Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 10 of the 2021 French Open.

You probably didn’t catch the headline.

In a way, why would you have caught it? It’s a headline related to last year’s event, and for a doubles match no less. Why would you have paid it any mind? It’s a headline that broke right in the middle of French tennis falling on its face, just as Carla Suarez Navarro was coming back and on the tail end of the Naomi Osaka controversy.

Because nothing ever can unfold exactly as it should at the French Open, it appears that last year’s edition of the clay court Grand Slam might have been marred by light accusations… of match fixing? Oh god.

What’s the headline?

Last week, authorities in France arrested Russian player Yana Sikova over suspicions of match fixing at last year’s Roland-Garros. (If we want to be exact, Sikova was arrested for “sports bribery and organized fraud for acts likely to have been committed in September 2020” but we digress.)

For now, Sizikova, ranked No. 101 in the world in doubles, denies any wrongdoing. That’s about all the details we have for now unless we believe German newspaper Die Welt and French sports daily L’Equipe, which said last year that there might have been suspicions over a doubles match between Sizikova and partner Madison Brengle and the team of Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.

Again, this isn’t confirmed but in a way it would track. By and large, it seems that if tennis has a match-fixing problem it’s much more for the lesser and lower-level matches than the high-profile ones where the stakes are too high for everyone involved. If tennis has a match-fixing problem, it’s not with a Rafael Nadal/Novak Djokovic semifinal and more with, say, a Sizikova first round doubles match.

Maybe we’ll learn more in the days and weeks to come.

Day 10 preview

We’ll switch things up today for our day 10 preview now that we’ve reached the quarterfinals. Instead of highlighting three unique matches, we’ll give our thoughts and predictions on all singles matches of the day. Find the entire day 10 schedule right here.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Tamara Zidansek vs Paula Badosa [33] (First match of the day)

Paula Badosa has come out of relative nowhere and taken advantage of the gaping hole left by Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the event after the first round. Still, she is currently in the best stretch of her career and has definitely earned her quarterfinal berth. It’s her first time playing in the second week of any Grand Slam, which would put her at a disadvantage if her opponent wasn’t in the same exact situation. Let’s keep the good times rolling, Paula Badosa gets the win in three sets.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [31] vs Elena Rybakina [21] (Second match of the day)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has now somehow made 7 Grand Slam quarterfinals in her career, including twice at the French Open. If she can get the win here, she would be in unknown territory behind a career highlight. She’s facing 21-year-old Elena Rybakina, who’s yet to be truly tested here in Paris. The young Kazakh has won each match in straight sets and seems intent on reminding everyone that she’s just as much the face of the future of women’s tennis. Rybakina gets the win in straight sets.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs Alexander Zverev [6] (Not before 4pm local time)

Talk about a contrast between two quarterfinalists. Alexander Zverev just about crashed out of the French Open in the very first round before he righted the ship. He’s now up to 12 straight sets won and has played a rather uninspiring group of players. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, meanwhile, has endured a gruelling draw just to make it here in what’s a career-best result at a Grand Slam. Why stop here? Why not shock the world? Davidovich Fokina gets the win in five sets.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] vs Daniil Medvedev [2] (Not before 9pm local time)

Welcome to the day’s lone “normal” quarterfinal—but where’s the fun in the normal and expected? This match, between the last section’s two favourites on the men’s side is fascinating because it pits two players who 1) are currently playing as well as anyone and 2) don’t like each other much. For what it’s worth, Stefanos Tsitsipas has the clear advantage on clay, a surface that Daniil Medvedev hates, but the Russian has a clear edge in head-to-head matches. Let’s give Medvedev the win in four sets.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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