Sunday, June 10, 2018

2018 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [4] vs. Dominic Thiem (AUT) [7].
Here are my predictions for the men's final at the 2018 French Open. Last year I correctly predicted Rafael Nadal would defeat Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 final. This year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals2 of 2 women's semifinals, 2 of 2 men's seminfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals.


Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] d. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) [5] 6-4 6-1 6-2.  Surprisingly, this match was less competitive than the match Nadal played against a different Argentine, the diminutive Diego Schwartzman, in the previous round. Del Potro apparently suffered a hip injury midway through the first set and the ruthless Spaniard took advantage of the diminished mobility to punish and pummel Del Potro into submission.

Dominic Thiem (AUT) [7] d. Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-5 7-6(10) 6-1. nThis was a surprisingly competitive match between the #8 player in the world and someone barely into the Top 100. That is a strong statement in support of the play of the Italian, who had an almost magical run here in Paris which was just barely stopped before he could reach the final, but not before he has won several hundred thousamd Euros as an unseeded 2018 Roland Garros finalist.


Thiem is the only player to have won 2 sets on clay against Nadal in the same match in the last three years. He did it twice (2018 Madrid quarterfinals and 2017 Rome quarterfinal) and is clearly the second best clay court player in the world. However, the distance between the best player and the second best is huge, as Nadal has demonstrated time and time again. Nadal joins his nemesis/frenemy Roger Federer in the record books as the second man to play in 11 major finals on the same surface. (Federer has done it at Wimbledon, of course and is 8-3 with 1 loss to Nadal in 2008 and 2 losses to Novak Djkokovic in 2015 and 2016). Nadal is 11-0 in finals (and semifinals!) at Roland Garros and has only ever lost two matches there: 4th round to Robin Soderling in 2009 and in the quarterfinal of 2015.) It's hard to imagine  a more prohibitive favorite than Nadal. Amazingly, it would mean that for the second year n a row Federer and Nadal would have split the first two majors of the year between them.

MadProfessah's pick: Nadal.

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