Djokovic v Struff
We’ve been writing about Struff’s stuff since clay began. In Barcelona, for instance, he sent-away Goffin in 3R and Tsitsipas in the R16 before losing to Nadal in the QF 57 57. The big German just beat Coric in a thriller and gets a shot at world #1 Djokovic next. The German’s been strong, but Novak looks very dialed-in, which we noticed in the first round. The Serb’s Roman holiday is a thing of the past, apparently. He’s routining folks and a definitive straight-set win in this next match would not surprise anyone. We’re just saying this Struff clay stuff is legit.
At the same time, let’s note, Coric seems to have dipped a bit, which is too bad. His 2018 showed a lot of promise. But he’s been beatable. The loss to Federer in Rome seemed a bad look for the Croat. He doesn’t appear to be building on that solid 2018 campaign.
Fognini v Zverev
The Italian still has some of that Monte Carlo form. He was less his esteemed self at home in Rome, but he appears to be back. A guy like Fabio prefers to play on the road, by the way, a little sports psychology from yours truly. Some are better in front of their own fans whereas some prefer to be the spoiler, the asshole.
I have not seen Sascha play, but I don’t like his tennis much in these Bo5 circumstances and the five-setters he’s playing don’t seem to challenge my view. If he beats the Italian, easily, maybe this man-child will carry a bag of confidence into his QF against Djokovic.
The Italian would love to beat Zverev, so I’ll go with the 2019 clay Masters champ in this one.
Thiem v Monfils
I really hope the Austrian’s wings are beginning to unfurl. We want an ascendant Thiem. I did watch some of the crucial tennis in today’s match against Cuevas. That was fun to watch. The OHBH boys were pure-ing some of those CC rips to be sure. Thiem, in the end, just has too much for the veteran fighter from South America. Great ball striking from both, from the best shot in the game.
One can see Thiem get into a little trouble from so deep in the court, which will be especially troubling vs the Djoker. Nonetheless, all bets are off if Domi finds his dominant form. He’s made the final 16 and he was a finalist last year. Is he finding that flight, or is he still less-than-perfect since his IW and Barcelona days?
Monfils will probably provide a decent test. This Frenchman has been brilliant since the winter/spring hard courts. He’s just a very dangerous player right now. Should be a good match. Might be a good field test for the RG 2018 runner-up.
Khachanov v Del Potro
I did not see the Argentine’s win today over Thompson; this win doesn’t tell me too much, even though I didn’t see the match. I did see him almost perish against Nishioka. And the knee looks like a mess. If Khachanov is on form, defending well, finding his power, holding his serve, Juan Martin is in for a tough one and the tennis only gets tougher.
I will certainly try to watch a bit of this. Big boy tennis. Should be some legit power out there, a violent encounter between the Russian and Argentinian.
We like Delpo’s big match backbone (the FH of course), but if his knee is at all a factor, we like the Russian (for the win and the health of the sport).
Tsitsipas v Wawrinka
We think Dimitrov actually brought a little quality to Paris, so we like the way Stan is purring along here. If he has an ounce of Stanimal in that bag and a bounce in that baseline brut strength, look the fuck out.
With Tsitsipas continuing to look very promising, this could be a great match. One-handers, the recent past and the future . . . I’m all-in on this one.
I say this is more on the Greek’s racquet. He’s been too good too often. Stan needs some really sharp tennis to get by the mature-beyond-his-years Greek youngster.
Federer v Mayer
More one-handers. Hip hip, hooray.
Hopefully, Federer continues his solid tennis. I saw most of the Otte match and a bit of the Ruud match. The German was a ball striker, as was the young Norwegian. Federer, of course, used his class and variety (even on clay) to get the best of these underclassmen. Seeing the Norwegian (Federer played his dad on tour back-in-the-day) gain some confidence at the end of that second set and through out the third was a bit of a tough look for the Fed faithful. Good for him, he was able to close-it-out.
He should do the same against Mayer. That QF has all kinds of intrigue.
We’ll leave it there, only to say we really want to see another Ljubičić v Nadal match with consequence (oops, I meant to say Fedal).
But a lot of tennis to play before we get there. This quarter is sheer OHBH brilliance: Federer/Mayer/Tsitsipas/Wawrinka.
Nishikori v Paire
This doesn’t really matter. Both are playing well, obviously. Kei escaped Djere. Paire has been a terror on clay the last couple of weeks. Who will give Nadal the greatest test?
Neither? I get it.
Both of these boys’ tanks are probably a little taxed. Both of these boys’ BHs are top five on tour. This is for Rafa’s CC FH.
Nadal v Londero
The only tennis I’ve seen from the Spaniard happened to be when his serve was broken back-to-back by Maden and when he reasserted himself against Goffin. Nice look at what the Belgian can do, but just not enough.
Nadal continues to look less than ideal, but I’m still saying the Rome win and the Roland Garros draw give him an edge, where he’s won 1 billion times.
Go back and see him in that third set against Maden. Kicking balls, practically pouting. He needs a near run-away train, crushing souls. Getting into even a glimpse of a competition scares the crap out of him. That’s what happens when you stand-up to a bully.
We at “go time” for this tournament. Buckle your seat belts.