Madrid Open Daily Preview: Former Champions Rafael Nadal and Sascha Zverev Meet in the Quarterfinals
The King of Clay is a five-time Madrid Open champion, though he hasn’t won this event since 2017. Sascha Zverev is actually a more recent champion, as he raised the winner’s trophy in 2018. And while Nadal leads their head-to-head 5-2, Zverev has claimed their last two encounters.
Dominic Thiem lost to Nadal and Zverev in those 2017 and 2018 Madrid finals. He’s still looking for his first title at this event. On Friday, Thiem faces John Isner, who has consecutively taken out two top 10 seeds in third-set tiebreaks. Another men’s quarterfinal features two seeded players who recently won titles on clay. The other quarterfinal sees a player whose only Masters-level wins have come on this surface, against a man who had never won a Masters match on clay prior to this event.
The women’s singles finalists, Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka, have the day off ahead of Saturday’s championship match. Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have already advanced to the women’s doubles final, and their opponents will be determined on Friday. In addition, all four men’s doubles quarterfinals will be contested.
Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the two most prominent matches of the day, and note the other intriguing matchups on the schedule. Friday’s play will begin at 1:00pm local time.
Dominic Thiem (3) vs. John Isner – 1:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium
Thiem has been thought of as a great clay court player throughout his career, yet his two biggest titles have come on hard courts: Indian Wells in 2019, and last year’s US Open. He’s yet to win a Major or a Masters event on this surface, though he’s a two-time runner-up at both this event and Roland Garros. Isner’s best results have also come on hard courts, as he won the Masters event in Miami three years ago, and reached the semifinals of Wimbledon that same year. But the 36-year-old American has now reached the quarterfinals in his last three appearances in Madrid, and achieved a semifinal in Rome four years ago, so he’s far from a slouch on clay.
They have split two previous meetings, both of which took place in 2015. Their clay court match went to Thiem in straight sets. The Austrian is yet to drop a set this week, while as mentioned earlier, Isner is coming off back-to-back grueling contests decided by a final set tiebreak. Big-serving Isner enjoys playing in the high altitude of Madrid, but Thiem will definitely be the fresher man, and is the better player on this surface.
Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Sascha Zverev (5) – Not Before 3:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium
While Zverev won their last two matches in straights sets, they both occurred on indoor hard courts, which is not where Nadal excels. The three times they’ve met on clay, Rafa has been victorious, winning seven of eight sets played. Nadal had advanced quite easily so far this week, though he’s faced a wild card and a qualifier.
Zverev has been battling an elbow issue in recent weeks, but he’s also yet to drop a set at this event, with solid wins over Kei Nishikori and Dan Evans. If Sascha can tally a high number of aces, and minimize his double faults, he’s fully capable of upsetting the Spanish No.1. However, since finding his form two weeks ago in Barcelona, Nadal has looked much more comfortable on his favorite surface. If Rafa advances, he may find Dominic Thiem waiting for him, which would be a blockbuster semifinal.
Other Notable Matches on Friday:
Matteo Berrettini (8) vs. Cristian Garin (16) – Berrettini won on clay two weeks in Belgrade, while Garin won two months ago in Santiago. Like Thiem and Isner, they’ve split their two prior matches, with the clay clash going to Garin.
Casper Ruud vs. Alexander Bublik – Ruud upset Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday, and is vying for his third consecutive Masters 1000 semifinal on clay. Bublik has earned impressive victories this week over Denis Shapovalov and Aslan Karatsev. Their only previous matchup came two years ago on a hard court in St. Petersburg, with Ruud winning in three sets.
Gabriela Dabrowski and Demi Schuurs (3) vs. Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – Dabrowski and Schuurs are looking to make the final in their first tournament as a team. Pavlyuchenkova was also a semifinalist in singles, losing to Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday.
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot (7) – Mektic and Pavic are a sensational 30-3 as a team this season, with five titles in eight events. Koolhof and Kubot are just 8-7 during the same span.
Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (3) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (6) – When these teams met in Acapulco earlier this year, Granollers and Zeballos prevailed in straight sets.
Friday’s full Order of Play is here.
Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Excited’ To Break More Records After Sealing 20th Roland Garros Win
Stefanos Tsitsipas is ‘excited’ to break more records after securing his 20th Roland Garros victory.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is ‘excited’ to break more records as he claimed a 20th victory at Roland Garros.
The Greek progressed to the third round of Roland Garros with a straight sets win over Roberto Carballes Baena.
Tsitsipas’ win was the 51st of his Grand Slam career as well as the 20th victory that he secured at Roland Garros.
Speaking after the win Tsitsipas spoke about the satisfaction he gets when he breaks records, “I am very much in when it comes to breaking records. I get excited when I see personal records being kind of set and broken,” Tsitsipas said in his press conference.
“Of course it’s a great satisfaction to be seeing those stats, because there is so much work behind it, and sometimes it’s difficult to grasp the fact that it all happened so quickly.
“I just wish to keep on going. I wish to be healthy and to be fighting for more titles and breaking personal records but also records that haven’t been set before in tennis, like that serve thing that happened in Madrid was quite cool, actually. I never thought about it. It just happened.”
Tsitsipas will look to gain more Grand Slam wins in the future as he aims for a maiden Grand Slam title over the next two weeks.
The world number five also spoke about how tennis is a psychological sport and how important it is to perform well under pressure, “Well, it’s psychological, I believe, a big important part of the game,” Tsitsipas said.
“As I said, in the tiebreaker, my mind shifted. It changed towards something — well, I wasn’t aiming too much for being conservative, and that led me, that for sure I owe to that, that I was able to win a tiebreaker because of that.
“The psychological state that you’re in when you play is “the” most important thing, and this starts from outside of the court. If you’re able to be in peace and balance before you step on the court, that’s already a big
advantage that you have.
“Of course technical, these are minor things that you can always improve on and are much more controllable in a way and have external force too. But I think if you’re a player that can perform big on pressure moments, that is the thing that is going to just give you a good career in tennis.
“There are a few guys that can play good under pressure, especially in big, tight moments, and you have to have the mental strength of a Navy SEAL to pull it through, in a way. You have to have the physique of a marathon runner, the lungs of a marathon runner.
“You have to have the power of a football player, so back to the hard-work part, there is just so many little components that you have to link up in order to make this unbelievable player where you allow yourself to be unstoppable.”
This is a fascinating insight from Tsitsipas on the psychological work it takes to become a successful tennis player.
Now Tsitsipas looks to use these elements to his advantage as he looks to finally make his Grand Slam breakthrough in Paris.
The fifth seed’s Roland Garros charge will now continue on Friday where he plays Nuno Borges or Diego Schwartzman.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Eases Past Carballes Baena To Reach Roland Garros Third Round
Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised into the third round at Roland Garros with victory over Roberto Carballes Baena.
Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised past Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2 to reach the third round at Roland Garros.
The Greek played a near-flawless match to reach the last 32 in Paris as he aims for his maiden Grand Slam title.
Tsitsipas is in Alcaraz’s quarter of the draw and is looking to send a statement of intent to the rest of the draw that he can contend for the title.
Next up for Tsitsipas on Friday is either Diego Schwartzman or Nuno Borges.
The world number five did struggle on serve initially to start the match but gained the early break in the third game with some powerful backhands.
As expected Carballes Baena retaliated with some consistent baseline play, forcing Tsitsipas into engaging in the longer rallies.
The Spaniard had a decent clay season entering Roland Garros and displayed those qualities in the fourth game by creating a break point.
However Tsitsipas survived the game with some clutch play to take a 3-1 lead and would remain efficient throughout the rest of the set, claiming it 6-3.
After a couple of tight service games, to start the second set Tsitsipas once again raised his level on return breaking twice with some powerful returning.
That didn’t mean much in terms of score advantage for Tsitsipas as Carballes Baena was just as efficient on return and took advantage of some tactical errors from the fifth seed.
The Spaniard broke straight back on both occasions as the second set was level at 4-4.
There was a high standard on serve as both players constructed points effectively and were really smart with their methods in order to remain efficient on serve.
In the end there was nothing to separate them as the second set went to a tiebreak with both players impressing in crucial moments.
The tiebreak remained close but Tsitsipas produced world-class shot-making when it mattered most as a forehand winner secured the tiebreak 7-4.
From then on, it was one-way traffic as an early double break lead effectively secured the third set in the match as Tsitsipas cruised into the third round.
After an early scare against Jiri Vesely, Tsitsipas will be pleased to have won today’s contest in more straight-forward fashion as he looks forward to a third round showdown with either Diego Schwartzman or Nuno Borges.
Roland Garros Daily Preview: Inspiring Stories Abound on Wednesday
Second round singles action begins on Wednesday in Paris.
Top names like Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Aryna Sabalenka, and Stefanos Tsitsipas will all be considerable favorites on Wednesday, so this preview will focus on what are likely to be Day 4’s more competitive matchups. And they include some inspiring stories: a 38-year-old former champion fighting back from injury for one more deep run at a Major, the American No.1 playing while thinking about her seriously ill mother, and a former top 10 player from France who has battled his way back from depression and alcohol issues.
Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule. Wednesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.
Camila Giorgi vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – 11:45am on Court Philippe-Chatrier
Earlier this year in an essay for The Players’ Tribune, Pegula divulged the healthy crisis her family has been enduring. Her mother, Kim, went into cardiac arrest last June and nearly died. Kim’s has improved considerably, but she’s still battling significant health issues a year later. Jess has spoken about how her mom’s fight has inspired her tennis in recent months.
Pegula sits at a career-high ranking of No.3 in singles, and is No.2 in doubles. The 29-year-old American has advanced to the quarterfinals at four of the last five Majors, including this one a year ago. Jess also claimed her first WTA 1000 title last October is Guadalajara.
Giorgi is also a WTA 1000 champion, having won at that level two years ago in Canada. She is 14-9 on the year, and ousted France’s Alize Cornet in straight sets in the first round.
They have met nine times at all levels, with Pegula leading 7-2, taking their last four encounters. Giorgi’s last victory over Pegula came during that 2021 Montreal title run. Jess is the superior clay court player, and should advance comfortably despite the always-dangerous power the Italian possesses.
Marketa Vondrousova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Second on Court Suzanne-Lenglen
Vondrousova was a surprising runner-up here four years ago as a 19-year-old. But multiple surgeries have disrupted her young career, with her only final since that 2019 French Open run coming at the Tokyo Olympics, when she took home a silver medal after losing to Belinda Bencic. Yet Marketa is back in strong form, with a record of 20-8 this season, and recent clay court victories over the likes of Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu.
Kasatkina may be a top 10 seed, but she is only 13-12 in 2023. A semifinalist here a year ago, Daria would drop out of the top 10 with a loss on Wednesday, which puts a lot of pressure on her shoulders.
This should be a fun matchup, with both players possessing plenty of variety in their games. And they have split four prior meetings, and are 1-1 on clay. But based on recent form, Vondrousova is a slight favorite to take out the ninth seed.
Stan Wawrinka vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (WC) – Second on Court Simonne-Mathieu
Wawrinka’s title run in Paris came eight years ago, with recent years filled with surgeries and a whole lot of rehab. Yet that made his first-round five-set victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas all the more satisfying. Stan is looking to reach the third round of a Major since this tournament in 2020.
Kokkinakis’ career has been sabotaged by injuries from a very young age. But the 27-year-old Australian has been enjoying the healthiest stretch of his career across the last few seasons. Thanasi is 24-12 this year at all levels, and upset Dan Evans in straight sets in the first round.
Their first career meeting feels like it could go either way. The much-younger Kokkinakis should be the fresher player on the day. However, in the second round of the last Major, Thanasi suffered an excruciating loss to another aging Slam champ, in a near six-hour affair with Andy Murray. That is the kind of loss that sticks with you for a long time, especially when it happens at your home Major. With that in mind, I favor the Stanimal to pull out another tight victory on Wednesday.
Lucas Pouille (Q) vs. Cameron Norrie (14) – Last on Court Suzanne-Lenglen
Currently ranked 675th in the world, Pouille has won four matches since the start of qualifying, even defeating lucky loser Jurij Rodionov twice, once in qualifying and once in the main draw. Both of his victories over Rodionov were emotional: one was spent shedding tears of joy while holding his young son, the other spent singing La Marseillaise along with the Parisian crowd. After the demons Lucas has faced in recent years, each victory is as sweet as a French crepe.
Meanwhile, Norrie has become one of the sport’s most reliable performers since upping his physical fitness a few years ago. The 27-year-old is 28-10 in 2023, and survived a five-setter in the opening round against another Frenchman, Benoit Paire.
They have split their two prior meetings, both of which took place at Majors, and both of which were close. Five years ago at this tournament, Pouille prevailed in a fourth set tiebreak. Two years ago at Wimbledon, Norrie prevailed 7-5 in the fourth. In the rubber match on Wednesday, Cam must be favored despite what any French heartstrings may say.
Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:
Roberto Carballes Baena vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) – Tsitsipas required four sets, and was nearly pushed to a fifth, against Jiri Vesely on Sunday. Carballes Baena won in straights, and won at ATP title on clay last month in Marrakech. When they met five years ago on clay in Estoril, Stefanos narrowly prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.
Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taro Daniel – Alcaraz dropped just seven games on Monday, in his first match at a Major as a Slam champion and World No.1. Daniel also prevailed in straight sets, and is now 8-6 this year at tour level. At a clay court Challenger tournament two years ago, Carlitos defeated Taro in three sets.
Iryna Shymanovich (Q) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka easily won her opener on Sunday, while 25-year-old qualifier Shymanovich claimed her first victory at a Major in her debut at this level. Aryna could become the new World No.1 this fortnight depending on how far she and Iga Swiatek advance.
Novak Djokovic (3) vs. Marton Fucsovics – Djokovic claimed his 86th French Open victory on Monday in straight sets. Fucsovics claimed his seventh, and is 0-4 against Novak, though he’s taken a set in three of their four meetings.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
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