Day 9 in Paris saw women’s big names Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova bow out of the tournament, whilst male superstars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal set up a blockbuster quarter-final by claiming fourth round wins.
Day 9 Recap
Defending champion Sharapova has been suffering from a head cold all tournament and, whilst the Russian had bravely fought through her first 3 matches, things came unstuck in the round of 16 against Lucie Safarova. The Czech leftie pinched a tight first set before going on to claim a fine straight sets victory over the second seed.
Kvitova’s erratic form in Grand Slams continued, with the fourth seed going down to Swiss twenty-third seed Bacsinszky in a tough 3-setter. In other women’s action on Day 9, Spanish seed Garbine Muguruza overcame Flavia Pennetta, whilst top seed Serena Williams came back from a set down for the third consecutive match, this time against fellow American Sloane Stephens.
Former finalist Sara Errani is through to the quarter-finals after defeating German Julia Goerges, whilst unheralded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck is into her first major quarter-final after accounting for Romanian Andreea Mitu.
Among the men, top seed Novak Djokovic was barely troubled by Frenchman Richard Gasquet, dropping just 6 games for the match. Nadal looked on course for a similar victory against Jack Sock, but was forced to 4 sets after experiencing a third set lapse. Andy Murray was another winner in 4 sets, proving too strong for Jeremy Chardy, whilst Roger Federer completed a 4 set win over Gael Monfils, winning the last 2 sets of the match on Monday as Monfils struggled with a flu. Federer faces compatriot Wawrinka today, and Murray next plays David Ferrer, who defeated reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic in straight sets.
Matches of the Day – Day 10
1. Ana Ivanovic vs. Elina Svitolina
Twenty year old Elina Svitolina is a rising star on the WTA Tour and the Ukrainian has done tremendously well to make it through to the quarter-finals of the tournament. Unfortunately for her, she has a terrible record against Ivanovic, having claimed just one set in 6 matches against the former world number one.
I have no doubt that Svitolina will continue to improve as a player and will challenge Ivanovic more and more going forward, but at this point in time the Serb has much more experience. Ivanovic claimed a relatively routine win over Svitolina in Madrid a few weeks ago and, whilst I think this encounter will be much closer, I’ll back Ivanovic to ultimately prevail. Ivanovic in 3.
2. Kei Nishikori vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
One never knows what to expect when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes to the court. The Frenchman’s form in 2015 has been patchy, but he has performed magnificently in Paris to date to well and truly earn his spot in the quarter-finals. Although Berdych showed some signs of lower back pain in their round of 16 match, full credit must go to Tsonga for completing the win.
As he showed in Canada last year, when he beat a handful of seeds to claim the Masters title in Toronto, Tsonga can beat anyone on his day, but defeating Nishikori on clay represents a very tricky proposition. Nishikori has won 4 of 5 career meetings with Tsonga and, whilst this is their first match on clay, I think the red dirt will favour the Japanese player far more than the Frenchman. Nishikori has the form and the stamina to get the job done today. Nishikori in 5.
3. Garbine Muguruza vs. Lucie Safarova
Safarova will enter the world’s top 10 next Monday, a just reward for the big strides forward that the Czech player has taken in the last few years. Safarova has backed up her run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year by making the quarter-finals in Paris, which is a testament to her versatility across different surfaces.
Muguruza is a star in the making and I think the 21 year old will be a huge threat at Roland Garros for many years to come. If the Spaniard can focus on her game, and not let the pressure of the situation get to her, then I think she has the better game on clay. That said, Safarova is a fighter and the leftie will scrap for every point. Muguruza in 3.
4. Stan Wawrinka vs. Roger Federer
The good news for Swiss tennis fans is that Switzerland is guaranteed to have one man in the semi-finals. Federer has a commanding overall record against his countryman, having beaten Wawrinka in 16 of their 18 career meetings. Wawrinka did upset Federer on clay in the Monte Carlo final last year, but the second seed has won all 3 of their clashes since then (including a fiery clash at the World Tour Finals late last year).
Wawrinka beat Federer in Monte Carlo last year by staying on the aggressive and simply overpowering his more illustrious compatriot from the back of the court. That is what Wawrinka needs to do again today. If the rallies go for more than 4 or 5 shots, then the eighth seed will lose the majority of them.
If Wawrinka is on song then he is capable of scoring the upset, but it is incredibly difficult to maintain the requisite high standard of play in a best of 5 sets match against Federer. I think Wawrinka’s level of play will fluctuate over the course of the match, while Federer’s remains relatively steady. For this reason, I’ll take Federer to come through a tight 4-setter. Federer in 4.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow all of action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.