Rafa & Nole through, Federer Struggles & Sloane turning up the heat – Day 7 Roland Garros.

Nadal played pretty well in beating Cam Norrie 6/3 6/3 6/3. The Brit can be happy with his efforts here, he led by a break a couple of times in the second set and I thought he equipped himself well. If you can gain a respectable 6/3 in each set off Rafa in Paris with him playing at his usual level, I don’t think you have done too bad. Many have faired far worse. Nozza probably didn’t have the weapons to do much more here with the conditions being reasonably slow. Rafa marches on but a lot of positives for Nozza to kick on with when he takes to the grass courts. Jannik Sinner will be Rafa’s next opponent in a repeat of last years quarter-finals. Sinner beat Mikael Ymer in straight sets. Looking forward to this and to see how much closer the Italian has got to Rafa. As if trading blow by blow (I think they are), Nole had beaten Ricards Berankis in straights sets just previous to this. The Serb is making sure he doesn’t exert too much energy or time on court, he knows this could be imperative were he to meet Rafa in the semis.

Federer had a tough night against Dominik Koepfer but found a way to win in four sets. I have always liked the German and he is pretty underrated. Federer is actually contemplating pulling out of his fourth-round match with Matteo Berrettini now. There is certainly one eye on Wimbledon and we all know that. There was a hint of this a few days ago when he said he didn’t expect to be in Paris for that long. This is being used as preparation you could say. Berrettini will represent a few gears up, the Italian beating Soon-Woo Kwon is a tight straight sets. The Italian always looking the better player but the Korean was very gutsy and hung around making Berrettini win it.

Lorenzo Musetti won a match of really high quality against Marco Cecchinato in the battle of the Italians. There appeared to be some absolute ridiculous shot-making in this five-setter. Described by some as the match of the tournament to date. Worth checking out the lobs and hot dogs on YouTube. His prize is a match with Djokovic. They have apparently practised a few times together this year, so should know one another. Diego Schwartzman contiuned his upturn in form by ousting Kohlschreiber. Last years semi-finalist is making his way through and looking the part once again. Kohli was suffering from an adductor issue but El Peque is relentless. It will be a last 16 encounter against Jan-Lennard Struff who put an end to Carlos Alacaraz’s run. It wasn’t the best day for the Spaniard but you have to expect these kinds of efforts from most young players early in their career. It is how they learn and improve from that that counts.

Sloane Stephens is finally showing the form of old again. She has backed up the win against Karolina Pliskova with a win over Karolina Muchova. This was a good all-around display from her though and if she can keep this up it will take a good performance to put her out. It will be Barbora Krejcikova next (third Czech opponent in a row), she also reached this stage last year. She surprised Elina Svitolina, who put in one of her lousy efforts in a slam. They seem to happen all too often for the Ukrainian, who has followed her boyfriend (Monfils) out of the event. It was once again a very passive performance and the Czech was all over the return of serve. Krejcikova is on a good run, continuing from her title in Strasbourg. The defending champion, Iga Swiatek was made to work hard for the first set by Anett Kontaveit but the Estonian couldn’t keep that level up after tightening up at the end of the opener. On the other hand, the Pole has been the epitome of consistency. She says she has spent a lot of time working on the mentality side of her game and you can see it is paying off from a young age. She plays Marta Kostyuk after she beat a very nervous Varvara Gracheva 6/1 6/2.

Coco Gauff had an easy night of it when Jennifer Brady pulled out after the first set with plantar fasciitis and a bone bruise, she has been carrying this injury since Rome. Ons Jabeur will be Coco’s next matchup, she had to reset after putting in a poor first set against Madga Linette. The Tunisian made a few alterations and promptly dropped one more game in the following two sets. Last year’s runner-up Sofia Kenin dropped the opening set against Jessica Pegula and won in a hard-fought three-set win. She probably should have won the opener from 3/1 but having lost it she was rarely trailing for the rest of the match. She will play Maria Sakkari next who won a good quality contest against Elise Mertens that nearly lasted three hours.

Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).

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