by: Tom Cochrane
Defending champion Li Na’s quest for back-to-back French Opens is over, the seventh seed going down to Yaroslava Shvedova.
Day 9 Recap
All seemed to be going to plan for Li when the Chinese player claimed the opening set against Shvedova. But in cold and windy conditions, Li’s shots lacked their usual intensity and Shvedova took full advantage, reeling off 12 of the last 14 games to stun the reigning champion.
Shvedova next faces Petra Kvitova after the Wimbledon champion easily accounted for Varvara Lepchenko.
Second seed Maria Sharapova looked in similar trouble to Li when her opponent Klara Zakopalova won a second set tiebreaker to force their match to a deciding set. In a scrappy match featuring a multitude of breaks, double faults and unforced errors, Sharapova overcame some serving woes and a tenacious opponent to book her spot in the quarter-finals.
To earn a place in the semi-finals, Sharapova will need to beat Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who matched her career-best performance at Roland Garros by defeating Arantxa Rus in 3 sets.
In the men’s tournament, the Spaniards Nadal, Ferrer and Almagro were again at their dominating best. Trailing 2-1 in the first set, Nadal claimed the last 17 games of the match to humble Juan Monaco, while fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers could only claim a total of 5 games against Ferrer. Of the trio, Almagro had arguably the toughest match, but the twelfth seed put in a polished performance to take down the talented Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets.
Things looked ugly for Andy Murray in the gloomy conditions when he lost the first set easily to Richard Gasquet. But, in front of a hostile crowd, Murray dug in and improved his court movement as the match went on, eventually winning in 4 sets to book a date with Ferrer in the quarter-finals.
In matches carried over from Day 8, Juan Martin Del Potro broke to love in the final game of the fourth set to seal an impressive win over Czech Tomas Berdych, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga gained revenge for his loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in Paris last year, taking down his Swiss opponent in 5 sets.
Matches of the Day – Day 10
1. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Sam Stosur
Pocket rocket Dominika Cibulkova plays her best tennis against the best players on the WTA Tour, as she showed in sensationally knocking top seed Victoria Azarenka out of the tournament. Can she maintain that form against Sam Stosur?
Stosur has a game built for clay, and the Aussie will prefer this match-up, given that she never beaten Azarenka but did beat Cibulkova in their only match to date. Stosur had her first real test of the tournament against Sloane Stephens in the fourth round, and I think she will be much better for that hit-out. Stosur’s edge in this match is her serve, and if the Aussie can get her big kick serve going and hold serve consistently, then I think she will be too strong for Cibulkova.
2. Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
After a terrible day at the office against Andreas Seppi, when nothing really went right for the top seed and he was saved by his will to win and his big-match experience, expect Novak Djokovic to come out with vastly improved execution in this match. The Serb will treat the performance against Seppi as an aberration, but the world number one needs to correct his form in this clash.
When Tsonga dropped serve against Wawrinka yesterday to make it 4-all in the final set, I thought things were about to fall apart about for the Frenchman. But Tsonga bounced back to claim the next 2 games and the match. The popular Frenchman will have the crowd on his side, but I don’t think he has a realistic chance against Djokovic unless he steps into the court and tries to dominate the Serb, something he did to great effect in the early stages of the Wawrinka match. Djokovic in 4.
3. Sara Errani vs. Angelique Kerber
Sara Errani has had a breakout season, making the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and then accumulating 3 titles on clay. The Italian has continued her good form in this tournament, taking down a pair of former French Open champions in Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to the quarter-finals.
Angelique Kerber came out of nowhere to make US Open semi-finals last year, but since then has proven to be a consistently good player on the WTA Tour and has made it into the top 10 in the world. Kerber didn’t have a good record at Roland Garros before this year, but she beat Errani easily earlier this year and I expect the German to have too much raw power for Errani in this encounter. Kerber in 3.
4. Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin Del Potro
Juan Martin Del Potro has beaten Roger Federer only twice in 13 career meetings, but one of those wins did come in the 2009 US Open final. Earlier that season, Del Potro made it through to the French Open semi-finals, where he took Federer to 5 sets.
Since Del Potro’s return from a long injury lay-off, Federer has been able to beat Del Potro in all of their matches with relative ease, but the incredible power game Del Potro possesses means that the Argentine is always a dangerous opponent. Federer will look to nullify Del Potro’s serve and attempt to move the big Argentine around the court to set up the short ball. I’ll back Federer but I expect this to be a difficult assignment for the Swiss master. Federer in 4.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.