I am not going to lie, there was an air of disappointment after this defeat, one I realised I needed to get over pretty quickly though. I have not gone into a slam with as low an expectation as this, period, it is the only one I have mentally accepted Serena probably wouldn’t win anymore. It was all about getting matches under her belt in Paris and really going after it on the grass (very much like it has been for Federer). As the days have gone by and players have fallen, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t started to think this was a chance. So I built myself up for the fall, nobody else. The thigh has been heavily tapped and we are playing on her weakest surface that at times even her shots lose penetration. In truth, I might reflect and be happy we have won a few rounds here. The final against a player like Iga Swiatek would not have been easy and as the betting markets suggested, she wouldn’t have been a favourite for. Even some of the players in the bottom half will, as we witnessed yesterday be tougher to beat than you might think. I knew Rybakina was playing well again for example. She played well yesterday too but I think Serena summed it up herself when she said “There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match. I’m not winning those points. That literally could just change everything.” I saw Laura Robson was saying for the BBC that she thinks Rena should play a build event on the grass. Depending on how the thigh is, it might not be a bad idea, it did seem to be more heavily tapped as we progressed in Paris though. I trust her and Patrick to do the right thing regardless and they will. Any which way, I have been so lucky to have seen Serena dominate the game and she has given me moments I will never, ever forget as part of Renas Army. On we go. Up the GOAT.
Rybakina will play her first quarter-final against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian is performing at an exceptionally high level right now and she will be looking to make her first semi-final of a slam having previously reached six quarter-finals. She came from a set down against Vika Azarenka yesterday and her ability to fire winners (45 in total) is becoming a common theme in her matches. She is now the most experienced player left in the bottom half and will be looking to use that to her advantage. Rybakina has been priced as the early favourite here but not by an awful lot at 8/11 (1.72). Paula Badosa and Tamara Zidansek complete the last 8 in the bottom half, insuring a first-time finalist. Badosa played better than her previous round to beat Marketa Vondrousova and she will go in as quite a strong favourite against Zidansek. The Slovenian won a key first set breaker against Cirstea, who tightened up more out of the two of them. Badosa hasn’t come in here as a ‘Big’ name but her form has meant she has been quite fancied. From a neutral point of view, these are some intriguing matchups.
I was quite disappointed that Pablo Carreno Busta didn’t give Tsitsipas more of a game but in hindsight, I was probably asking for a lot. Stefanos is on fire at the moment and despite trailing by a break in the third, he broke back and then broke again. PCB hasn’t got the best record against these boys, he beats who he should beat generally. This was comfortable. It probably needs to be though as he runs into Daniil Medvedev next. I always remember these two having a row at the end of a match in Miami I think it was. There is certainly respect there but also a strong rivalry, where it will mean a lot to both players to win this. Daniil said, “I have high expectations for this match, I consider Stefanos the main alternative to Rafa and Novak and I want to see what I am capable of proposing to beat him.” It was even more comfortable for him in his 6/2 6/1 7/5 win over Christian Garin. Worth noting he did have the trainer out in the third set to looks at his elbow. Daniil is made of stern stuff mind.
Sascha Zverev put in his most complete display in Paris so far this year, admittedly against a subpar Kei Nishikori but I think the German showed enough here to suggest the result wouldn’t have changed anyhow. A nice balanced, aggressive performance from him and to win as easily as 6/4 6/1 6/1 will do him good, he needs to conserve some energy too. Should he make the semis, he will need to have as much left in the tank as he can for what will lie ahead, in his quest for a first slam. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina will be his opponent in the quarters. There were some nerves shown in his victory over my outside tip for the quarter, Federico Delbonis but he was the player being more proactive (as you would expect). The Argentines best chance was hanging around and seeing what he could get and that is what he did, winning the third set was proof of that. It wasn’t enough though as the Spaniard seems to be improving mentally.
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).