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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


Second seed and tournament favourite Nadal who is going for an unprecedented twelfth Roland Garros title this year dropped his first of the tournament on route to a three-sets to one win against twenty seventh seed Goffin yesterday. After two routine wins against qualifiers, this was Nadal’s toughest test so far and it will no doubt give him a timely reminder of how much he needs to raise his level for the remainder of the tournament as things only get tougher from hear on in.

Third seed Federer was impressive again seeing off Norwegian NextGen star Rudd in straight sets. However, he could have also easily lost the third set, which he eventually won on a tie-breaker and like Nadal yesterday it illustrates how much more difficult it can be winning in straight sets over the best of five sets compared to three, especially when you’re in your mid to late thirties playing against much younger opponents.

Seventh seed Nishikori also faced his toughest test of the tournament so far yesterday against thirty first seed Djere from Serbia and it was no surprise to see a five-set nail-biter, which Djere should have won after going a break-up in the decider. However, Nishikori proved why he’s the top ten star, fighting back admirably to win the fifth set 8-6. Unseeded Frenchman Paire benefited from a fourth set retirement against Carreno-Busta who called it a day immediately after losing the third set on a tie-break at two sets to one down.

The other two unseeded French players in action yesterday, Wild Cards veteran Mahut, who is retiring this year, and NextGen 20-year-old Moutet were not as fortunate losing in four and five sets against two unseeded clay court specialists from Argentina Mayer and Londero respectively. 2015 French Open winner and twenty fourth seed Wawrinka faced the unseeded Dimitrov for the ninth time. Both players have performed much better so far this week compared to their overall 2019 form so far this season suggested they would and Wawrinka has one big foot in the fourth round as he led two sets to love when they suspended the match due to bad light last night.

The final men’s game yesterday was between NextGen Greek star and sixth seed Tsitsipas and the unseeded Krajinovic from Serbia. Tsitsipas raced to a two sets to love lead, looked like he might win in straight sets when he went a break up in the third, but out of nowhere he started to struggle as Krajinovic through everything he had left at him in a last ditch attempt to get back in to the match. Krajinovic managed to achieve this with Tsitsipas still struggling breaking back twice and at 5-3 Krajinovic served for the third set with the light fading badly but, Tsitsipas found a second wind and broke back then held to level things at 5-5 when the match was eventually suspended due to bad light.

Today’s men’s French Open action will bring the third round of the competition to an end and it involves all the remaining players from the top half of the draw. Top seed Djokovic faces surprise package qualifier Caruso from Italy who is ranked 150 in the world. Caruso has obviously punched way above his weight this week knocking out higher ranked players Munar from Spain and French veteran Simon in straights last time out, but his dream run will most likely come to an end today against the current best player in the world.

Fourth Seed Thiem (advised 7/1) will need to raise his game significantly if he wants to avoid an early exit against veteran clay court specialist Cuevas today as the Austrian laboured to beat much lower ranked opponents in the first two rounds. Fifth seed Zverev will also need to improve on previous overall performances at the French Open against the talented Serb and thirtieth seed Lajovic, who nearly beat him hear last year in a five-set thriller.

Eighth seed veteran Del Potro will also need to be at his best and improve on his performances so far against the unseeded Aussie Thompson today. There’s also question marks on whether or not the Tower of Tandil will start and/or finish the game after struggling with injury throughout his gruelling five set win against Nishioka on Thursday, especially as a rejuvenated and still youthful Thompson is at the peak of his powers after nearly quitting the game all together a few years ago when he was working as a labourer!

Ninth seed and Monte Carlo Masters 1000 Series winner Fognini and eighteenth seed Bautista Agut meet again today for the eleventh time in what has the potential to be the match of the day. Fognini leads the head-to-head 7-3 and 3-1 on clay and if he produces his best clay form, he should extend his winning record against the veteran Spaniard to 8-3. Tenth seed Khachanov should also progress to the fourth round for the third straight year today against big hitting Klizan as the Slovakian has already played two gruelling back-to-back five set matches this week which should hand the advantage to the younger fresher Russian.

Thirteenth Seed Coric will need to be at his best if he wants to make the fourth round for the first time against the in form big hitting German Struff today. The head-to-head stands at 2-2, Struff won their first two encounters on hard courts in 2017 and Coric won the last two in 2017 on indoor hard and 2018 on clay both in straight sets. Both players first two matches produced six tie breaks, Struff four and Coric two, and with hot weather and faster conditions forecast again today and both players proving difficult to break this week, we should witness at least one tie break in today’s encounter.

Fourteenth seed French veteran Monfils faces compatriot and surprise package this week 23-year-old Wild Card Hoang and Monfils can’t afford to underestimate his younger less experienced foe as Hoang has already knocked out two proven world class higher ranked opponents Dzumhur and Verdasco both in four sets.


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