Hello tennis fans, sorry I didn’t check in for the last round, I think this blog will be so much easier to maintain when I’m back from Ghana in September! But I digress, Roland Garros really took a few exciting turns over the last few days. There’s only 8 men left now so I thought I’d change things up for this recap post by looking at their chances of claiming this title.
This is still a make or break tournament for the world number 1, he faces perhaps the biggest match of his season so far in the quarter finals, but the signs appear to be good. He played extremely well in an almost 3 hour match with Juan Martin Del Potro in round 3, in particular coming up with some clutch play in that tiebreak. He just wore down DelPo in the end, which is what Murray does to the top guys at his best.
He then came up against Karin Khachanov after the Russian bounced John Isner out in four sets. Once again, he played well, in a thoroughly professional performance where it would’ve been easy to have lost focus. He can’t face Nadal until the final, but he surely won’t be thinking about that, as he has a must win match against Kei Nishikori next. He needs a top ten win before the grass season without a doubt.
It’s been a strange few days for Kei, he’ll be pleased to be in the quarter finals after frankly an average season so far by his high standards, and also producing fairly average play. He was up two sets to love against Hyeon Chung, before losing a third set tiebreak and getting bagelled in the fourth set… before Chung ran out of steam in the fifth. Seriously, Kei was on the ropes here. Then against Verdasco (who annihilated my pick Pablo Cuevas), he again got bagelled in set 1. Kei definitely profited from Verdasco not exactly being one of the most clutch players on tour, to take it in 4. He’ll need to swing free against Murray to have a chance of progressing, as the world number 1 will not be as charitable.
Now, here’s a potential story. Wawrinka has impressed so far, beating two decent clay courters in their own right in Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils in straight sets in two entertaining matches. He’s beginning to laser in that backhand again, which is bad news for everyone else. The most pleasing aspect for him is that he’s coming through the tight games, winning all four tiebreaks he’s played so far. The draw seems to have opened up for him now, and if he can maintain his Stanimal focus, the 2015 champ will find himself in another final.
After hit and miss results this clay season, Cilic’s impressive run was unexpected to say the least. He’s not dropped a set yet against some talented opposition, and he’s playing his way into confidence, and form. Kevin Anderson’s retirement may not have helped him though, and facing Stan next is a big ask for Marin, as he plays in only his 9th slam quarter final, (3-5 record) and his first here.
What a tournament the Spaniard is having! After an excellent clay season, he’s backing it up in the slam which is great to see. He’s beaten Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic back to back, the latter of which he took the match 8-6 in the deciding set! The reward for his efforts? Rafael Nadal. Ouch. Tennis can be cruel. He gave it everything against Raonic in one of the matches of the tournament, so only he knows how much he’s got left in the tank for Rafa.
The clear favourite, the only question this event is if anyone can stop him. He’s embarked on perhaps one of his most impressive slam runs ever, barely dropping games let alone sets. He’s dropped 20 games in four grand slam matches, that is just frightening! The elephant in the room however, is that he’s faced Paire, Haase, Basilashvili and Bautista-Agut, with Carreno-Busta next up. Hardly the stuff of nightmares.
He’s benefitted from David Goffin’s unfortunate injury, (thankfully it’s not serious) but Thiem to his credit has upped his game this event, and he seems to be very confident coming in off that win over Rafa in Rome. He’ll likely get a rematch in the semi finals, if he can overcome the Serbinator himself. He’s got a shot against Novak, the Serb is still nowhere near his best, but could he back it up against Rafa straight after? We may find out if Thiem is the real deal once and for all here.
He has really impressed me this tournament. He knows this is an important time for him to kickstart his season, and he’s hauling himself over the line. He didn’t panic against Schwartzman, in the end easing to victory in sets 4 and 5, and he may have played his best tennis so far against Ramos-Vinolas, a player who has enjoyed his career-best clay season. He’s in just the right place now to take on Thiem, it’ll be tough sure, but the way he’s going who knows he might just peak at the exact right time. A lack of recent big matches might be the only factor that slows him down, like with the Rome final.