The rain in Paris spoiled plans and last 4th round matches were delayed for Tuesday. This confused the program and now the tournament goes a day late. Tomorrow is the first quarterfinal day at Roland Garros. 8 players will try to get into the best 4, but behind each of them stands another tough match. Although conditions in Paris are constantly changing, the players are not afraid of the weather and are ready to give everything for а semifinal spot.
Tomorrow in the court in Paris will be hot. We will see world number two Murray, last year’s champion Wawrinka also Muguruza and Radwanska.
(2) Andy Murray – (9) Richard Gasquet
Although he started hesitantly and insecure this year’s race, Murray took matters into his own hands. He had to come back against Stepanek and Bourgue, but his 3rd and 4th round without dropping a set he easily overcame bombing 27th seed Ivo Karlovic and 15th John isner. In the second set of the match there was a bit of suspension due to rain. After the rain-break Murray had no plans to insert into problems and closed the match 7/6 6/4 6/3 after 2h40 match time. Despite expectations that the match will not be finished on Sunday, Murray showed nerves of steel and closed before sunset and before another portion of rain. It was a very important tie-break to win.
I got lucky on his first set point when I guessed right on a short forehand, I managed to save more set points and it was a bit more comfortable after that.” said Murray for the first set, which was most difficult. It was obviously difficult conditions with the rain, it was good to have the (one-set) lead going into the rain delay.” Said Murray after the win.
In quarters Murray will play with home favourite and only left French player Richard Gasquet.
He reached that stage of the tournament for the first time in his career, at age of 29. On Sunday he upset 5th seed and one of dark horses Kei Nishikori 6/4 6/2 4/6 6/2. Kei has won the last 2 meetings last month in Madrid and Rome but this fact didn’t interfere an inspired Gasquet. The match has stopped as soon as their start. In first set Nishikori took the lead 4/2 when heavy rain forced a match stop of nearly an hour. After the delay Richard back stronger than ever and won 4 consecutive games to get the first set. “I was fired up at the restart, I knew I had to match his tempo if I did not want to lose in three sets, He re-started badly (after the rain) and that gave me confidence to play my game and go for my shots.” He said. The crowd helped a lot to Gasquet for this great win “I started badly, but everyone helped me and it was difficult for Nishikori to play against that”. For the quarter Gasquet said on Murray “He’s a huge fighter. He runs all over the place and you never get a free point. He has a very powerful mind. When the point is important, he serves fast, he sends back, physically he’s perfect.”
H2H between Murray and Gasquet is 7-3 for the Scot. He hasn’t lost against him since the 2012 Rome Masters. On clay they have 3 meetings and Murray won 2 of them. Against each other they have 4 matches in Grand Slam tournaments and world no.2 won them all. In 2010 and 2012 Murray has beaten Gasquet here, in Paris, but is the French ready to make another good match and beat another big favourite?
(3) Stan Wawrinka – Albert Ramos-Vinolas
One unseeded player is into the quarterfinal phase of Roland Garros. He is Spanish left-handed, but his name is not Rafael Nadal. He is Albert Ramos-Vinolas and makes the tournament of his life at the moment. The 28-year-old Ramos-Vinolas, who has never been past the second round in his appearances in the four Grand Slam tournaments, beat 8th seed Milos Raonic unexpected for everyone easy and fast. Although he was watched by John McEnroe who will help Raonic awhile, he can not cope with the strong play of his opponent. With no titles in his career and only negative balance of 14 wins and 16 losses this season, Ramos-Vinolas is another proof that it doesn’s matter where in the world rankings are you if you play good tennis and fight for every point. “I have no words to explain how I feel,”Vinolas said. “It was four years in a row losing in the first round. I don’t know why this week things seem to be falling into place but I hope I will continue in that way.” Raonic was the second seeded player which 55th in men’s tennis beat this week. Another one was Jack Sock, 23th seed which the Spaniard defeated in 5-sets.
Stan Wawrinka stand on Vinolas’ way to another stage of the event. Last year champion continues his queast to defend his title after 4 wins in a row. On Sunday he had hard start against Viktor Troicki in the first two sets while both exchanged tiebreak wins. After a medical time out, 22th seed Troicki didn’t stop fighting, but Stan got the third and fouth set easy and closed the match with a final score of 7/6 6/7 6/3 6/2. After the battle Wawrinka said “It was far from easy with tough conditions — heavy and cold, but I am happy to have come through it. It was a big battle, but I was able to stay calm and win this match.” This is 11-th consecutive win for Wawrinka at Roland Garros after his triumph last year.
These 2 quarterfinalists’ have played 6 times each other and the rivalry looks bad for Ramos-Vinolas. He lost all of those matches and the last one was in the tournament before this one – Geneva. He got only 2 games in that match and his position didn’t look very comfortable.
(4) Garbine Muguruza – Shelby Rogers
For third consecutive year Garbine Muguruza is in the quarterfinals in Paris. She was in the rolle of outsider in both years on that stage, but now is keen favorite for participation in the semifinal. On fourth round Muguruza defeated former champion and 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2-sets. With a aggressive and smart play, she continues her way. In the end of the match the Wimbledon finalist showed some signs of nerves after wasted 4 match points, but took her 5th chance to end the match 6/3 6/4. After the match Garbine said “I think I have more experience. When I win I analyze why. When I lose I analyze why. And therefore, I have become a better player.
Big surprise in ladies tournament is Shelby Rogers. The 108th in world ranks,playing mostly on ITF events because of her ranking, but after Roland Garros she definitely will get serious on WTA tournaments. The American lady beat 3 seeded players in 4 matches. In first round she knocked out 17th seed Karolina Pliskova, on second – Elena Vesnina. Third round with strange result she beat another Czech – 10th seed and 2-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova 6/0 6/7 6/0. Fourth round on Sunday she passed 25th in the draw Irina Camelia Begu in 2 sets. Rogers career high ranking is 70, achieved in September 2014 but after Roland Garros she will be in top 60. After the match thrilled Rogers said “I always dreamed of this when I was a little girl in Charleston but never really thought I would reach the quarter-finals in Paris. I keep reminding myself to play one point at a time and that this is just another tennis match. But that’s getting a little bit harder to do as the rounds get farther.”
Tomorrow will be the first meeting between these two girls and for sure this match is one of the most intriguing in the program.
(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?
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