Really I was 4/4 on my predictions; you have to give me that fourth win, especially with my touching allusion to the Italian Renaissance. You might recall how bad a few of my predictions were about a month ago, perhaps during Madrid? I’ll take the losses just as well as I’ll take the wins.
My initial call on the Cecchinato v Goffin match was spot-on, but I made a little turn there only not to piss-off my dwindling Belgium readership. I’m not too high on Goffin and thought he’d be too gassed for today’s match, calling the Italian a victor in four sets.
The tele gave us very little Goffin/Cecchinato, but when they did turn to that match, Goffin looked like he’s been run-over by a truck. He did it to himself, of course, playing too many sets, perhaps not finding some of that solid form he showed-us a bit last year, especially.
Djokovic indeed had too much for the Spaniard. The match got off to an odd start, the first three games taking the players over thirty minutes to decide. That third game was a Djokovic hold that lasted about fifteen minutes. The worst part for Verdasco, other than missing badly on a few BPs in that third game, was the obvious boomerang break that was coming.
If Fernando breaks there, maybe a slightly different match. Going down 1-3 in the first after such a tight first couple of games, BPs missed, GPs saved, etc., after about forty minutes of baseline all-you-can-eat — that might’ve finished him right there. Looks like he struggled a bit with a foot, but either way the Serb had his early advantage and that was enough.
Novak has a nice draw, certainly not cupcake by any means; enough to make him work his ass-off in some of these pretty straight-forward wins, having dropped only a set. That match in particular (RBA) assured the Serb that he needed to find some of that buttoned-up quality to stay-in points and have enough to finish points on this French chalk.
He looks solid. His physical presence is still coming; he has so much mental strength probably too yet to be harvested. Even a few years ago, during his magnificent run, he would save his best form for the business-end of the tournament. So long as can find that upper-hand in these matches, he should be more and more difficult to beat especially considering that ROS.
I made the right call on Zverev, obviously. That played-out about as true to form as I had imagined. The Russian would get a little reckless and that would be enough for Sascha to survive. He just survived but we can sense a kind of calm (probably massive fatigue) in his five-set wins. He was criticized for his inability to go five and now that’s all he does.
We’ll preview the Thiem v Zverev QF later, but tough to think Zverev can bounce-back to tame the Austrian whirling-dervish. Later on that.
Speaking of Thiem, this went to form, as well. I missed the first two sets, which are great signs for Dominic (or terrible for Kei). Thiem had a little food caught in his throat as he tried to close, serving-out that fourth set. The few serve-and-volleys he employed unsuccessfully (his first S&V of the match) prompted Courier (on the call) to practically imitate the sound of a choke.
We could all sense Dom wanting to get to the locker-room. He’s good to go. And we suspect he has some fitness still to burn. Still he’s one of the better watches, especially on clay where he has the time to absolutely grip and rip the ball on serve, FH/BH, you name it. He’s a full head of steam and given he’s been to two RG SF already in his career, he might be a pretty tough out here, at least in that bottom half. More later.
Let’s make this quick:
Nadal is playing a lefty who made the Munich SF in April, beat Schwartzman and Fucsovics to get there, so he’s got a few chops, a big serve and the FH that looks pretty damaging. Here in Paris he made quick work of Harrison, and closed-out Shapovalov after dropping the first set 57 76 75 64. At the very least we have some fairly new German ATP blood, a guy that Nadal doesn’t already treat like a puppy.
Nadal should tame and make a picnic. Enjoy that one for me, as well.
Schwartzman has to beat Anderson. We’ll leave it at that.
In our draw analysis last week, we circled a Nadal v Schwartzman QF. For no other reason than this is what we want to eat, so please bring us the Rafa and Diego platter, with extra breaks-of-serve on that special sauce. Thanks!
Fognini v Cilic is a vastly interesting match. Fognini feels the love and when he’s got it going, like a Verdasco (maybe a Baghdatis-type), he can match you and beat you. He took a set from Nadal in Rome and I still think that if that match is at night, Rafa might’ve felt even more pressure.
And then we have #4 in the world Cilic. These two haven’t played since 2011, so throw any of that out. They’re 1-1 on clay, but still that’s ancient.
Does Fognini continue to channel his countrymen’s mojo, the myth of Bolelli and the arrival of Cecchinato in the 2018 Roland Garros Quarter-finals!
And finally, the battle of the bigs: Del Potro v Isner.
I have not seen much of Isner, but the word, like in Miami, is he’s unbreakable and seems to be finding that form (that he had a couple of months ago where he claimed a 1000).
As much as I love my countryman over there representing, and the idea that the serve is simply frightening, the Tower of Tandil smells the QF.
QF-bound: Nadal, Schwartzman, Fognini and Del Potro.