New coach. New team. No matter. Try as he might, Novak Djokovic still can’t escape the hiccups.

Having seemed to try everything short of doing a headstand while humming the theme song to Welcome Back Kotter, Djokovic we saw on Friday in Paris was still unable to find his way off struggle street. Pushed to the brink by an particularly game Diego Schwartzman, the Serb vacillated between his usual dominance and the inconsistency that has crept into his game in the last 12 months. In the end it may have flown against Schwartzman, but it doesn’t bode well for his RG prospects. Can he turn it around? Maybe, but right now no one, not even Djokovic seems to know – we can only wait and hope for the best.

Here’s your three to see for day 7 at Roland Garros.

Andy Murray (GBR) [1] vs Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) [29] – 2nd on Philippe Chatrier

Arguably the biggest match of the tournament so far and with good reason, Murray and Del Potro like to trade sets like they’re fidget spinners. An interesting factor is the two haven’t played on clay this decade, and a lot has changed in the interim, from Del Potro’s health to Murray’s temperament – okay maybe that hasn’t changed, but still it’s been a long time. Their last encounter was an titanic five-setter in the 2016 Davis Cup semis, and a repeat here is certainly in play. Both men have to like their chances, but expect Del Potro’s forehand to be the deciding factor – if Murray can play away from it, he should survive, if not, there’ll be another shade of red on the Chatrier floor. In either case, expect multiple swaps in momentum, and one very exhausted victor.

Hyeon Chung (KOR) vs Kei Nishikori (JPN) [8] – 2nd on Court 1

Coming from a country known for its proliferation of clay courters, the 21-year-old Chung is the latest South Korean to find success on the di-… actually, he’s the first. One of the quickest movers around the court on tour, his legs carried him to a quarterfinal in Barcelona and a semi in Munich, on the back of which he’s enjoyed a solid start to his Roland Garros campaign. In Nishikori he faces another player who prides himself on court coverage, which should lead to plenty of entertaining scrambles with both players have a chance to show off their similarly delectable backhands. Of course, Nishikori’s game has far more polish at this point in their respective careers, nevertheless this has all the makings of a really fun encounter.

Simona Halep (ROU) [3] vs Daria Kasatkina (RUS) [26] – 2nd on Suzanne Lenglen

Looks can be deceiving. Take 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina for instance, she might have a face that suggests angelic innocence, but her game is built with the sole intention of breaking down her opponent’s will to live. Having already shown massive improvement this year with a title in Charleston, she now gets the chance to avenge a loss to Halep in Miami last year, where she was essentially outmuscled by the Romanian. This time around things should be very different, Kasatkina having added more variation and some serious weight to her forehand, meaning the onus is on Halep to find her defensive best in order to outlast the young Russian. An increasingly popular choice to take the title here this year, how Halep reacts to this test will speak volumes as to her candidacy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here