All was in order on Day 5 at Roland Garros. There were hardy any upsets as the top seeds forged through to the third round. The match of the day was easily the Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Maros Baghdatis five set thriller. Down two sets, the crowd lifted the Frenchman’s spirits and willed him to battle past Baghdatis to take the last three sets. And looking ahead to Day 6, the battles are far from over.

Richard Gasquet [9] vs Nick Kyrgios [17]

The last time Richard Gasquet and Nick Kyrgios faced off on a grand slam stage, it was fireworks. There was racquet smashing, swearing, hugging, and heavy fines for both players. According to Nick, some of his favourite matches have been against Gasquet. Their last two grand slam encounters, both at Wimbledon, were blockbusters. Nick prevailed the first year, saving an astonishing 9 match points. When he lost both the match and his cool the following year, he was accused of “tanking” the game.

Nick’s explosive style of play makes him one of the most exciting players to watch. The talented Australian blazes off all wings- firing forehands fires and blasting backhands. However, against a player as consistent as Gasquet, Nick’s greatest challenge will be his focus and concentration.

Meanwhile Gasquet will have to ramp up his aggression, particularly to close out against Kyrgios. He has one of the most admired backhands in tennis, and will use this weapon to produce winners and draw errors of the Kyrgios racquet. Moving Nick around the court with savvy net play could also be an effective strategy.
If Nick is wise with his shot selection, he could upset the Frenchman. But with the home crowd behind their countryman, Gasquet may channel that energy to sail over the finish line. Regardless, it will be a memorable match of elegance versus showmanship.

David Ferrer [11] vs Feliciano Lopez [21]

David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez have something in common. Both Spaniards have appeared in over 50 consecutive grand slams. Along with Roger Federer, these three have played the most consecutive grand slams among all active players on tour.

Ferrer is arguably the best active player on tour who has never won a grand slam. Winning over 300 matches on clay, he is second only to Rafa Nadal. Though he grew up on clay courts, he admitted a recent preference for hard courts, particularly as he gets older and looks to shorten the points.

The tenacious counter-puncher will attack Lopez’s backhand slice, while agile Lopez will use the net to his advantage. Lopez, known for his superb grass court game, could likely also serve and volley. He will pummel down his big serve, but Ferrer being one of the best returners will put the ball back in play. Both players are extremely fit and will endeavor to move each other around the court. This could easily be a 5-setter!

Simone Halep [6] vs Naomi Osaka

Unseeded Naomi Osaka is the centre of much chatter as she seems poised to be the next rising tennis star. This is the second successive grand slam appearance where the Japanese has made the third round, having reached the same level at this year’s Australian open. With a big serve and lethal forehand, her aggressive play could possibly rattle Simona Halep.
However, defeating Halep will be no easy feat as the Romanian is one of the best movers on court, with the ability to hit winners from defensive positions. She is compact, quick, tactical, and surprisingly powerful. The world number five is expected to win this match, but if Osaka continues on her current high level of play, it could be competitive. This first head to head could either prove a learning experience for the teenager or produce an exciting upset.


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