Tuesday, June 04, 2013

2013 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Quarterfinals Preview

The men's quarterfinals are now set at the 2013 French Open. Last year, I predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. I have also previewed the 2013 French Open women's quarterfinals.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Tommy Haas (GER) [12] The last time these two met the German played one of the best matches of his career to demolish the World #1 in straight sets, winning twice as many games as he lost, in a virtuoso performance that stunned Djokovic and the tennis world. The two have only played seven times, with the higher ranked player having won 4 of those meetings, including their sole encounter on clay (here at Roland Garros 7 years ago). Haas has had the more exciting run of the two here this year, having outlasted John Isner despite blowing 12 match points. However, in their previous round Djokovic had to come back from dropping his first set of the tournament against Phillip Kohlschreiber, a good clay court player who had beaten the Serb here at Roland Garros before. Haas on the other hand, had a dream 4th round match, dispatching Mikhail Youzhny in under 90 minutes, barely losing 5 games in the process. Haas should be confident, since he knows that he can beat Nole--he has done it this year, and he has done it in a 5-set match. However, will he beat Nole? Almost definitely not. Mad Professah's Pick: Djokovic in 4 sets.

 Rafael Nadal (ESP) [3] vs Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) [9]. This should be the least interesting quarterfinal of the four. Wawrinka did well to come back from 2 sets down against Frenchman Richard Gasquet to reach his first career quarterfinal at Roland Garros. However, Wawrinka has never even won a set from Nadal, despite losing the nine matches the two have played. In fact, Wawrinka lost to Nadal in the final of the Madrid Masters just a few weeks ago. Wawrinka winning a set would be considered an upset at this point, setting up the long-awaited mouth-watering semifinal between Nadal and Djokovic on Friday. Mad Professah's pick: Nadal in 3 sets.

David Ferrer (ESP) [4] vs Nicolas Almagro (ESP) [11] Tommy Robredo (ESP) [32]This all Spanish-quarterfinal ensures that there will be at least one Spaniard in the semifinal, and most people expect 7-time defending champion Rafael Nadal to reach the semifinal on the other side of the draw, so that means an all-Spanish final is still possible. Robredo used to be the best looking man in tennis (a title he has since ceded to fellow compatriot Feliciano Lopez) but the now 35-year old is making history at this year's Roland Garros by becoming the first man in nearly 80 years to come back from 2-0 sets down in not one, not two, but three consecutive matches. Robredo outlasted Igor Sijsling 6-7(4) 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-1, Gael Monfils 2-6 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(3) 6-2 and then Nicolas Almagro 6-7(5) 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-4. Can he really outlast the most fit man in tennis, David Ferrer whom he has 2-6 record against? Doubtful, but he had a 0-5 record against Almago and somehow he won that match. Ferrer has a great draw to get to this first final, and I believe he will (at least) repeat his semifinal run here from last year. Mad Professah's pick: Ferrer in 3 sets.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [6] vs Roger Federer (SUI) [2]. For the second consecutive major these two are meeting in the same round, with Federer prevailing in their tough 5-set enccounter in Melbourne this past January. The Greatest of all Time has a convincing 9-3 head-to-head against the popular Frenchman but has lost to him after holding large leads, most notably the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals despite leading 2 sets to none and the 2009 Montreal Masters quarterfinal despite having a 5-1 lead in the final set! Tsonga is a big match player and if the Parisian crowd gets behind him, look out Federer fans! On paper, Federer should win this match, but the two have only met once on clay with the Swiss player winning. Federer has been the second best player on clay for the last 10 years, and that pedigree should get him through this match, but he played some of his worst tennis against another Frenchman Gilles Simon in the round before, needing the full 5-sets to extend his jaw-dropping streak of 36 consecutive quarterfinal appearances in majors. That was also Federer's 900th career tour win, putting him at #4 on the all-time list. Tsonga on the other hand has looked razor-sharp all tournament long and has yet to have a dip in play or lose a set. I suspect this will be a titanic struggle, won be Federer. However, if the Simon match is an indicator Federer's form is going off, Tsonga could make quick work of him to reach his first semifinal (and potentially his first final) at his home Slam. Apart from Gael Monfils reaching the semifinals in 2008, no French man has been a serious contender to win the Roland Garros title in Paris since Yannick Noah did it  exactly 30 years ago. Mad Professah's pick: Federer in 4 or 5 sets (or Tsonga in 3).

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