Hugo Gaston really made that into a contest yesterday. Dominic Thiem looked as if he was getting the job done in three, using all his experience to zone in on each set. The Frenchman showed incredible variation once again, including some of the best drop shots I have seen in a while and was very, very close to turning this around. You knew having lost the third set Thiem was destined to lose the fourth. He has mentioned several times that he will feel the exertions of NYC and that kept sticking in my mind during this match. You could feel the ‘comedown’ in the fourth set for him and in all truth, he had to pull out all of the stops to reset and put in a strong fifth set. Gaston really impressed me though I have to say, maybe his drop shots lost a bit of accuracy towards the end of the fifth but it was the shot that ultimately put him in this position.
Alex Zverev has left the event under a bit of a cloud after inclinating that he may have coronavirus. Jannik Sinner was on top in this one from the word go and only a slight dip in the third let Zverev back in. Early breaks for the Italian in sets one, two and four were enough to win each set. It is disappointing as Sascha was another of my tips. I was worried about this matchup when fully fit, so any illness kind of meant it was never going to happen for the German here. It has raised a lot of concerns about how often the FFT (French Tennis Federation) are testing and whether there five-day tests are enough. I hope Sinner doesn’t pick up what Zverev had or we could be in for a rough few days here.
Sinner has the hapless task of trying to take out Nadal who unsurprisingly ousted Sebastian Korda. Korda was a 200/1 tip for the quarter with me and he has done himself and myself proud, unlike many of the other tips. I couldn’t really expect him to beat Rafa and although he proved going forward that he would have the big heavy groundstrokes to trouble a player of Nadal’s ability, he was pretty chuffed just to take to the court with him yesterday. Remember the name though for sure. Nadal never ever takes players of this ilk lightly and that is an ominous sign for the young lads. Sinner will be treated with even greater respect and rightly so. Let’s see if the young Italian can make any inroads.
My last standing tip in the men’s is Diego Schwartzman and he is now officially flying the flag for me. A routine straights sets win over Lorenzo Sonego means he is still yet to drop a set. At least he is fresh for Thiem in the last eight and I fully expect ‘El Peque’ to drag out these points and see what Thiem really has left in the tank. Thiem leads the head-to-head 6/2 currently, with a 3/1 record on clay.
The performance from Iga Swiatek was so good that I actually missed it. I was expecting her to give Simona Halep a match but this was something else. The 6/1 6/2 scoreline was full of the promise that this young Pole has been showcasing. I saw recently that she was compared to a powerful version of Radwanska. That is some player. I thought her comments after of “I remembered that last year she beat me but lost against Amanda Anisimova in the next round. I thought we could do the same thing this year but just change the names around” were brilliant.
She will play Martin Trevisan who beat Kiki Bertens in another upset. Wow. Who would have thought that we would have two qualifiers in the last eight in Paris? She mixed up her play against Bertens and the fifth seed had no response. Bertens has not been playing well and I am surprised she has got this far, she should have lost to Errani. What a great effort from Trevian having said that. Wins here over Camila Giorgi, Coco Gauff, Maria Sakkari and now Bertens is decent.
Elina Svitolina put in probably her best performance of the event so far. I am still not convinced with the Ukrainian at all but the draw has really opened up for her. I still think that won’t help her as much as people say and actually think the pressure will work against her. She is expected to make the final now and anything else would simply be an opportunity missed. It tells me a lot though that Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova are ahead of her in the betting. Basically, it confirms my opinion.
As I have already stated, it has been an incredible tournament for underdogs and in particular qualifiers. Nadia Podoroska joined the party with a three-set win over Barbora Krejcikova having already got through qualies. It seems nerves were aplenty in this one and that hardly comes as a surprise with what was at stake. She will play Svitolina for a place in the last four.
Andy Del Potro.