Top Players Roundup:
Blaz Kavcic presented no real threat to Novak Djokovic, even if the scoreline makes the last two sets look a bit close. Djokovic was in control of that match and didn’t need to be near perfect to win. Unlike last year, where he really came out sending a message to the field and slaughtering his opponents, Djokovic seems to be content to just do what it takes to win easily and move on to the next round. And, despite a shocking scoreline, Federer didn’t have too much trouble with Adrian Ungur either. Ungur played some great tennis for almost an hour and managed to take a set in a tiebreak, but couldn’t keep it up and really wasn’t a challenge for the majority of the rest of the match.
David Ferrer played a very solid match against Benoit Paire, winning easily after the Frenchman hit over 50 unforced errors. Ferrer played good, consistent, defensive tennis and the inability to hit past him finally beat Paire down. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a tricky match against German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Stebe came out slow but really started playing well into the second set, winning it and carrying some momentum into the third. Unfortunately for him, play was suspended overnight for rain and he just couldn’t keep any level of play into the second day, winning only a combined 3 games in the final 2 sets.
Andy Murray looked hurt and really played poorly until the painkillers he took during the first set kicked in. Niemenin really could have won that match with more intelligent play. It seemed like Niemenin was shocked he won the first set so easily and had no way at all to react when Murray started playing better. Still, I don’t like Murray’s chances here going forward. Nadal, on the other hand, demolished Denis Istomin. Istomin is a fairly good player, but Nadal absolutely tore him to shreds with his forehand. Nadal looks to be in very good form for now.
Who Looked Good:
1. Tomas Berdych- Berdych thrashed French vollyer Michael Llodra in another dominating performance. Llodra played some good, old-school tennis. He was just beaten off of the court by a far superior player. Berdych is once again sending a message, telling both himself and the field that he is here to win this tournament. His attitude reminds me a lot of Djokovic’s from last year, even if his level is not quite that high.
2. Marin Cilic- Cilic played very good tennis in his victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero on Wednesday. He is not quite at his level of early 2010, but he looks to be headed in that direction again. Cilic served well and just played huge shots throughout the match, really just dictating play and leaving a very good Ferrero helpless for most of the match. He honestly reminds me of how Robin Soderling was playing in reaching two finals here at Roland Garros. A third-round match against Juan Martin Del Potro here will give us a great insight into Cilic’s mindset and level of play.
Who Looked Bad:
1. Bernard Tomic- He was badly beaten by Santiago Giraldo. Tomic looked disinterested in the match and really just didn’t quite play his game. He kind of waited and didn’t adjust into an attacking mode, which he usually does at some point. He seemed much more interested in letting Giraldo just make mistakes, which Giraldo didn’t do. Now, clay is not really Tomic’s surface, but he should have been able to do better than a 3-set blowout loss here. This is a great opportunity for Giraldo though, especially with an injured Murray coming up in the third round.
2. Milos Raonic- No, he didn’t play badly. But very few players played much worse than expected in this round, so Raonic gets in here for his serving. If you are going to live by the serve, which Milos basically does, you need to serve much better. He only gave up 3 break point opportunities, but 54% first serves in and 8 double faults just won’t cut it for Raonic. That many second serves and he will be eaten alive by the better players later in this tournament.
3. John Isner- Isner finally met a player who could consistently get his biggest serves back in play. Paul-Henri Mathieu just kept making Isner play ball after ball and it finally got to him. Having the crowd behind Mathieu probably didn’t help, but Isner was very slow to make necessary adjustments to his game to beat Mathieu. In the end, taking it to a fifth set just wasn’t enough and the adjustments he made in the fourth couldn’t get him through to the finish line.
Match of the Round:
I thought about putting Baker/Simon in this slot, but come on. Who else can I put here? Fabio Fognini played great to take the first set over Viktor Troicki but then let his level fall off for a bit. After losing sets 2 and 3, The Fog came back to earn a break in the fifth. Fog matches need to be more epic than that, though, so he gave the break back and saved two match points while serving at 5-6 before winning the next three games to take the match. There were ridiculous shenanigans or weird things here. It was just great tennis from Fognini and some pretty high-level play from Troicki too. Fognini actually looks a bit dangerous moving forward, even against better players.
To be fair though, Isner/Mathieu deserves just as much, if not more, of a mention. Mathieu really rattled Isner by getting to his serve early and then fought to hold serve throughout the fifth set. This marathon had a lot more rallies than Isner/Mahut (makes perfect sense, being on clay), but in the end the more consistent player prevailed. Mathieu looked like he would have to rue his atrocious break point conversion ratio though and the three match points that he had in the 22nd game and the two more in the 30th game of the fifth set. However, he finally came through on his second match point in the 34th (it still sounds ridiculous) and won the fifth set 18-16.
What to Watch for in Round 3:
The second round may have had a bit of a weak lineup in terms of enticing matches, but the third round is chock full of them. In the top half of the draw, Seppi/Verdasco and Wawrinka/Simon are both matches between seeded players. Seppi and Verdasco both look to be playing very well at the moment and that could make for a great match. Wawrinka’s game has been disappointing recently, but Simon could be tired after a long five-setter against Baker and Wawrinka does have the game to make a great match of that if he can play well. And Fognini looks to be playing on a very high level and could really challenge Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who struggles on this surface and at this tournament in particular.
David Goffin will be playing for a spot in the Olympics against Lukasz Kubot. These two players should be fairly evenly matched and both are playing to achieve their best ever result here (Kubot also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year). And, if both are at their best, Cilic against Del Potro looks to be one heck of a match. They’re both playing similar, powerful games, and Cilic looks to be playing it better at the moment.
In the bottom half, Murray against Giraldo looks interesting if Murray can’t play better than he played for much of today. Giraldo can’t be counted on to play as poorly as Niemenin did with a lead. Monaco against Raonic looks interesting as both have been solid on clay this week. Monaco has looked better than Raonic in general this year, but this could be a very interesting match.
David Goffin needs just one more win here in his improbable run to qualify for the Olympics.
Adrian Ungur is right on that cut-off line and might get in depending on withdrawals and who plays Washington. Still, it’s possible that he won’t qualify as of now. Ungur is not signed up to play a Challenger next week so expect him to ask for a Wild Card somewhere if he is interested in playing in London (I’d guess he asks Furth but he would go wherever he could get one).
Jaziri’s second-round match will almost definitely not be finished tonight, but he will qualify for the Olympics if he completes his comeback over Marcel Granollers.
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