Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 11 of the 2021 French Open.
Things for Bianca Andreescu might be more dire than we anticipated.
We’re writing this a few hours after the Canadian made the announcement that she and head coach Sylvain Bruneau had mutually decided to end their partnership. You can read all about it here.
What’s behind this decision?
The 20-year-old took women’s tennis by storm in 2019, showcasing a great mix of verve, power and gamesmanship as she rose all the way to No. 4 in the world. Most importantly, she managed to capture the Indian Wells, Toronto and US Open titles.
She managed all this despite missing a few weeks and months during that breakout season in what’s become a microcosm of her career. When she’s been healthy, Andreescu has only rarely disappointed. But she’s also been only rarely healthy, playing as many tour matches as you and I during the 2020 season.
So far this year, her results have been a little uneven—though she did manage to make the Miami Open final…where she withdrew down 3-6 and 0-4.
But look, we’re not here to do Andreescu’s career retrospective or anything like that. In the end, the timing of this decision to move on from the Bruneau partnership is a bit surprising. After a lost 2020 season, she would have been forgiven to run things back for 2021 again and see what might come of it.
In a way, that’s pretty much what she did—and she must not have liked what she saw so she decided to be proactive about it. There’s value in that.
Day 11 preview
Just like we did yesterday for the first four singles quarterfinals, we’ll use this space today to give a few thoughts and predictions on how the matches might unfold. You can always find the entire day 11 schedule here.
Court Philippe-Chatrier: Barbora Krejcikova vs Coco Gauff  (First match of the day)
Coco Gauff has used this latest French Open as a way to make her case for being the future of tennis. The 17-year-old is currently in the midst of the best stretch of her young career and it’s a revelation that it’s happened here at this tournament: her game isn’t necessarily built to fit clay. She’s now in the quarterfinals of a major for the first time and gets an opponent well within her grasp. Sure, Barbora Krejcikova has excelled but she’s also not, say, Ashleigh Barty. Let’s give Gauff the edge in two sets.
Court Philippe-Chatrier: Maria Sakkari  vs Iga Swiatek  (Second match of the day)
Though Maria Sakkari has come out of nowhere to emerge unscathed and reach the quarterfinals, all eyes will be on Iga Swiatek. The Roland-Garros defending champion has now played 11 matches at the event and won each of them in straight sets. It would be remarkable for anyone to do this, but it’s even more telling that it’s a 20-year-old. Swiatek will eventually lose a set, even a match, at Roland-Garros but that doesn’t mean it has to start now. Swiatek gets the win in two sets.
Court Philippe-Chatrier: Diego Schwartzman  vs Rafael Nadal  (Third match of the day)
Can Diego Schwartzman actually do it this time? His rivalry with Rafael Nadal, at 1-10 overall, has been woefully lopsided toward the Spaniard, but the Argentine is in as good a position as ever. He’s peaking at the right time and, if nothing else, we should see a more competitive match than for last year’s Roland-Garros semifinal. That said, there’s a massive step (or three) between last year’s straight sets affair and a win against Nadal. The Spaniard gets the win in four sets.
Court Philippe-Chatrier: Matteo Berrettini  vs Novak Djokovic  (Not before 8pm local time)
Will the same folks who were giving Roger Federer flak for withdrawing after his fourth round win show Lorenzo Musetti the same vitriol? The Italian was up 7-6(7), 7-6(2) against Novak Djokovic in their fourth round match, but completely unraveled before forfeiting the match. By then, the score of the following three sets was 6-1, 6-0 and 4-0 for the Serb and the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Anyway, Djokovic is in the quarterfinals and facing a tricky Matteo Berrettini. He’ll be fine and get the win in four sets.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG