In tomorrow’s matches, Murray will beat the 21 year-old “Special-K” (Karen Khachanov) but what a nice run from the Russian who beat Berdych and Isner en route to his R16 date with the no. 1 seed. Murray looks like he’s finding some energy and stronger form with Lendl looking on and the stakes terribly high. Needlesstosay, Murray losing here is rich failure.
Murray will play Nishikori in that top QF, meaning the Japanese guy who survived his match with the 21 year-old South Korean, Hyeon Chung, will beat Verdasco in that R16 match tomorrow. That I am picking Nishiouchi means I am insane, but this is all part of the contradiction of me when I called the top half the least reliable draw in the history of men’s underwear.
In fact, I should stick with Fernando here. The only reason stems from Kei’s likely inspiration in pulling-out that 5-setter. He’s probably injured (which again makes the Verdasco call smarter). Just win the match Nishikori; quit bullshitting everyone.
Stan will play Cilic in that other QF because Stan has no patience for a guy like Monfils and Stan does look deadly with this FH on serial killer mode. Even his exhibition match with Fognini gave him great hitting practice. He seems to be dialing-in his Stanimal zone. God forbid Monfils provides any sort of antics resembling some of his other tank-jobs. Stan gets impatient when an opponent requests medical. He should deliver a solid beat-down to the Frenchman.
Cilic is rampant like he was at Wimbledon and Cincinnati last year. We won’t bring-up USO 2014, but we have seen Cilic like this before. He can flatten the ball, hit big, and he’s returning serve well. He won the 2005 French Open Boys’ championship. He can play clay for his size; he looks comfortable.
Of course, Anderson has game, too. He beat Kyrgios and Edmund, both young, both big strikers. I just like Cilic, which, like Nishikori, makes me want to take a cold shower with a stiff drink.
The QFs are set.
As for what happened today, I watched most of the Djokovic victory. He looked good today and clean in beating a tough clay courter.
The first set TB, of course, played a big role in this match and the Spaniard got very close to taking that first swig of momentum that could have made this a very different match. He was down 0-4 in the TB before bouncing back and making things quite tense for the Djokovic camp. After securing the TB at 7-5, the Serb was in control.
The one caveat I’ve had with Djokovic through out this slump has been how he handles adversity. He hasn’t handled it very well. Schwartzman doesn’t have the tennis to close-out Djokovic despite leading 2 sets to 1. And that Schwartzman match probably did give Novak more confidence, winning a 5-setter (he said this in his PC).
Deeper in the draw that will be more difficult. Even a guy like Ramos-Vinolas would have been quite the menace had he won that first set. His FH was making the Serb work and his fitness and clay comfort were real factors.
But Novak’s ground strokes from both sides got deeper and cleaner as the match wore-on, partly from the relief of winning that first set, I suspect. Still, the Serb’s chances here boil-down to the obvious, which is evidenced in the matches: is he playing into peak; or is his tennis still too inconsistent and given match difficulty, will his emotions get the better of him?
It was interesting to hear McEnroe and Carillo call the match. The commentary is pretty abundant. They talked about how Djokovic’s own antics and unpopular behavior should be seen as an extension of his family’s, which is well-documented. I have pointed to this quite often, mainly to call bullshit on the Nolefruitcakes out there who are at a loss as to why people don’t “buy” Nole (will Lacoste become a more popular brand?).
More to our concern was an exchange where Mary suggested that we ask this question, at the QF: who would Nadal rather face: Novak or Thiem? Mary said she’d caught wind of Nadal’s camp and claimed that the Nadal camp is more concerned with Thiem. Johnny Mac immediately chimed-in: No way. Mac clarified his view that Novak is a much bigger threat to Nadal here at the French.
I’m with Mac. We will never know exactly because Nadal will only play one of them. Despite Thiem’s win over Rafa at Rome, Novak is playing into form here, it appears to me, and in a SF, if Novak takes care of Thiem in the QF, Nadal will have his hands full.
The experience alone says Novak is a bigger threat.
I think with Rafa’s unbelievable run throughout the spring clay and especially here in Paris this week, he’s become a huge favorite (his match score lines, his confidence, La Decima, etc.). Many people think the championship is on Nadal’s racquet.
Which means Novak is an underdog. He is an underdog, should be the underdog in a potential SF. But with his direction of play ->> toward peak and Nadal trying to hold-on to this astonishing level . . . very interesting.
And I am not forgetting Thiem. Of course we recall the beat-down two weeks ago in Rome at the hands of Novak, but this is a different context and the Serb has shown some up-and-down form from match to match.
You know we beliem in Thiem, but the Serb, as we have been predicting over the last few days, might be finding a necessary peak. Necessary for two reasons:
- We find it necessary that he continues his climb in form and consistency to overcome his slump demons and his opponents (some of whom are playing at a very high level) for any chance to win this major.
- We find it necessary that he find this peak because winning this major (as I have argued since his USO loss) is critical to his legacy. A loss would extend the slide, imho.
The second week of the French Open is here, ladies and gentleman. Enjoy.