Roland Garros at the QF

Novak+Djokovic+French+Open+May+2019

Djokovic v Zverev

Perhaps the only player(s) who can challenge the Serb’s historical run at his second La Coupe des Mousquetaires, his second Novak Slam, his sixteenth major and his Double career Grand Slam are an absolutely rampant Thiem and/or Nadal.

However, this is sport; and what complicates my first point above is that there is a reason we love to say, with regards to sport: “this is why they play the game;” in other words, no one really knows what’s going to happen.

Did anyone see Khachanov beating Novak in the 2018 Paris Masters final?

Did any geniuses out there have Zverev beating Novak in the London 2018 ATP Singles final?

No.

Novak has all three of those blokes (Domi, Karen and Sascha) left in his draw to get into this year’s French Open final. He has Zverev next in the quarters, followed by the winner of Thiem v Khachanov.

Zverev did well to dispose of Fognini today. I caught the fourth set, which signified the Italian’s last chance to push it to a fifth and probably break the German, fill him with more doubt and continue to dash the 22 year-old’s hopes at validating his top-tier tennis (we’ll put majors — Bo5 — well above Masters or WTFs). Zverev’s challenges in this format, in majors, is well known. He looked pretty shaky getting to this match with Fognini today.

Unfortunately, I missed the bounce-back from going-down a set to the crafty Italian, coming through 62 62 to secure his advantage in this big match. The fourth was a decent back-and-forth and the tie-break fairly uneventful. Solid win for the German.

He’s dangerous for Novak because of his power, his serve. The Djoker can toy with big serves, but any and all free points one can find against the top-seed are extremely valuable. Zverev’s ground strokes can be quite good, too, and the German can come to net, which can add a little variety and challenge even to his king-of-the-mountain quarter final opponent on Wednesday.

I did not see Novak routine Struff. We have confirmation that the Serb is back to his indomitable form, which these days (years) is starting to coincide with majors. His next two matches will confirm this reality (although if the stage is too big for Zverev and/or the Russian and Austrian beat each other to a pulp, perhaps Novak simply waltzes into the final).

I’ve seen this clinical form too often. I know exactly what Novak is up to. The next couple few rounds could be simply all-time.

Hopefully, Zverev gives us some hope in the future of this sport, makes a decent showing and adds to a really nice week and half of tennis; don’t let us down, Alexander.

Thanks.

Thiem v Khachanov

This should be a beauty. Khachanov should have plenty left after his triumphant win over Del Potro today. I said a Khachanov win would be good for the sport; if that seems counter-intuitive or just subjective and too opinionated, sorry, but a nearly washed-up Juan Martin, battling height, injury and age is not who I want to see in the QF vs Thiem. Suppose the Argentine wins today, and then beats Thiem. Djokovic would rag-doll the guy. Djokovic may rag-doll everyone, but a Thiem or Khachanov adds much more intrigue and youthful athletic talent than does the melo-dramatic and worn-and-torn tower of Tandil.

That was a marvelous win for the Russian today. Watching him battle his elder, trying valiantly to close-out Delpo; to see him finally come-through, hold enough service games to cross the finish-line with arms extended into the Paris spring — I’m very excited for him and for the draw, for the sport in general. We all needed this Russian win. Believe me.

Thiem taking good care of Monfils was fairly predictable. He’s a proven clay commodity, a proven championship quality at this point. He carries some gigantic wins on his racquet.

Where Delpo ran out of gas in those bigger spots today against Khachanov, Domi should be there with a heavier ball coming back, lots of character, lots of heavy artillery and Roland Garros experience in his game. This could be a classic.

Federer v Wawrinka

This is just too good to be true. Stan’s win over Tsitsipas is the stuff of legend. I’m starting to think this Stanimal myth has as much to do with magic as it does monstrosity.

Even though his ability to survive all of those BPs comes partly from the deuce/ad out dynamic (which exaggerates this number of BPs), this does seem a bit Houdini-like. I have a video of Stan almost 20 feet behind the BL, on ROS, and Stefanos hits a big FS to the ad court, coming to net to pounce; Stan, from way back, hits a genius shorter CC BH, dipping just over the net, too low and wide for the Greek’s S&V attack. The Lenglen crowd roars and the big Swiss 2015 French Open champion waves his wand to ignite even more cheers, more magic.

You almost felt bad for Tsitsipas. He played brilliant major championship quality tennis; he’s only 20 years-old. We have been gifted his services for years and years to come.

But Wawrinka rolled.

How does he fair against his ageless mentor?

I am actually buying into the possibility that Roger might be disappointed in playing on Lenglen again, Nadal and Nishikori getting the green light to play Philippe-Chatrier. Will Federer really play a less-inspired brand of tennis?

Will Stan be too taxed to bring what he needs to beat Federer who’s in cruise-control?

Stan is 3-22 against Roger.

But all three wins have been on the red dirt. Their last meeting on clay was in 2015, in Roland Garros, the last time Federer played this tournament. Stan prevailed in the QF there 4 3 and 6(4). Wawrinka went on to win the title that year.

Stan is back from his knee injury, apparently. He’s made steady progress and beating Stefanos puts him in a good position to play spoiler again.

If it gets long and ugly, we have to like Stan here. Can Roger keep it classy and clever?
That’s the decider. Still tough to not like that Ljubičić business-end tennis that Roger plays in these twilight hours of Federera.

Can’t wait for the first couple of sets to see where we go.

Nadal v Nishikori

Can Kei win a set?

Enjoy the tennis, folks!

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