Down in Rafa’s draw, we have nothing to report other than all eyes seem to be on the Korda kid, who, like the Ruud kid, may have legitimate legacy in those legs and arms and game. Though let’s be fair: Korda’s father, Petr, won a major, an Aussie Open in 1998 and lost to Courier in a French final in 1992 whereas Ruud’s dad looks to have no titles to his name though he reached #39 in the world back in 1995. Great to see, either way, these boys coming up in the game. Casper Ruud has been making serious noise, in Rome, Hamburg and now will hopefully entertain us here in Paris. Korda hopes for another win before he meets Nadal in R16.
Anyways, Rafa really has no threat until he sees Skinner/Cecchinato/Zverev in the QF. Skinner has some youthful promise and Cecchinato can actually play the clay, is a one-hander, and has that memorable (for him at least) win over Djokovic here in the 2018 QF. Zverev came back to earth today with an, apparently, awful five setter against Frenchman P-HH.
This means Nadal probably has zero challenge until the SF.
Speaking of that match, Rafa’s opponent will be the likes of Thiem or Wawrinka. We are one match from those two squaring-off in a potentially epic R16. Thiem has the aforementioned Ruud next, which might be interesting. Stan has local 20 year-old named Hugo Gaston.
What I want to clarify but certainly don’t want to jinx is the form and class of Dominic Thiem. He’s playing with a champion’s panache, something we’ve seen for years. He’s beaten the Big 3 (fairly regularly), won a Masters, on HC against Roger, no less. He’s been to two French finals and has the artillery that, factually, dwarfs most (but for one or two other players maybe) other games on tour.
I will really step in it here, I’m afraid, but I believe this (“I beliem in Thiem”), have so for a while, why I was so disturbed by his loss to Nadal on Arthur Ashe in 2018, or Novak in Melbourne in 2020: he has the make-up of the most elegant, destructive and technically advanced tennis of this era.
I will need to expound on this later, but let’s just say his one-handed game suits this era’s slower courts, and baseline ballistics. Roger’s was best suited for the quicker game, of the S&V veneration. The OHBH is clearly the more stylish and sophisticated approach to this glorious sport, capable of the more phenomenal shot-making, more breath-taking athleticism.
As Jim Courier said a few days ago, to beat Marin Cilic in straight sets is a solid day at the office. Both Cilic and Sock are probably not in top form, but for Thiem, fresh onto the clay, to dismiss these guys with relative ease speaks to his class, to his potential dominance.
His next match with Ruud could be interesting. Of course we suspect a Thiem victory, but the Norwegian has shown a clay prowess, which he’s modeled most likely after his childhood hero, Rafael Nadal.
Indeed, we want the Thiem vs Wawrinka R16. Is Stan reaching for the cape? Can’t wait to see this develop. Fingers crossed.
Schwartzman should undoubtedly emerge from his little section to face the winner of that (likely) Thiem vs Wawrinka match for that lower half’s other QF, the winner to face Nadal. 😀
The top half has imploded, which we already predicted more or less. Djokovic, avoiding anything weird like a default, or swallowing too much sand (no idea what that even means), looks to see a Garin or Khachanov in his R16, then an RBA/PCB/Berettini/Struff QF?
Medvedev, as we suspected, would not fair too well. Again, his game is limited. Guys have probably figured-out the awkwardness, the novelty. Being 6’6″ and seemingly mature beyond his years helps a great deal. Good ball striking and movement, too, for his size. But the offense, the court position? No thanks.
I remember in my post 2019 U.S. Open final commentary I challenged the praise being heaped on this kid. I recall people throwing around the term “legendary.” He’d made a remarkable run that summer, that tournament, and came very close to winning his first major, by beating Rafa in five.
This was not the case. And I questioned both that adjective, as well as the associated belief that he would win multiple majors. Of course, my challenge, to be honest, was also rooted in my frustration that he didn’t beat Rafa! 😉
Anyways, he’s gone. And Tsitsipas almost lost in that first round as well. I said he too didn’t really scare me (from an opponent’s perspective). Coming back from down 0-2 sets might have gotten the monkey of his back — maybe he can make a deep run here. Or maybe he’s hanging-on by a thread (we’re still leaning that way).
I will try to watch Cuevas vs Tsitsipas, a one-hander dirt brawl. I’m rooting for the Greek to get his shit together.
Rublev, escaping a big upset against Querrey (wouldn’t have been a huge upset, but an upset) gets Davidovich Fokina next, one of our favorites. This could be a very entertaining match. Do check that out, dear reader.
There’s some other names in that quarter that could be dangerous, a Lajovic, Dimitrov, some other Spaniards and South American clay courters.
Shapovalov is alive and well, too, of course. We liked him at the start. Would love to see him make a deep run here, perhaps face a surging Tsitsipas in that R16.
Well, that’s all for now. Thanks so much for reading. I hope you’re enjoying the tennis.
Did you see that American Presidential debate, by the way?
Presidential. Ha ha.