I have to start off with Diego Sebastian Schwartzman. What a good performance from this dude today. I’m known for being slightly against the grain at times and Schwartzman fits the bill. Here he is, at 5 ft 7 absolutely socking it to these bigger lads. Running his socks off and ripping backhand winners down the line are part of the package. He doesn’t have a huge serve and it can be attackable, it puts him into that street fighter bracket and I love watching it. He left the Philippe Chatrier to a standing ovation where Djokovic joined in. He will have won a lot of fans today and he’s on the verge of joining the top 32 in the world. Djokovic, not always at his best today it has to be said makes it through as the Argentine’s body started to break down with wrist and back niggles. As I said before it may be the downside to Schwartzman’s game at the moment and though it may never be easy it should improve. I really hope he keeps this level of improvement up. Djokovic will now play Albert-Ramos Vinolas after he disposed of Pouille in 5. The Frenchman admitted after that he didn’t deal with the occasion well and in the final two sets of his defeat he had nothing left to give. He said the ankle treatment he received had little bearing on the outcome and added that managing the ”tension” was the core problem. Nadal dropped just the single game against Nikoloz Basilashvili, the poor Georgian just could not cope with the spin and sheer weight of Nadal’s shot. Fellow countryman Bautista-Agut is next up after his straight sets win over Jiri Vesely but it’s difficult to see him causing major problems for Nadal. Like many before him, there is no disgrace in that. He will certainly do all he can to make it awkward for his opponent and it is a step up in class for Rafa in Paris. Dominic Thiem beat Steve Johnson in straights and is yet to drop a set. Relatively routine victories for the 23-year-old to date who looks at ease with the expectation and that’s a credit to him. He will play Horacio Zeballos next. The Argentine understandably took no pleasure in making it through after David Goffin retired with an injury. It looked a nasty one, as he scurried along the baseline he got his ankle caught up in the tarpaulin when sliding at the back of the court, this happening at the end of the first set. Hope it’s not serious for the lad and wishing him a speedy recovery. Milos Raonic also made it through via a retirement. Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez admitted that he had just been pulling the trigger in his previous couple of matches and basically hoping for the best. A grade two tear to the quadriceps in his opener against Gilles Muller was the reason for GGL’s all out attack. Raonic was already a set to the good in this one. He now faces Pablo Carreno Busta after he ousted Grigor Dimitrov in straights. I didn’t see nearly as much of this one as I would have liked but from what I did see and the reports that I have read, PCB was totally dominating the Bulgarian from the baseline. He really is turning into a classy operator and Raonic knows he needs to be on it from the word go here. Should be a good match.
Garbine Muguruza has impressed me so far I have to admit. Three decent wins under her belt now in Schiavone, Kontaveit and now Putintseva. She had too much power for her opponent today after getting off to a slow start in the first. Kristina Mladenovic we will be a different test altogether in the next round. Pre-tournament I would have definitely fancied Kiki but it’s difficult to be so confident now. She trailed *2-5 in the decider against Shelby Rogers, before hitting her way out of trouble with the big forehand to win it 8-6. That’s on top of the 9-7 in the decider against Brady in the first round. She can still win this, in what will be a blow for blow bout, but after reading Pouille’s comments you start wondering how much this must be taking out of her. A bit of a ‘Henmanesque’ roller-coaster so far from Mladenovic. Let’s see if she can go again and raise her level against last year’s champion. The crowd will be buzzin and this could be a barn-stormer. Two other players who are in impressive form are Venus and Timea Bacsinszky, a match that has the potential to go right to wire on Sunday. Both have come through again with little hassle against Elise Mertens and Ons Jabeur. Maybe both of their opponents were slightly overawed today but comprehensive nonetheless, can’t ask for any more. Venus sounds so focused right now and it’s one of the many reasons why the Williams family are sooooo legendary! Easy wins for Sam Stosur and Jelena Ostapenko at the hands of Beth-Mattek and Lesia Tsurenko. Stosur looks high on confidence after winning in Strasbourg last week. Ostapenko has looked more impressive after the initial scare in her opener against Louisa Chirico. Stosur goes in as the slight favourite for this, in another ultra-competitive heat. Kuznetsova has just about got over the line against Shuai Zhang, there really does need to be an improvement from Kuzzy. She must have used up a lot of petrol this week and I’m sure she will be pleased to see Bellis v Wozniacki held overnight. The American on the verge of levelling it up at one set apiece. A bit of rain probably wouldn’t do Kuzzy any harm. It has not been vintage from the Russsian yet but I’m hoping she can play herself into form here.
Andy Del Potro