve, DTl frokmboth wings and his cross vourr FH on the run is insane this tourney.

Can only see Nadal winning if he mimics 2014 3rd and 4set wehn we has killing FH DTL.

There is a reaosn he hasn’t beat Novak in Slams since 2014 and yes, this is RG. But the only thing legt for Djoko to do, is beat Nadal in a RG final. And that man seems to do anything once he sets his mind to. Also last Slam final he lost was Wawa USO 2016, he is 5-0 since.

Dave Says:


I totally agree about Diego today. He did not play well at all. Djokovic is on a 40 match winning streak. 14 degrees is the high on Sunday. With 73 percent humidity. Only 12 kmh winds. Nadal will literally need to play like 2014 to have a chance. You’re right. Or even better. If Nadal wins, it will be an epic performance by him and give him so much confidence going forward. To know he won in conditions that didn’t favor him against his biggest rival. I would have had complete confidence in a Djokovic win had he won in straight sets. But now it feels more 55-45. Or even 50/50. Without Nadal being tested, I just haven’t seen a high enough level from him to make him the favourite for this match. Diego was that bad. 60% of what he was against Thiem today.

Daniel Says:

Sinner actually push Nadal for 2 sets. His angle BHs were amazing. He even served for 1st set.

But we saw this again and again, Nadal looks awesome until he meets Djoko, vis AO 2019.

Dave Says:


I was just saying to a friend that it reminds me of the AO 2019. I also saw the Sinner match and thought if this was Novak in this situation Rafa would be in trouble. And don’t forget about the Sinner drop shot, The worst I’ve seen to this day. He donated 6 put aways easy to Nadal because of such terrible drop shots. I do believe Rafa can still bring and will bring a high level to this match. Its just to difficult to tell how high that will be.

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