Nishikori and Raonic Eliminated at French Open

  • Top Half

Today there were two big upsets at the French Open but let me get back to the top half first where Djokovic and Thiem advanced as I hoped for. Djokovic defeated Bedene 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 while Thiem defeated Zverev 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

The seeds Bautista Agut, Ferrer, Berdych, and Goffin also survived while Tsonga withdrew in the first set against Gulbis. Djokovic improved from his match on Lenglen against Darcis which you would have expected.

I didn’t get the feeling that he enjoyed playing on Lenglen and although he wasn’t at his best against Bedene either it was definitely a better performance and Bedene played well. I would have liked to see Djokovic score at least one bakery product but got the break at 5-3 in the third to get off the court before it was dark.

There were more rain delays on Saturday which meant that Djokovic was in a race against time to finish his match. I’ve read accusations of gamesmanship but it’s perfectly understandable that Djokovic did not want to come back the next day.

The more important thing was that the crowd seems to have finally warmed up to Djokovic after what happened last year in the final. During the concluding ceremony, the crowd gave Djokovic a long standing ovation which had him in tears.

That is what I mean when I talk about ‘having done his dues’. There must have been a tremendous amount of anger and frustration after all the years of being cursed at the French but Djokovic didn’t show it.

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To the contrary, he was very gracious in defeat and didn’t attract any attention to himself until the crowd almost pulled the emotion out of him. The whole thing was very touching and emotional because Stan was also very gracious in victory.

Against Bedene, the crowd started chanting Djokovic’s name at the end from what I read. Somehow it escaped my ears. So that is good to know and will only help him to finally win that elusive French Open this year.

He is now in a good position and still the favorite to win the title but, of course, there is still a long way to go. Bautista Agut is dangerous as we saw last year at the US Open when he gave Djokovic a very tough four-set match.

He can hit big with those flat ground strokes and as a Spaniard, he is very at home on clay. Looking forward to that match tomorrow.

Then two old foes in Berdych and Ferrer will face off in a matchup which Ferrer leads 8-6. Thiem continued his good form and will face Granollers who got a walkover over Nadal. Finally, Goffin will play Gulbis after defeating Almagro in five sets.

Goffin has been solid of late and I expect a quarterfinal between him and Thiem which would be a good match.

  • Bottom Half

Now to today’s action where Raonic lost in straight set to Ramos-Vinolas and Nishikori lost in four sets to Gasquet. The lost generation disappoints again. Dimitrov is also part of that generation but he is hardly worth mentioning nowadays.

The real deals Stan and Murray at least won with respective victories over Troicki and Isner. To get back to the physical tiredness of Stan after winning Geneva I don’t think that should be a problem anymore since he didn’t play much during the rest of the clay court season.

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He should still be quite fresh. He dropped another set against Troicki and now plays Ramos-Vinolas. Stan should have too much firepower for Ramos-Vinolas while Murray usually beats Gasquet.

So I think we are now looking at a Stan vs Murray semi-final in the bottom half which should be a great match if Stan is at his best.

  • Highlights

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Nadal Pulls Out of French Open

Well well, isn’t this a surprise? It must be pretty bad if it’s going to be ‘broken’ in a couple of days. That said, I’m never surprised when Nadal gets injured given he has the most taxing game style in the history of our sport.

I’m just surprised that his body lasted this long. This is, of course, pretty good news for Djokovic although I didn’t have any doubt myself that he would have defeated Nadal if they met. He pummelled him 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 last year and won the last seven matches and 15 sets against him.

Someone like Thiem may provide him with stiffer competition anyway. So no, there will be no asterisk here if Djokovic wins the title. I know Fedal fans desperately wants to believe it but it is just not true.

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If anything Djokovic deserves this bit of good fortune after all the years of being cursed. This could be a sign that the stars are finally aligning for Djokovic. Let me also dispell the myth that this would be anything like 2009 was for Federer if Djokovic wins the title.

Djokovic did his due last year when he destroyed Nadal. Federer was never able to even take Nadal to five sets at the French. Nevermind win in straight sets. Last year was the year that Djokovic deserved to finally win the title but he got screwed over by the schedule and draw.

So it would only be fitting if he wins it this year!

  • Top Half

Thursday it was the turn of the top half again and Djokovic was far from his best against Darcis but got the job done in straights 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. I thought that was about as bad as Djokovic can play but I guess you have to give credit to Darcis as well.

He has a good slice which seemed to bother Djokovic somewhat but only because he was playing poorly by his own high standards. One of the fascinating things about Djokovic is how he beats high-quality opponents with ease without being at his best.

Djokovic got broken twice in the match. I only remember once though and that was in the third set when he led 2-0. One of the times he got broken he got broken to love as well if I recall correctly. There were just many uncharacteristic unforced errors from him.

But a win is a win and he now plays Bedene who you’d expect him to beat in straight sets as well. As we have seen so many times from Djokovic he brings his best form when it matters most. He is a master at saving his form.

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So that is the way I view the match against Darcis. He still had Nadal ahead of him when he played Darcis and he would have wanted to save as much good form for that match as he could. The worse he can play without losing sets the better for him in a way.

Sure it is nice to destroy everyone 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 but then when you come up against a good opponent you may get a shock. I would say Djokovic’s road to the final looks pretty comfortable now but nothing is guaranteed.

I would like to see a better performance from him against Bedene now that Nadal has withdrawn. Thiem had a good straight-set win over Garcia-Lopez as well and he will play Zverev tomorrow who he also played and defeated in Nice.

With the withdrawal of Nadal, this is now a big opening for him that he must cash in on after some very good form this year. He should make at least his first slam quarters here but hopefully semis. I’d love to see him play Djokovic in the semis.

  • Bottom Half

Today was the bottom half’s turn and for once Murray won in straight sets when he beat Karlovic 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(3). He will now play Isner who defeated Gabashvili in five sets. I don’t expect Murray to have any problems there either but in the quarters, he could well be eliminated.

Kyrgios lost in straight sets to Gasquet today which was somewhat surprising although with Kyrgios you never know. Good win for Gasquet anyway. Verdasco pushed Nishikori to five before Nishikori prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4.

In the third quarter, Stan continued to look good when he straight-setted Chardy 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. Winning Geneva did indeed give him the confidence boost he needed and it looks like he is going on another hot run.

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The physical side may still be a question but if he keeps winning in straight sets he will get plenty of rest. So maybe we are looking at a rematch of last year’s final?

I actually wouldn’t mind that because that would give Djokovic a chance at revenge after a fair draw and schedule. Raonic is also still advancing smoothly and it looks like it will be a quarterfinal between him and Stan.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s action!

  • Highlights

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Djokovic Off to Solid French Open Start, Murray Struggling

Hello, folks. Since the last time I posted, Djokovic played his first match while Murray finished his first round match and played his second match today. Nadal also played his first match while Stan completed his second match today as well.

  • Top Half

Djokovic had a slowish start in his match against Lu after getting broken back in the first set at 4-3, but in the next game, he broke from 0-40 down and held serve to win the opening set 6-4. It was a very average set by his high standards but for the rest of the match, he was untouchable winning the following two sets 6-1, 6-1.

So after a slightly concerning start ,Djokovic looked extremely solid in the last two sets and you would have to say it was a very good start from him. He looked very relaxed and in control out there while playing some terrific drop shots that left Lu with no chance.

He has great feel on that backhand drop shot and it is a very important shot for him especially on clay. It is great for variation and, of course, on clay the drop shot is a must have. Tomorrow Djokovic will be second on Lenglen against Darcis.

Looking at his quarter of the draw again it does look quite comfortable for a player of his quality and his goal would be not to drop a set until the semis. But this is tennis and you just don’t know. He could lose to Darcis for all you know.

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Fedfans have been critical of Djokovic’s on-court behavior…

In the second quarter, Nadal had a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Groth who is a poor clay court player. Fognini lost first round so Nadal won’t have any competition until the fourth round at least where he could face Thiem.

Thiem dropped the first set against Cervantes but won in four. He really should make fourth round given his form of late and at least he may be able to test Nadal. But the early loss of Fognini helps Nadal because he will gain confidence even from destroying three mugs in a row.

At least Thiem did defeat Nadal in Buenos Aires so he could test Nadal if he makes the fourth round.

  • Bottom Half

Murray had to come back on Monday to complete his first round match against Stepanek which he ended up winning in five sets. So the French Open still doesn’t have lights which means Murray had to play three days in a row.

But not only that he played ten sets in those three days. The fact that he went to five sets in both his matches is his own fault but it didn’t help that he had no rest day. Today he was at it again against unknown French player Bourgue.

He won but it was another bruising battle. I’m glad there was so much hype around Murray after he won Rome because as we have seen time and time again with him when there is hype around him he chokes.

And that is exactly what he did in his first two matches. He played like he was under immense pressure when he should have straight setted both opponents. Now he has an uphill battle ahead and he has the toughest draw of the top four with Nishikori and Kyrgios in his quarter.

Unless he goes into the zone and starts winning everything in straight sets he will be exhausted if he does make the final. But I think it is more likely that he loses before then. He can make quarters but then I see Nishikori or Kyrgios shutting him down.

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…they must think Murray is a serial killer

Nishikori and Kyrgios have both been moving along smoothly without dropping a set and are on course for a fourth-round clash. But they both have dangerous opponents in the next round in Verdasco and Gasquet.

Nishikori is still the favorite for me to come through that section and to the semis as well. In the third quarter Stan almost lost in the first round but after coming through in five sets over Rosol he won in straight sets today.

How much of a physical toll will winning Geneva and beginning with a five-set match take on Stan? We know when he goes on a hot run he can just destroy everyone in his path but he doesn’t have a physique for endurance so tiredness could come into play.

His draw is such that he can easily make semis but then if he gets into a tough match with Nishikori, for instance, he could get tired. So as things currently stand the real final will still be between Djokovic and Nadal for me.

Yes, that is looking way ahead but I think if that match happens then Djokovic will easily be the favorite and whoever will be in the final in the bottom half could have tiredness issues. Djokovic and Nadal would still likely be fresh for the final.

  • Highlights

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