Roland Garros 2019 Day 7 Preview: Serena, Zverev and Thiem Take Center Stage

published: Jun, 01, 2019

by: Ben Stevens

Four hundred grand slam matches, and still finding new ways to astonish. Such was the case for Roger Federer at Roland Garros on Friday.

A man so old in tennis terms he is playing the children of his contemporaries, the fact that Federer can still go out and carve-up sprightly 20-year-olds like Casper Ruud is beyond a joke.

Whether he wins the whole thing, or falls in the next round, it’s been a treat to see the Swiss Maestro back in Paris – enjoy it while you can, because we’re never going to see his like again.

Here’s your three-to-see on day 7 in Paris:

Dusan Lajovic (SRB) [30] v Alexander Zverev (GER) [5] – First on Simonne Mathieu

A man who has routinely made the easy look difficult in recent times, it’s hard to discern whether Sascha Zverev is a legitimate contender or merely a pretender here in Paris, but this matchup against Dusan Lajovic should give us some answers. Their only previous encounter a 2-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 rollercoaster won by Zverev here a year ago, we already know Lajovic has the ability to trouble the German, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the 2019 Monte Carlo finalist offer a similar challenge this time around. With Lajovic likely to be content grinding out points and just exploiting angles where he gets them, the onus will be on Zverev to maintain pressure with consistent depth and close points quickly – if he struggles to do so, he’ll be in for a long afternoon, but if he comes through convincingly, it might be just the boost his major hopes need.

Dominic Thiem (AUT) [4] v Pablo Cuevas (URU) – Third on Suzanne Lenglen

Enduring a slightly bumpy start to his RG 19 campaign, Dominic Thiem is yet to show quite the same form that made him a finalist here last year, and if he wants to make a repeat showing, he’s going to need to step things up against the tricky Pablo Cuevas. A player who couldn’t be more at home on the clay if he slept on it, Cuevas has provided stiff opposition for Thiem in the past, including wins at RG 2015 and IW 2018, and a narrow loss this year in Buenos Aires, so it wouldn’t be a shock for him to do so again here. With that in mind, Thiem should be careful not to get stuck five metres behind the baseline (a game Cuevas likes to play also) and instead look to attack the Uruguayan’s weaker forehand wherever possible while staying on the lookout for sharp angles. Otherwise, if the Austrian doesn’t bring the offense, Cuevas will be happy to grind things out, and even in a win that’s not the sort of lengthy match Thiem needs right now.

Serena Williams (USA) [10] v Sofia Kenin (USA) – Fifth on Philippe Chatrier

Still looking for her first major title since maternity leave, Serena Williams’ quest to change that record here in Paris has endured something of an unsteady start, and now in Sofia Kenin she gets a particularly interesting challenge. A 20-year-old who has steadily risen up the rankings in 2019, Kenin has already gained a reputation for fearlessness when facing-down elite players, and that should certainly serve her well here. A crafty player who likes to play against pace and make things awkward with touch and changes of direction, Kenin could have Serena playing a far more side-to-side game than she would prefer, which might force the latter into playing too big too early in points to find a rhythm. That said, the flip side is Serena does get her eye in, and starts burning holes in the court, but either way we should be provided with a very fun contest.

Ben Stevens

Contributor to TennisConnected. Long time player, coach and fan. Still waiting on Mark Philippoussis to break through at a major.

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