Sascha and Nole walk the tightrope as Svitolina drops (Day 6 – RG 2018).

Novak Djokovic got away with one today. The Serb got the job done but this was nowhere near where he needs to be right now. Bautista Agut served for the third set (at one set all) but tightened up and with it went his opportunity and the match. You just feel that there are a few people in this bottom half of the draw that can beat him.

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If Djokovic got away with one today then I don’t know what Sascha Zverev got away with. Damir Dzumhur served for this in the fourth set today. He is just about hanging in this by the skin of his teeth. The German looks to be on borrowed time having come back from two sets to one down in his last two matches. Had Lajovic been physically fine in the second round we might not even be having this conversation. Had Dzumhur, not of lost his bottle we defo would not be having this conversation. There was a bizarre part of the match when Dzumhur accidentally took out a ball boy when catching one of the balls. Hope the lad is alright, he went to ground quicker them Sergio Ramos. Sascha lives to fight another day.

 

Dom Thiem and Nishikori will square off in the next round after wins over Matteo Berrettini and Gilles Simon. Thiem struggled for a couple of sets before class finally prevailed. Nishikori played much better than against Paire in ousting Simon 6/3 6/1 6/3. It is a huge bonus for him that he looked physically fine. I will stick by my initial prediction, I think he will beat the Austrian.

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Grigor Dimitrov was well beaten by Fernando Verdasco. Having won the first set on a breaker the Spaniard looked good doing the front-running. Dimitrov seemed to be leaking errors on the backhand side and Nando played on that with his forehand. This really wasn’t that much of an upset, in reality, such has been the Bulgarians slump in form. Nole next for Nando.
David Goffin is tied at one set all but a break up in the third against Monfils before rain put paid to proceedings for the evening. Karen Khachanov is also two sets up on good pal Lucas Pouille.

 

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Marco Cecchinato will be waiting for the winner of Goffin/Monfils having scored the biggest win of his career against Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets. I certainly did not see the Italian having this run. Props.

 

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If you read my French Open Preview 2018. You will have noticed I made a point of saying a ‘tough third round against Mihaela Buzarnescu should be passed’ by Elina Svitolina. It wasn’t! Now, I am a fan of Buzarnescu, I have pointed to the fact she has impressed me before. She blew up last week against Cibulkova in the semis of Strasbourg when looking superb. She did not make the same mistake again today. The usual aggressive tactics, especially off the backhand had Svitolina squeaking.

 
The Ukranian will be 24 in a few months time and she has now missed the boat on several occasions. Is she learning from it? Time will tell. She has tried to become a lot more offensive (rightly so) but it has not worked on the big stage thus far. Back to the drawing board for Svitolina. Buzarnescu will now play Madison Keys who got off to a flyer against Naomi Osaka. The American dominating the first, before saving set points in the second and getting over the line in the breaker. She is sneaking through the draw at the moment as a player who is largely unfancied on clay.

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Daria Kasatkina played a pretty safe match against Maria Sakkari. She did go awol in the second set but refocused nicely for the decider. She will play Caroline Wozniacki next. Caro has had a pretty easy time of it so far and today was no different as she beat Pauline Parmentier 6/0 6/3. I have seen several references to the Dane opening up a bakery in Paris this week. It is a banter phrase in relation to the number of bagels (6/0 sets) and breadsticks (6/1 sets) she has served up this week. I think Kasatkina will relax more for this one against Woz. It should be a screamer having beaten her twice already this season.

 
Petra Kvitova v Anett Konaveit and Camila Giorgi v Sloane were scheduled for today, but due to bad weather and light, they will now trade blows tomorrow. Some pretty big blows too, as some seriously heavy hitting on offer here.

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Barbora Strycova will face off in the last 16 against Yulia Putintseva, with both having very different paths through today. Strycova made the fourth round here for the first time with a comfortable 6/2 6/3 win over fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova. Putintseva trailed Qiang Wang 6/1 4/0 and was also 3/0 down the decider. Nerves playing their part here for Wang, who had already taken out Venus. The Kazak battles through to face another day. The winner of this plays Keys/Buzarnescu in the quarters.

Andy Del Potro

 

 

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