By Matthew Marolf
On the men’s side, we have the top five players in the world, three of whom are legends named Roger, Rafa, and Novak. And the other two were the finalists here just last year. Joining them in the quarterfinals are a three-time Major champion, the 2014 US Open champion, and a 20-year-old who seems primed for future greatness.
In the women’s semi-finals, we have the reigning French Open champion, last year’s French Open finalist, last year’s Madrid finalist, and a 22-year-old who just yesterday defeated the world No.1 for the second time in two months. The following is a look at how the day will play out, in order of scheduled start time.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Marin Cilic (9)
While Djokovic hasn’t been at his best of late, he owns a decisive 16-2 edge over Cilic. Marin’s only victories have come on an indoor hard court, and on grass. And considering Cilic came into this event with a losing record on the year, this should be smooth sailing for the world No.1.
Simona Halep (3) vs. Belinda Bencic
As per WTA Insider, Bencic is now 5-0 against top five opposition this year. That now includes two wins at the expense of Naomi Osaka, plus victories over Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova, and Halep herself. The Halep upset took place on a hard court in Dubai. Belinda is 2-1 against Halep, though they’ve never met on clay, with should favour Simona.
Bencic is finally back to top form after several years of battling injuries. The 22-year-old will return to the top 15 on Monday, while Halep is just two wins away from reclaiming the world’s top ranking. It will be difficult for Bencic to back up yesterday’s big win, which went all the way to 7-5 in the third. And Halep has taking care of business easily this week, having yet to drop a set.
Roger Federer (4) vs. Dominic Thiem (5)
This is a rematch of the Indian Wells final from earlier this year. As per the ATP, Thiem is one of only a handful of players to have played Federer at least five times and have a winning record. Their only previous meeting on clay was actually Roger’s last clay tournament, the 2016 Italian Open. Thiem won that day in straight sets. Dominic should be considered the favourite today in Roger’s first clay event in three years, and only a day removed from Federer’s dramatic match from yesterday with Gael Monfils.
Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (8)
This will be the only singles match of the day played on Arantxa Sanchez. These two youngsters have split their previous two matches, both competed on hard courts last summer. Zverev won this event a year ago, but only has 15 wins so far this year, with no titles. Tsitsipas has won six matches in just the last nine days, having won the first clay title of his career last week in Estoril. Stefanos’ current level of confidence makes him the favourite here.
Kiki Bertens (7) vs. Sloane Stephens (8)
Bertens has been the most consistent clay court player on the WTA tour over the past several seasons. Since 2016, she’s accumulated 70 match wins on this surface. And just yesterday, she took out the No.2 seed, Petra Kvitova. Stephens is 2-0 against Bertens, though both their matches have gone the distance.
Sloane is newly-engaged and working with a new coach, Sven Groeneveld. This has been her best week of 2019: her four match wins this week are the most she’s garnered at any event this year. But Bertens is a force on this surface, and will likely return to the final here for the second straight year.
Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Stan Wawrinka
The day will conclude with a rematch of the 2017 Roland Garros final. Nadal won easily on that day, and has prevailed over Wawrinka in 17 of their 20 matches. One of Stan’s victories did come on clay, at the 2015 Italian Open.
And he looked impressive in dispatching of Kei Nishikori on Thursday. However, with the illness concerns that surrounded Nadal earlier this week seemingly behind him, Rafa is the clear favourite to reach his 11th semi-final in his nation’s capital.
Roland Garros: Novak Djokovic Dealt Thiem Challenge As Nadal Starts Against Qualifier
Novak Djokovic has been set a trickier draw than Rafael Nadal as they look to meet each other in this year’s final.
Novak Djokovic could face last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals at Roland Garros as Rafael Nadal begins against a couple of qualifiers.
This year’s draw is set to be the most competitive in a while on the men’s side as there has been a lack of dominance from Rafael Nadal in the lead up, having only won Rome.
Despite this, the Spaniard is will still be favourite to win his 12th title in Paris after what looks to be a fairly routine draw.
Meanwhile Novak Djokovic will be looking to hold all four grand slams at the same time for the second time in his career as he looks for a second Roland Garros title.
However standing in his way will be the likes of Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev and more notably last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem.
So with that being said, lets look at the men’s draw in closer detail:
1st Quarter – Djokovic’s Section
World number one Novak Djokovic will start his bid for a second Roland Garros title against Polish rising star Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole made his first Masters 100 quarter-final in Indian Wells and made his breakthrough in Paris last year, so this will be no easy for the Serb.
A match against Sam Querrey could then await in round two, with Gilles Simon being the projected round three. There is also the likelihood of playing Borna Coric in the second week, who will begin against Aljaz Bedene.
In the bottom half of this quarter, out-of-form Alexander Zverev will face John Millman in the first round, with Monte-Carlo runner-up Dusan Lajovic in round three. However a major roadblock could await the German in the last 16 as Fabio Fognini is in his section of the draw. The Italian will play compatriot Andreas Seppi in round one.
Shapovalov v Struff
Fognini v Seppi
Johnson v Bautista Agut
Second Quarter – Thiem’s Section.
Last year’s finalist, Dominic Thiem starts his bid for a first grand slam title against American wildcard Tommy Paul, with a potential round three meeting against Kyle Edmund.
The Brit will begin his campaign against Jeremy Chardy in a tough first match. Thiem’s potential quarter-final is Juan Martin Del Potro, who begins against powerful Chilean Nicolas Jarry. Talented Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime also appears in this quarter and is a potential third round for the powerful Argentinian.
Other potential seeds for Del Potro include Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille, while Gael Monfils is a dangerous floater in Thiem’s section.
Chardy v Edmund
Verdasco v Evans
Jarry v Del Potro
Third Quarter – Federer’s Section
Roger Federer’s return to Roland Garros will begin against natural clay-courter Lorenzo Sonego. A third round match against in-form Matteo Berrettini could also await the 20 time grand slam champion, while Marco Cecchinato and Diego Schwartzman also lurk in Federer’s part of this quarter.
The Swiss’ potential quarter-final is Stefanos Tsitsipas, who starts against Maximillian Marterer. There is also a potential fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka or Marin Cilic for the Madrid finalist.
Opelka v Garin
Tipsarevic v Dimitrov
Fucsovics v Schwartzman
Fourth Quarter – Nadal’s Section
Defending champion Rafael Nadal is looking for a remarkable 12th title in Paris and will begin against two qualifiers. A great draw gets better for the Spaniard, who will play David Goffin in his third round and also has Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last 16, a man he beat in Rome last week.
In the other section of this draw, Daniil Medvedev will look to take charge when he plays Pierre-Hughes Herbert in the first round. While Kei Nishikori is a potential fourth round match as he starts against French wildcard Quentin Halys.
Tsonga v Gojowczyk
Humbert v Popyrin
Herbert v Medvedev
Here is the full draw, with play starting on Sunday:
Roland Garros Men’s full draw pic.twitter.com/W4bd5rMnEk
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) May 23, 2019
Albert Ramos-Vinolas Reveals Best Moment Of Career Ahead Of Geneva Quarters
Albert Ramos-Vinolas reveals the best moment of his career ahead of his Quarter-Final at the Geneva Open.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas has revealed the best moment of his career ahead of his Geneva quarter-final with Federico Delbonis.
The Spaniard seems to have overcome a poor run of form lately after qualifying for Rome last week, he has now won back-to-back matches in Geneva.
A 6-0 6-3 win over Joao Sousa means he is into the last eight in Geneva to play Federico Delbonis as he looks to build momentum towards Roland Garros.
However before his quarter-final match, Ramos-Vinolas told atptour.com in a recent interview what the best moment of his career was, “The first time I won an ATP match in Barcelona in 2010,” The Spaniard said.
“It’s my home tournament… I passed the qualies and I won my first match and then I beat Fernando Gonzalez, who was No. 12 in the world. I was No. 161. It was maybe one of the best moments of my career. It was on Court 1, which is not the centre court, but it’s quite big.
“I still remember the feeling: I was really happy. Everybody was thinking that it was not possible. So they were supporting me like crazy, like when a big football team is playing against maybe one from the second division, and the second division team wins. Everyone was supporting me like crazy. It was a great atmosphere.”
It is no surprise that the moment came in front of his home fans as it is a moment that he will never forget. Since then the Spaniard’s biggest achievement came in 2017 when he reached his first masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo.
The 31 year-old will look to recreate his form in Monte-Carlo a couple of years ago to Geneva this week as he looks to win his second career title.
However it won’t be easy for Ramos-Vinolas as top seed Alexander Zverev still remains the draw as players look to gain some momentum heading into Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday.
Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003
It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.
Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.
The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.
“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.
The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.
It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.
Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.
As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.
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