Top Players Roundup:
Federer struggled a bit against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in a bit of an atypical match for him. Federer had trouble getting into the Mahut service games, which led to the sets being close. That, coupled with a few poor service games of his own sprinkled throughout the match, didn’t come too far from spelling disaster for Federer. Fed came through without too much of a scare in the end, but he won’t be able to afford those lapses against top players. Dokovic, on the other hand, had no trouble whatsoever in dismissing Devilder, even though he did not have much time in which to complete the match. It was a sheer domination of an obviously outclassed opponent. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did very well to get by a good clay-courter in three sets. Tsonga kept the sets close and stayed on the attack, and Fognini eventually folded somewhere in the tail end of each one.
Nadal was lethal in his obliteration of Eduardo Shwenk. And, similarly, David Ferrer was more than just impressive with his destruction of Mikhail Youzhny. Youzhny is not great on clay but is a very good player, and Ferrer put him in the position where he only won 4 games in a 3-set match. That was lethal, it was brutal, and it should put a scare in everyone that Ferrer will face the rest of this tournament. There was not much noteworthy about Murray’s match against Santiago Giraldo, which in Murray’s case this tournament is a good thing. Murray played well, didn’t overextend himself too much, and won easily.
Who Looked Good:
1. David Goffin- No, he did not look good in the sense that he looks like he can challenge the top players. But he deserves a serious mention here. Goffin is an up-and-coming youngster who spends almost all of his time on the Challenger tour. He lost in the third qualifying round here but got into the main draw as a lucky loser. And he has taken serious advantage of that opportunity. He has reached the fourth round, making some amazing shots while beating Lukasz Kubot in straight sets, and has earned himself a spot in this year’s Olympic games.
2. Andreas Seppi- Seppi has really picked up his game these past few months and deserves a mention here. He will probably get slaughtered by Djokovic (see what happened when he met Federer in Rome), but that should do nothing to detract from his great overall clay season, his great run here, and the grit and tough tennis that he showed in his five-set win over Fernando Verdasco here.
3. Richard Gasquet- Gasquet played one of the most incredible matches we’ve seen in quite a while. A scoreline that one-sided doesn’t happen unless his opponent gets tired, but it wouldn’t have been much better regardless. Gasquet flipped a switch in the second set and was just absolutely on fire from then on. His match against Murray this next round just became a whole lot more interesting.
Who Looked Bad:
1. Stanislas Wawrinka and Gilles Simon- That was just an ugly, ugly match. It involved lots of defensive shots (even when there were easily open areas to attack) bad errors, and poor decision-making. Simon is generally a good counter-puncher, but he just refused to punch back at all this match. He was content to just wait out errors and the errors that came, from both him and Wawrinka, were sometimes just brutal to watch. I don’t mind Simon’s style. I honestly don’t. A player should do whatever he needs to to win matches. But this was beyond ugly, even by his standards.
2. Tomas Berdych- Don’t get me wrong, Berdych played a pretty high-quality match. He was playing an inspired opponent who is tough to beat on a normal day and who has a massive serve that is hard to break. But based on what he showed in the first few rounds, Berdych should have done better. He would probably have lost this match had Anderson not gotten tired as the match went on. If Berdych wants to consistently play at the caliber of players like Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, then he can’t have matches like this where he is off even just a little bit. And he has to face Del Potro next, who is basically a better version of Anderson (though Delpo does have some health concerns).
3. Marin Cilic- Del Potro played a very good match, even if he was slightly injured just a round ago, but Cilic should have done better. He showed us a level in the first two rounds that was higher than what he showed against Del Potro. Yes, it was a tougher opponent here, but Cilic could have made it much more competitive, especially if he had played better on the key points.
Match of the Round:
There were no amazing instant classics, but Berdych against Anderson was quite a good match. Berdych played well but Anderson stayed close behind his massive serve and manage to win sets 2 and 3. He couldn’t keep it up for the last two though, as Berdych was very consistent and Anderson was getting tired. Still, it was a very good showing from Anderson, who we should watch out for in the future, and hopefully it will push Berdych to work harder as he goes deeper in this tournament.
What to Watch for in Round 4:
Tomas Berdych will meet Juan Martin Del Potro in a rematch of what was one of the best displays of power tennis we have seen in a long time when they played a month ago in the Madrid semifinals. This court is a bit slower and bounces higher, but expect a good match. Wawrinka will play Tsonga, who is still struggling but has never played this well on clay before in his career. Another win here could be great for Jo-Willie moving forward. It won’t be easy though as Wawrinka is a tough opponent when he plays his best.
It will be interesting to see if this new form of Juan Monaco has any challenge for Nadal, but he probably won’t. However, Murray against Gasquet is a mouth-watering match on the bottom half of the draw. The two have played some epics in the past, and if Gasquet can reproduce the form of his last few rounds against Haas today, this one could be a great one as well. Gasquet has never beaten Murray in a Grand Slam, but with his great form and Murray slightly injured, this could very well be his time.
As the week draws to an end, either Grigor Dimitrov or Malik Jaziri currently holds on to the last spot for the Olympics (it’s hard to know which players who didn’t play Davis Cup were available or not and therefore it’s not possible to know if every player ranked high enough met the eligibility rules). Matthew Ebden (will play Nottingham Challenger this week), Fillipo Volandri (Prostejov), Dmitry Tursunov (Nottingham), Xavier Malisse (Prostejov), and Paolo Lorezni (Caltanissetta) are the next highest-ranked players who will be playing Challengers this coming week before the Olympic cut-off is determined. Now, it may be that several players who qualify for the Olympics will choose to play Washington instead, so a few more players may get in. But this is what we know as of now. We will give an Olympics update at the conclusion of each round of the French Open as these Challenger events progress.
David Goffin has earned himself a spot in the Olympics with his win in the third round here at Roland Garros.
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