I usually stick up for Nick but I can’t say too much about that yesterday. After Marion Bartoli’s comments about Kyrgios and Monfils, the Frenchman got his head down and played a decent match on Centre to take out Sam Querrey. Nick turned to social media to have a moan and then went out on Court One and got smashed by Kei Nishikori. Yesterday he was flat, nervous and didn’t get into it before it was too late. Nishikori has been suggesting that he has been struggling to come to terms with grass but you cannot give a player of his quality a 1/6 0/2 lead. That is essentially what Kyrgios did. Don’t get it twisted, Kei played well, he said potentially it was the ”best [grass] match of my life”. For me Nick didn’t play anywhere near the level he should have. He was exposed with his poor returning yesterday, compounded by getting broke serving to stay in at *4/5. Afterwards, he said, “I felt great this morning. Hit the ball fine. As soon as I got out there, I just didn’t feel good. I don’t know what it was”. The 6/1 7/6 6/4 loss was what he infuriatingly deserved though.
Ernests Gulbis will have a crack at Nishikori in the next round. One of my 100/1 shot tips for the quarter has given me a right run here. He ousted Sascha Zverev in five and in all honesty, this could have been done in four. The Latvian, who showed great power and variation towards the end had lost 4 straight games from *5/3 at one set all in the third. Zverev said he had been struggling with illness but you gotta give it to Ernests, who pushed his nerves to one side, winning the fourth 6/3 and then bagelling Zverev in the decider.
Kyle Edmund got off to a flyer against Novak Djokovic but couldn’t quite maintain his level, losing his focus at the end of the second set and start of the third was key. From a setup and on serve he found himself at one set all and a breakdown. Djokovic was particularly wound up with what he thought was bad sportsmanship from the crowd. I actually think it fired him up and got the necessary reaction from him. Another good stepping stone for Nole, who looked all at sea early on. He will play Karen Khachanov in the Last 16. The Russian came back from two sets down against a wavering Frances Tiafoe. Frances said he had stomach cramps and this goes down as one of those early lessons. Two players, I like the look of though and both have played well on the grass.
Juan Martin Del Potro continued to sneak his way through the field with a straight-sets win over Benoit Paire. Another very tidy effort from the Argentine who is starting to become a genuine contender right now. We know he can beat Nadal and Federer and those flat, heavy strokes will cause both problems on this surface. The fact he hasn’t dropped a set yet is great news for his body. Gilles Simon is next for Delpo after beating Matty Ebden in four. Delpo will certainly want to be keeping the points short here.
Rafa Nadal coasted past Alex De Minaur for the loss of just seven games, he has certainly looked as supreme as the Fed-Express up to this point. He will be keeping one eye on a potential last 8 matchup with Del Potro. Jiri Vesely is next for the Spaniard after he beat Fabio Fognini in four sets. Classic Fognini here, who had treatment for his knuckles after punching his racquet. I fancied Vesely and backed him at 13/8, so happy days. Gotta love Fog whatever though.
Milos Raonic navigated his way past Dennis Novikov on the resumption of play, this was held over from Friday. A lot was made that Novikov didn’t want to serve at *5/6 in the third on Friday and he was broke immediately yesterday giving Raonic a two sets to one lead. The Canadian wrapped it up 6/2 in the fourth.
Su-Wei Hsieh has caused another big upset in the Ladies. She came back from 5/2 down in the decider to beat top-seed Simona Halep on Court One. By the way is Court One turning into ‘The new graveyard’? Off the top of my head Halep, Wozniacki, Venus, Kvitova and Sloane have all lost on there this year. Grass has always been Halep’s weakest surface and this looked a good opportunity to start rectifying that. However, the variation of slices and drop shots from Su-Wei caused the Romanian a headache and caused major uncertainty. Dominika Cibulkova is her next opponent after she backed up her victory over Jo Konta by walloping Elise Mertens 6/2 6/2. She can equal her best showing of the quarter-finals with a win over Hsieh, she achieved this back in 2011 and 2016.
Jelena Ostapenko and Aliaksandra Sasnovich both had easy wins over Vitalia Diatchenko and Daria Gavrilova, they will square off on Monday. Neither of their opponents duplicated the performances from previous rounds. My, this first quarter is (even more) massively open now. Ostapenko and Cibulkova are the two favourites for the quarter but you just don’t know.
Daria Kasatkina was superb against Ash Barty. The fact that the Russian can probably match the variation of the Ozzy (something a lot can’t do), meant she nullified a major part of her opponents’ threat. She came up just short in Paris but is clearly improving, week in, week out, 7/5 6/3 here is further proof. She plays Alison Van Uytvanck next after the Belgian gave Anett Kontaveit a bit of a going over, the Estonian coming up with way too many errors ultimately. Having played so well against Muguruza, she is now one match away from equalling her best run at a Slam (Paris 2015).
Angie Kerber also put in a stellar performance against Naomi Osaka. Much better than her previous round against Claire Liu. There wasn’t too much wrong with the German’s game yesterday, even serving well. Osaka said that she was “overwhelmed” with her debut on Centre and feels like she has let herself down. Not backing her volleys by staying on the baseline didn’t help matters here. Another tough match awaits Kerber as Belinda Bencic seems to be finding her form again, it was always only going to be a matter of time. Bencic was a 6/1 7/6 winner over Suarez Navarro. Angie is really going to need to be on this from the word go as Bencic holds a 4/0 head to head.
Let’s get ready for Manic Monday at the Championships. Enjoy.
Andy Del Potro