Monday, June 4, 2012

French Open Quarters All Set

Djokovic and Tsonga
As expected, No.5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga closed out the delayed match against No.18 Stan Wawrinka, 6-4. By doing so, he set up a quarterfinal contest with No.1 Novak Djokvic. Since Tsonga’s win over Djokovic in the Quarters of the Ausrtalian Open in 2010, Djokovic has beaten him three straight, including a four-set victory in the Semis at Wimbeldon last year. Can Tsonga remain consistent enough to outlast Djokovic on the dirt of Roland Garros? I wouldn’t bet on it.

Nadal Still Da Man
But does it even matter whether Djokovic beats Tsonga? No.2 Rafael Nadal still looms large over the entire proceeding, and he appears to be healthy. How healthy? Well, let’s see: In four matches, Rafa hasn’t come close to losing a set. Typically, things get tougher as you get closer to the finish line in a Grand Slam; right? Rafa’s Round-of-16 opponent, Juan Monaco, won a total of two games in three sets, eating bagels (sans cream cheese) in the final two.

Rafa and Almagro
Next up for Rafa is No.12 Nicolas Almagro. Almagro has lost all seven times the two have played. At least Almagro has won sets two of the last three times they have played, so he’s good enough to give Rafa a run if Rafa’s off his game. I’ll give you some good odds if you want to bet Almagro.

Federer and Del Potro
For the Roger Federer fans out there, of which I acknowledge being one, we can only hope that Fed has some of the magic left that we haven’t seen for some time in a Grand Slam.  To reach the Final, Fed has to get by No.9 Juan Martin Del Potro next, and then either Djokovic or Tsonga. Roger’s record is solid against Delpo (11-2), so if he plays well he should reach the Semis.

His record against Jo-Willy is also good (8-3), but chances are he will face Da Djoker, and his record against Djokovic is 1-5 over the last six meetings. The good news for us Fed fans is that Roger’s record against Djokovic on clay is 1-1, and their last meeting on clay belonged to Roger in straight sets. Also, Djokovic has shown some chinks in the armor that was impregnable in 2011, so there’s hope Fed fans…albeit just a sliver.  

Murray and Ferrer
The matchup between No.4 Andy Murray and No.6 David Ferrer ought to be as good as any in the Men’s Quarters. Murray has beaten Ferrer four of the last five, but his four wins were on hard courts, and Ferrer’s one win was on clay. In fact, Murray has never beaten Ferrer on clay (0-3), and Ferrer’s one win in those last five was on hard court in straight sets at the Tour Championships last year. It ought to be a humdinger of a match, but I’m thinking Ferrer will outlast Murray.

Sharapova into Quarters
In the second set of her match against unseeded and unheralded Klara Zakopalova, it appeared as though No.2 Maria Sharapova would fall victim to the Niles Curse. Sharapova served for the match twice in the second set, only to be broken, and then lost the tiebreak. When she went up 5-1 in the third, and was broken again, it was “uh oh” time for the Sharapova camp. But that is why I admire Sharapova. She has shown time and time again that she is much more than a pretty face on court, endorsements notwithstanding. She broke Zakapolova to claim her spot in the Quarters.

Sharapova and Kanepi
As predicted, Sharapova will take on No.23 Kaia Kanepi next, and if today’s lapse in confidence and sharpness (12 double faults and 53 unforced errors) resurface against Kanepi, it will be another war of attrition. It took Sharapova over three hours today, more than her previous three matches combined!  Kanepi needed three sets to put away unseeded Arantxa Rus, and I’m having a hard time seeing her prevail over Sharapova…but again, it is the Women’s Draw.

Kvitova Downs Lepchenko
No.4 Petra Kvitova dispatched the last “American” standing, the unseeded Varvara Lepchenko, 6-2, 6-1. Lepchenko appeared to have stage fright, and had nothing to counter Kvitova’s big game. Kvitova’s pedestrian numbers held up against Lepchenko (53% first serves, 18 winners, no aces) and they may hold up against the other unseeded player she will face in the Quarters, Yaroslava Shvedova.

Shvedova Upsets Li- Kvitova Next
Shvedova wrestled the match away from No.7 Na Li after losing the first set 3-6. Shvedova took advantage of Li’s second serve and 41 unforced errors, playing solid tennis en route to her matchup with Kvitova. Kvitova can be wild at times, and that is what Shvedova will need to upset the No.4 Seed.

Great Matchups
The No.6 Stosur versus No.15 Cibulkova matchup promises to be the juiciest, along with the No.10 Kerber versus No.21 Errani battle (see previous post). Bottom line is that there is plenty of scintillating tennis on tap for the next few days. Enjoy! Game, set, match…T. A.

1 comment:

  1. T.A. I agree with your take on the quarters. Watch for me int he coach's box. My heart is torn as I am a French-Serbian. But I have to go for my friend Tsonga. Alex