The men’s tournament has gone pretty much as expected, with a few minor blips here or there. The two notable non-chalk results are Richard Gasquet (instead of Andy Murray) and a bit of an upset with Juan Martin Del Potro beating Tomas Berdych in the fourth round. Berdych looked dominant early in the tournament, but it seems like he played too much and wore himself out a bit by the time he reached the fourth round.
Novak Djokovic vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Tsonga has done very well to reach this point. Clay is not a good surface for him at all and this is now his best result ever at Roland Garros. He has played his still, serving well and just hitting big and through the court. Still, he just doesn’t have the game on clay to challenge Djokovic, especially not at the level that Djokovic has shown for the past year-and-a-half now.
Djokovic, on the other hand, showed one of the best clay court levels that we have seen in a long time last year. He hasn’t quite managed to reproduce that this year though, not looking invincible against lower players and getting beaten both times he’s faced Nadal in clay finals. In fact, he nearly lost to Andreas Seppi in the fourth round here, having to come back from a 2 sets to 0 deficit. If Djokovic plays poorly and Tsonga can stay consistent, then maybe the Frenchman can make a match of this-especially if the French crowd managed to get to him. Still, I wouldn’t expect anything other than an easy victory for Djokovic here.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3
Roger Federer vs Juan Martin Del Potro
Del Potro was the player that Federer fans always loved to face. Federer won his first five matches against Del Potro without dropping a set. Then he got quite a scare in the 2009 French Open semifinal, where Del Potro took a 2-1 sets lead before Federer finally came back to win the match (and eventually the tournament). Then, Del Potro won a classic match in the US Open final that year and also beat Federer in the World Tour Finals. Since then, Del Potro missed a year due to injury and since his comeback has once again not taken a set off of Federer.
Federer has not looked great at all this tournament, dropping a set to each of Adrien Ungur, Nicolas Mahut, and David Goffin, none of who are in the top 80. Del Potro, meanwhile, seems to have a knee injury but has been quite impressive in almost all of his victories. His easy defeat of Marin Cilic is not something to be brushed off and he really didn’t even have a tough time with Tomas Berdych, who may have been a bit tired but was still playing good power tennis. Unless Del Potro’s knee is 100% by the start of their match, I really can’t see him troubling Federer too much, even if Fed isn’t playing great. He will have to win a lot of free points on his serve and just and just go for broke and try to hit the ball through Federer (like in the 2009 US Open final) if he wants to have a chance here.
Prediction: Federer in 4
Nicolas Almagro vs Rafael Nadal
We haven’t really mentioned him at all here, and maybe we’re being a bit unfair about that. Almagro has been nothing but solid throughout this entire tournament. He has not yet dropped a set, but more importantly has looked impressive in dispatching some potentially tricky opponents in straights. This has really been a very good tournament for a player who seems to underperform in Slams far too often.
Of course, Nadal has not yet dropped a set either and has only been broken once this entire tournament. Nadal has never lost to Almagro and has only dropped two sets in their 7 matches. The courts have been a bit slow and the balls heavy so far this tournament, which has given Nadal’s opponents more time that usual to set up their shots. Depending on the weather, this should benefit Almagro a bit, but he doesn’t have nearly enough power to take advantage of that and hurt Nadal by hitting through the court. This should be another routine win against a fellow countryman for Nadal on clay.
Prediction: Nadal in 3
David Ferrer vs ANdy Murray
Ferrer has been absolutely lethal all tournament. I don’t think this has been said enough. Somehow, no one is really talking about him, probably because he can never seem to take out the top players when it comes deep in Slams (or any other tournaments, really). Ferrer has gotten to the top 10 and stayed there-and even reached the top 5 for a while-by being the most consistent player on tour, rarely losing matches in early rounds of tournaments.
This tournament, however, Ferrer has shown us something different. He has slaughtered opponent after opponent. None of them were top players, but Marcos Maghdatis and Marcel Granollers are not pushovers when they play their best. Ferrer beat the two of them in straight sets, dropping a combined 9 games. He has lost 25 games in the twelve sets he has played so far here. Those are ridiculous, Nadal-like numbers. He is playing his best tennis at the right time and looks ready to set up a semifinal showdown with Nadal.
Murray seems to be slightly injured and has started very slowly in his past few matches, but he has finished well against his opponents. By the third set, he was playing his style and by the fourth was dominating Gasquet in a fashion much more brutal than even the 6-1 scoreline shows. Still, Ferrer will be happy to trade long rallies with Murray and run down lots of shots. Murray also hasn’t played anyone playing at this level in quite a while. If Murray wants to reach his sixth straight Slam semifinal, he can’t afford to start out slowly again.
Prediction: Ferrer in 4
For my women’s quarterfinal preview, please click here.
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