Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2016 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Quarterfinals (and R16) Preview, Part 1

Here are my predictions for the 2016 men's quarterfinals and remaining Round of 16 matches at the French Open. Last year I correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I will try to predict the women's quarterfinals (and remaining Round of 16 matches) in a separate post.


Andy Murray [3] vs Richard Gasquet (FRA) [9] Kei Nishikori (JPN) [5]. Andy Murray has clearly been the second best player on clay this year (behind Novak Djokovic) and this year has a win on clay against Nadal (in Madrid!) and also a win against Djokovic (in Rome!). After playing 13 times in his home country's slam and never getting to the second week, Richard Gasquet put on a clinic of stylish tennis to dismiss a surprisingly erratic Kei Nishikori in their Round of 16 match on Sunday. Murray will not be daunted by the fact that the vast majority of the crowd on Roland Garros' largest court will be backing his opponent, hoping a Frenchman can finally reach a final again (Henri Leconte did it in 1988). Over the years, Murray has done well when he has been faced with dashing the hopes of Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga He will probably play better knowing that the fans don't want him to win. I think Murray has an excellent chance of reaching his first French Open final this year. He has a 7-3 head-to-head against Gasquet and has won their last five consecutive meetings. There's not much to suggest that this match will have a different resultMad Professah's pick: Murray.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] vs 
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) Milos Raonic (CAN) [8]. This is not the Spanish lefty anyone would have predicted would be playing in the Roland Garros quarterfinals this year. All his compatriots: Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez have left the tournament but Ramos-Vinolas is still here, playing in his first major quarterfinal.  This is a lucky break for Wawrinka, but the defending champion would not have had much of a difficulty against the seed who should have made it this far, Milos Raonic. I'll be shocked is he has trouble against someone who has never won a clay court tournament on the ATP tour. Mad Professah's pick: Wawrinka.


Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [14]. This match was suspended at 3-6 6-4 4-1 but even if it wasn't I would still be surprised to see Djokovic lose this match even if the scores were reversed and play was resuming. With Nadak out of the picture, this is Novak's year to complete his career slam. Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic.
David Ferrer (ESP) [11] vs. 
Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7]. This could have been a semifinal or quarterfinal a few years ago when both players were in the top 5. Surprisingly, Ferrer owns a 8-6 career head-to-head over his much taller opponent, but they have split their head-to-head meetings on clay. Even more surprisingly, despite playing so badly that he was double bageled in Rome (by David Goffin), just the week before this horrible performance Berdych was able to beat Ferrer on clay in Madrid. This match should be a nearly interminable war of attrition. In that case, I'll give the edge to the indefatigabe Spaniard (although Berdych has one their one best-of-five grand slam match). Mad Professah's pick: Ferrer.

Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs. Dominic Thiem (AUT) [13]. 
The 21-year-old from Austria is one of the hottest players on tour all year long and is finally making it count in a major. I wouldn't be surprised to see Thiem reach a semifinal here. After all, he has a win on clay this year against Nadal, even after being down match point! Mad Professah's pick: Thiem.

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs. David Goffin (BEL) [12].
Gulbis was the beneficiary of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's 30-year-old body giving up on him in the round before. Goffin is a clear-thinking counterpuncher who loves clay and has been steadily rising up the rankings and this is an excellent time for him to make his first major qurterfinal. Mad Professah's pick: Goffin.

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