After an easy first round match, the going gets a lot tougher for Rafael Nadal in his round 2 clash today. The nine-time French Open champion plays compatriot Nicolas Almagro for a spot in the third round. Read on for my predictions for the all-Spanish encounter.
Day 4 Recap
Day 4 saw last year’s semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis and Italian seed Fabio Fognini knocked out of the tournament by Frenchmen, going down to Nicolas Mahut and Benoit Paire respectively. On a highly successful day for the host nation, there were also wins for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, who survived a 5-setter against the Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
Swiss seeds Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka moved through to round 3, whilst Tomas Berdych overcame Czech compatriot Radek Stepanek in 4 sets. Among the other seeds to progress on Day 4 was Kei Nishikori, who scored an impressive straight sets win over the in-form Brazilian Bellucci.
In the women’s tournament, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni proved that her 2014 US Open upset of Simona Halep was no fluke, knocking out last year’s French Open finalist in straight sets. Lucic-Baroni next faces Alize Cornet, another winner on Day 4. Defending champion Maria Sharapova moved through to the round of 32, where she will come up against former finalist Sam Stosur.
Other seeds to progress on Day 4 included Suarez Navarro, Kerber, Pennetta and Safarova, with seeds Ivanovic, Makarova and Svitolina scoring fighting 3-set wins to book their respective places in the round of 32.
Matches of the Day – Day 5
1. Nicolas Almagro vs. Rafael Nadal
A three-time quarter-finalist at Roland Garros and a former member of the world’s top 10, Nicolas Almagro is a mighty fine clay-courter and, whilst Almagro has only beaten Nadal once in their 13 career meetings, that win did come on clay, in Barcelona last year.
Almagro has struggled with injury in the last 18 months and, as a result, his ranking has plummeted to outside the world’s top 150. But there’s no doubting that his abilities, especially on clay, are far greater than his current ranking would suggest. However, whilst Nadal isn’t at his best right now, I still think he is far more match-fit than his countryman and will be too strong in this one. Nadal in 4.
2. Borna Coric vs. Tommy Robredo
The ultra-solid baseline game of young Croat Borna Coric has drawn comparisons with the game possessed by world number one Novak Djokovic and the teenager spent time with the Serb over the off-season, an experience which has no doubt helped him immensely this season.
Coric had a fine win over American Sam Querrey in round 1, but faces a more dangerous player on clay in round 2 in the form of Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo. The eighteenth seed and a former world number 5, Robredo has made the quarter-finals in Paris on no less than 5 occasions, and is the sort of player who will fight all day and run down every ball. He’s a bit slower now than he was in his prime, but is still a formidable opponent on the red dirt. Robredo in 4.
3. Thanasi Kokkinakis vs. Bernard Tomic
This all-Aussie clash is sure to be an entertaining duel, with the teenager Kokkinakis a recent entrant into the world’s top 100 and the winner of a Challenger event on clay in Bordeaux last week. Neither player performs at his best on clay, but there’s no doubt that this will be an eagerly-contested affair, especially since the likely prize for the winner is a high-profile clash with top seed Novak Djokovic.
Tomic has had a successful last 12 months after an injury riddled period before that, and is back amongst the seeds at this year’s French Open. Tomic has also won both of his previous matches against Kokkinakis this year. I’ll back Tomic to come out on top, despite being under the weather with a virus, but this one will be close. Tomic in 5.
4. Belinda Bencic vs. Madison Keys
I’m really looking forward to this match between two of the rising stars on the WTA Tour. Swiss teenager Bencic made it through to the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows last year, and her mature game has drawn inevitable comparisons with the game of her high-profile compatriot, Martina Hingis.
Keys is America’s next big hope on the women’s side, and a run to the semi-finals of this year’s Australian Open (which included a win over former world number one Venus Williams in the quarter-finals) fuelled hopes that she is the real deal. This is a classic contrast of styles, with Keys the big-hitting aggressor and Bencic the crafty counterpuncher. I’ll back Keys in a tight 3-setter, based on her form to date in 2015. Keys in 3.
5. Julia Goerges vs. Caroline Wozniacki
A year ago, Caroline Wozniacki was dealing with the heartache of her split with high-profile golfer Rory McIlroy and having to put up with the intense media scrutiny surrounding the pair and their break-up. Since then, Wozniacki’s game has certainly improved immensely (as has McIlroy’s), with the Dane climbing back into the world’s top 10 and making the final at the US Open last year.
Goerges is a dangerous player, with the German able to crank up the power on her groundstrokes and trouble the world’s best on her day. However, Wozniacki is by far the steadier player of the pair, and I think she will be too consistent for Goerges in this one. Wozniacki in 2.
Put your house on: Novak Djokovic. His opponent today, Gilles Muller, is no slouch but I can’t see him ending the top seed’s 23-match winning streak today.
Upset alert: As noted above, I think young Swiss player Belinda Bencic could cause some problems for Madison Keys today.
Likely to go the distance: Former French Open champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone lock horns today. I’ll back the Russian to come out on top in a tough 3-setter.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.