Quarterfinals are Set as the French Open Moves Into Its Business End
Men’s QFs set:
Murray vs Nishikori
Wawrinka vs Cilic
Carreño Busta vs Nadal
Thiem vs Djokovic
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 5, 2017
I’m done with exams in time to blog about the business end of the 2017 French Open which promises to be an exciting few days. For once, Murray and Wawrinka have come to play which adds to the intrigue.
Lendl joined Murray in Paris which must have had a positive effect because he has been playing more like a world number one for once. He defeated Del Potro in straight sets and today he defeated the promising youngster Khachanov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 5, 2017
He plays Nishikori next who defeated Verdasco 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 today. Quite a scoreline. It was a good comeback from Nishikori who will be a real test for Murray. But given the way Murray has been playing, he is probably the favorite.
That could give us a rematch of last year’s semi-final between Stan and Murray because Stan is the favorite over Cilic too. But let’s see what happens in the top half quarterfinals first which will be played on Wednesday.
The bottom half is where the likely 2017 French Open winner will come from because you have Nadal, Djokovic, and Thiem there. Nadal is still the favorite for the title as he has been all clay court season long probably.
But fortunately, Djokovic has done well enough for it not to be a foregone conclusion. He has blown some much-needed life into an otherwise very predictable and boring clay court season by gradually improving with every event he played despite having very little room to work with.
Then he also gained the services of tennis legend Andre Agassi after contacting him after he lost in Monte Carlo to thank him for his support in the media. Agassi came to Paris to work with Djokovic in the first week and had to leave after Djokovic’s third match due to a family trip that had been arranged beforehand.
But I think just the fact that the two got together already means an enormous amount to Djokovic. The problem for Djokovic has been mostly mental as it usually is with a confidence crises and Agassi’s presence and support will do a lot for Djokovic’s mental stability and confidence.
Djokovic plays Thiem tomorrow who he destroyed 6-1, 6-0 in Rome but on that occasion, Thiem had beaten Nadal in the previous round which would have taken a lot out of him while Djokovic was at his devastating best. This time Thiem will be better prepared while Djokovic will not want to peak again.
It is only the quarterfinal stage and Djokovic needs to leave some of his best form for Nadal especially. Fortunately for Djokovic, Thiem is a good matchup for him. More so than Goffin would have been.
He does not have to play at his peak level to still beat Thiem relatively comfortable. He beat Vinolas 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-3 who won the most clay court matches this season so he is in good form. He had that match against Schwartzman that went to five sets but played himself into form in the last couple of sets winning 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
That was his big test which he passed with flying colors in the end. The court time would have done him good too. But Thiem will be another test. He has probably been the second best clay courter this season behind Nadal and hasn’t dropped a set in Paris this year.
— RafaNadalFANS (@RafaNadalFANS) June 4, 2017
There is a wind of 25 km/h predicted for tomorrow and although Djokovic is not a great wind player I don’t think Thiem is either with his big swings. Djokovic needs to return well and play close to the baseline and Thiem will struggle with his big swings.
But that may be harder in windy conditions. Djokovic and Thiem will play on Lenglen like they did last year in the semi-finals when Djokovic won 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 but that was a masterclass from Djokovic and Thiem is more experienced now. I can see it going to four sets but Djokovic needs to put in a confident performance before facing Nadal too so I don’t think going to five sets will be helpful.
Preferably Djokovic needs to get it done in straight sets but I suppose going to four sets is ok too. All I know is he needs to be at peak level against Nadal and can’t be horsing around in a five setter against someone who he has historically owned. I hope the wind does not get in the way.
As for Nadal, he plays Busta who made his first slam quarterfinal after defeating Raonic 8-6 in the fifth set. Nadal has been untouchable so far and he is yet to show any signs at all of weakness. Busta has close to 0% chance of defeating Nadal but maybe he can at least make a set or two competitive.