Day 8, RG 2017 – Kiki delights home crowd as Thiem sets up Nole Quarter-Final!

Kiki held her nerve and knocked out the reigning champion, Garbine Muguruza, despite serving a whopping 16 doubles faults. Mladenovic has said that the service stat is down to the ongoing injury to her back. At times today, she pinged the forehand majestically and it was enough. Muguruza struggled with her own game and the crowd, she failed to capitalise when the opportunities came her way. She was furious with the crowd but this has to be expected if I’m honest. We are in Paris and many a player has felt the wrath of the Parisian crowd in the past and it probably won’t be the last time she will even face it. Kiki showed mental strength towards the end as her opponent was clearly struggling on the front. Interesting, are the rumours that Mladenovic requested to play on the Lenglen as it suits her game. She will face Timea Bacsinszky for a place in the last 4. Bacsinsky blew a 5/1 lead in the opening set against Venus as she looked to have lost her momentum. She mixed her play up nicely in the next two sets with the cross court drop shots paying dividends. I wouldn’t say Venus was at her best, a few errors today but I maintain she’s in great shape for the remainder of the season on her preferred surfaces. Caroline Wozniacki beat Kuzzy, the long matches going into this finally took their toll on Kuznetsova. Slow starting and erratic for parts, against the Dane that is always going to be a problem. When on her game, Kuzzy is simply a delight to watch and there were glimpses of that in the second set. Woz didn’t let her off the hook today and weathered the storm in the decider, she progresses to play Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian will play in her first quarter-final after beating Sam Stosur. She also leads the head to head 3-0 against Woz, with two of those wins coming on the clay swing this year, including recently in Prague. Her aggressive baseline game causes the Dane problems and if she can execute we may have a similar story. The last 32 matches scheduled for yesterday were also completed today. Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova beat Magda Linette and Carina Witthoeft in straights. Neither player thought they played their best but they both got it done!. Svitolina will face Petra Martic after she hammered Anastasija Sevastova 6/1 6/1. Sevastova said after “She played exactly as I do not like. I didn’t think she could slice it so well”. Interesting! What a run from the qualies here though for the Croat. Pliskova will face Veronica Cepede Royg in the last 16 after she beat the former junior champion, Mariana Duque Marino. The Paraguayan said nerves played a big part as they are mates, she also said that she threw up after the match and thinks she may have a gastrointestinal illness. Not ideal prep but a top effort nonetheless.

In the Men’s, the three matches that weren’t complete yesterday also came to a conclusion today. Nishikori held off the fight back from Hyeon Chung, who double-faulted on match point down in the fifth. Kei admitted that he would probably have lost had it been finished on Saturday, saying he “wasn’t ready”. Really good effort from Chung though, building on his decent start to the year. Karen (K)hachanov surprised me by beating John Isner, he’s obviously playing very well the Russian. He dismantled Berdych in three sets previous to this. He faces Muzza now! Richard Gasquet pulled out against Monfils in the third with a thigh injury and said “I had reached the end of my tether. It was too painful to go on,”. Monfils plays Stan next. Back on schedule now, the fourth round matches from today saw Dominic Thiem put in another impressive performance against Horacio Zeballos. He totally outplayed his opponent again and I think he’s got a great chance against Novak next. ‘The Dominator’ knows how to play the 5 set format and the power was there for all to see again today. Djokovic leads the head to head 5-0 and hammered a tired looking Thiem in Rome recently. but this may be different. Djokovic took out Ramos-Vinolas in straights, this what was his best performance so far here this year. Some brutal points for the crowd to get stuck into but the Spaniard generally looked pretty spent, maybe after his exertions against Lucas Pouille. Rafa ousted Bautista-Agut for the loss of 5 games, this is just mental form again. Literally hammering every opponent in sight! Bautista tried everything but to no avail! Next for Rafa, is Pablo Carreno Busta who outlasted Milos Raonic 8/6 in a deciding set. PCB held it together well after not serving it out at the first attempt. Ice cool, in the end, to be fair. Loads of errors from Milos today cost him but I’m not sure how much PCB will have left in the tank for Nadal!

Andy Del Potro

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