The days at Roland Garros passed very quickly. We already known the first quarterfinalist but who will follow them in the last eight we will know after the second Monday of The French Open. Today we will see on the court world No. 1 in men’s and women’s tennis, seeking another Grand Slam title and rewriting the history, also Venus Williams and many classy players.
(1) Novak Djokovic – (14) Roberto Bautista Agut
Last year finalist Novak Djokovic is still searching for the elusive Grand Slam in Paris, which he is missing in his collection of trophies. Seemingly Novak has an easy draw to the final. After the 9-time champion Nadal withdrew from the tournament, he will not meet top 5 player before the final. Nadal’s absence significantly changes the landscape for several players, perhaps most notably for Djokovic, who is seeking his first French Open title. “It was sad seeing him in the press conference,” Djokovic said,“You could feel his pain, definitely.”
Despite his statement, the tournament continues unabated and it is no time for distraction for the world number 1. In his first three matches Novak recorded 3-set quick wins and clearly shows that he didn’t come to Paris to waste his time. He beat consecutive Lu, Darcis and Bedene not even showing the best of which he is capable of. With 37 wins and 3 losses this year, Novak already won 5 titles – 1 ATP 250, 3 Masters 1000, and his favourite Australian open. He started the clay season with unexpected and shocking lost against Czech Jiri Vesely. Yet in his next tournament he corrected and became winner in Madrid. He was finalist in Rome, but lost to Andy Murray in 2-sets. The serb is 3-times finalist in Paris and 4-time semifinalist and hasn’t lost before the semifinals since 2010.
The 29-year-old will face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut next. This year he won his 3th and 4th ATP titles in Auckland and in January and Sofia open in February. Last year for him is not with the tempo in with which he began the year, but Agut is still in top 20 of mеn’s tennis. He won 5 matches on clay before Roland Garros and lost 4. His way to round 16 was strangely easy. He beat Tursunov, Mathieu and Coric all in 3-sets and becomes the 4th opponent for Novak. It’s important to note that Agut is part of the 4th round in Roland Garros for the first time in his career.
Is the Spaniard able to show something different to the world number 1, or he will keep going to the quarters easily? They played 4 times and Novak won all of those matches. Last one was in less than a month – in Madrid Masters Djokovic dropped only 3 games and confirmed that this opponent is comfortable for him.
(12) David Goffin – Ernests Gulbis
5th appearance in Paris for Goffin and he is in 4th round for the 2nd time. He comes in Paris with 22 wins in 32 matches this season. His best results so far were achieved in American Masters in Indian Wells and Miami, where he reached semis in both. Clay season for Goffin hasn‘t been so successful. He won 6 matches and lost 4. Last week his first 2 matches was easy for him but in 3rd round he needed 5 sets to past the unseeded Nicolas Almagro.
His opponent tomorrow is the always unpredictable Latvian Ernests Gulbis. The player who briefly fell from the top to the bottom, again is in the closing stages of the tournament. In 2014 when he reached the semifinal the latvian was into the top 20, but maybe this doesn’s matter for him. Currently ranked at no.80 it seems that the nightmare is coming to an end. In his way to 4th round Gulbis beat Seppi, 26th seed Sousa and last year semifinalist Tsonga. This match ended in the first set because the French was forced to retire due to injury while leading 5-2. “It’s never nice to win like this, so I feel very sorry for him,” said Gulbis of Tsonga, who left the court in tears. “There’s not much I can say about the match itself. It was just the beginning. I was just starting to get to feel the atmosphere of the center court. I haven’t been here for a couple of years”.
For his next opponent he says “In the practices I couldn’t beat Goffin because the guy is like a wall, I think he likes playing against guys like me, who are hitting the wall. But if I remember right, I beat him once in Acapulco or somewhere. I don’t remember exactly where, but I think I’m capable of beating him.”
As Gulbis said he has victory over Goffin in Acapulco in 2014. He defeated him in a very difficult battle with tiebreak in the third set. Year later the Belgian took revenge and beat him in 3-sets on clay in Madrid. For their 3rd meeting they will come extra concentrated and ready for a new fabulous battle.
(1) Serena Williams – (18) Elina Svitolina
Serena is back in top form to defend her title in Paris. She stormed past Rybarikova and Pereira in the first 2 rounds. She lost just five games in this opening two matches but needed two hours and 11 minutes to battle past Mladenovic in a rain-affected match on Philippe Chatrier. She beat one of the few remaining French players 26th seed Kristina Mladenovic in 2 tense sets 6/4 7/6 (10). “She played really, really well and forced me to bring out my best tennis,” said Williams. “Serena was really aggressive, went for her shots and took risks,” her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said. “That’s her game.” World no.1 won her first title in 9 months in Rome 2 weeks ago. The American has played in only 4 tournaments this year,but reached finals in 3 of them. Full with new strength the 3-time champion is here for another good performance in the France capital.
She will play in the fourth round against Ukraine’s 18th seed Elina Svitolina, who knocked out the 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic to win her first match against her. In her seven previous matches with Ivanovic, the 18th-seeded Svitolina of Ukraine had only managed to win a set. Svitolina had also lost twice at Roland Garros to Ivanovic. “I was really confident today, I don’t know. Just everything was right.” Said Svitolina, who had won just one match on clay this season before coming to Paris. She also won her first two matches easily, like the last one. In 2016 she owns 1 title in Kuala Lumpur. The young Ukrainian is coached by Justine Henin from this year and this might help her in the match against Serena. The retired Belgian has 2 wins against the younger sister in Paris and will give precious tips to Svitolina.
S.Williams and Svitolina has already played 3 matches. First one was in 2012 in Fed cup, where Serena won quckly. Last season they played the other 2 meetings. In Australian open Svitolina got the first set, but angry Serena turned hastily the next two. In august in the way to her title in Cincinnati Williams defeated Elina in the semifinals in 2-sets.
(9) Venus Williams – (8) Timea Baczinsky
Shortly after Serena, Venus beat unseeded Alize Cornet roaring back from a rough second set to win 7-6(5) 1-6 6-0 and make the fourth round for the first time since 2010. Last year she lost her first match and now she continues to add new points. This season Venus already won 1 title. It happened in Kaohsiung in February, but in the other tournaments she played and lost her 1st or 2nd match. On clay she won 2 matches and lost 2. The older sister now needs one more victory to reach the quarterfinals here for the first time in 10 years.
Next for Williams, whose best result at Roland Garros came in 2002 when she lost to her sister Serena in the final, is a matchup with No. 8 crafty Swiss Timea Bacsinszky. Semifinalist here last year, Timea is back in another good run, claiming 3 3-sets victory in the start rounds of the tournaments – against Soler-Espinosa, Bouchard and Parmantier. Her best results this year are the title in Rabat 4th her in career and semifinal in Miami.
An all-Williams singles semifinal in Paris is still a possibility, but does Timea have other plans?
All quarterfinalist will become clear tomorrow, so don’t miss the action in Paris!
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