After an exciting first week at at Roland Garros, the quarter-finals for the French Open are now been set and promise some fascinating and mouth-watering ties.
The deciding week in Paris will be unmissable and it will interesting to see who is left standing on Sunday. Yaroslav Pavlenko takes a look at the quarter-final matchups with a view to tackling the Set Betting pools.
Kei Nishikori (7) vs Rafael Nadal (1)
The tournament favourite and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal has been in imperious form thus far, dropping only one set in the tournament. He is looking well-placed to retain his title and win an unprecedented 12th Roland Garros title but will have to overcome a tough test against the determined Japanese star Nishikori, who has shown his customary fighting spirit to reach another Grand Slam quarter final.
However, after consecutive 5-set victories in the two previous rounds, against Laslo Djere and home favourite Benoit Paire, it seems that Nadal will be a step too far, especially considering the defending champion will benefit from an extra day of rest. Nadal will should assert his dominance again and reach another semi-final with relative comfort.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs Alexander Zverev (5)
Defending Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has produced some incredible tennis on his way to a tenth consecutive quarter final, a record. Prioritising the Grand Slams seems to be working for the Serbian and victory at Roland Garros would mean that he holds every major at once for the second time, a feat never achieved in the Open era.
In front of him is the brilliant German Zverev, who is still toiling away to achieve his clear potential in the Grand Slam tournaments. Zverev has been pushed hard in the opening rounds but getting to his second Slam quarter-final should give him belief and confidence. His victory in the previous round against the dangerous Italian Fabio Fognini was particularly impressive. However, Djokovic is simply too strong and it would be a major shock to see anything other than a win for the ultra-consistent ‘Djoker’.
Dominic Thiem (4) vs Karen Khachanov (10)
Austrian talent Dominic Thiem, last year’s finalist, has had an enigmatic start to the tournament. Thiem dropped a set in all three of his early matches against Tommy Paul, Alexander Bublik and Pablo Cuevas, but followed that with an assured and dominant straight-sets win against French home favourite Gael Monfils, a player in good form lately.
Thiem could be peaking at the right time and should be a major threat for the glory on Sunday. In any case, he is beginning to justify his third-favourite tag and will have as good a chance as any to dethrone Nadal as the new king. However, in front of him stands the 6’6 Khachanov, a player classed as one of the ATP’s ‘Next Gen’ talents.
The young Russian is at a career-high world ranking and playing with confidence again after an average run of results. Nevertheless, he has proven himself as a terrific challenge for any player due to his power game and, after a tough victory against the always dangerous Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro, Khachanov will fancy his chances of going even deeper in the competition.
Nevertheless, considering Thiem’s greater movement and variety on the clay courts of Paris, as well as probably being physically fresher, the Austrian should come through a tight encounter and reach another semi-final.
Stan Wawrinka (24) vs Roger Federer (3)
The all-Swiss match-up between Stan Wawrinka and the great Roger Federer is perhaps the stand-out quarter-final. Wawrinka has been rolling back the years at Roland Garros, belying his lowly seeding due to recent struggles with injury and form, and has grabbed excellent victories against the likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 2015 champion will no doubt be confident of potentially winning a second French title but just how much will that five set epic win over Tsitsipas affect him here?
2009 champion Roger Federer is playing on the Paris clay for the first time in four years and his performances thus far have been immaculate. At 37, Federer is yet to drop a set in the tournament and, although benefitting from an easy draw, it would be wrong to take anything away from his performances.
He is evidently relishing being able to play without any high expectations and his smooth progress will have kept him physically fresh, a factor which may prove crucial if this match produces the long, punishing rallies that previous matchups between the pair have produced.
With that in mind, Federer will has a fantastic chance of reaching another semi-final and the legendary Swiss could well be writing another unbelievable chapter in his hall-of-fame career.
Madison Keys (14) vs Ashleigh Barty (8)
In what might be the most evenly contested quarter-final match in the women’s draw, American Madison Keys will face the Aussie Ashleigh Barty. Keys has once again shown her best level on the Grand Slam stage and will be looking to go one better than when she lost to Sloane Stephens in the US Open final.
Keys dispatched Katerina Siniakova in the previous round and will be confident in doing the same to Barty.
The Australian has been in imperious form herself so far, only dropping one set in the entire tournament, against Sofia Kenin. Barty has not reached the latter stages of Grand Slams before and this year has provided her with an opportunity to solidify herself as one of the top women on the WTA tour.
However, with Keys’ greater experience in the latter stages of Grand Slams, being a semi-finalist here last year, she should be favoured to grab a tight victory.
Sloane Stephens (7) vs Johanna Konta (26)
Two players who were not in great form before the tournament were Sloane Stephens and Johanna Konta.
The Brit, in particular, had never gone beyond the first round here and, despire recent success on clay in Rome, wasn’t fancied to repeat her success here. Stephens is a great talent and has long been seen as a potential heir to the throne of the Williams sisters but has been blighted by a distinct lack of consistency.
However, she did reach the final here 12 months ago and will have been disappointed to lose to the champion Simona Halep. The American has proven herself a competent clay-courter and will be confident that she can go one better than last year’s run.
With that in mind, Konta’s lack of experience at this stage of the tournament means that Stephens should be favoured to reach the last four.
Prediction: 2-0 sets
Marketa Vondrousova vs Petra Martic (31)
In a match that is very difficult to predict, Czech starlet Marketa Vondrousova will face Petra Martic.
Vondrousova has been a revelation at the tournament so far. The 19-year old is yet to drop a set and annihilated the experienced Latvian 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 6-0 in the previous round. Martic will surely provide a tougher test and will certainly have the experience to deal with the occasion.
Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Ostapenko announced themselves at the French Open and if Vondrousova keeps playing with confidence, she could announce herself as the next huge star, especially were she to go all the way.
The Czech is playing with no fear and she should have too much for Martic. It would not be a surprise to see a tightly-contested match over three sets.
Simona Halep (3) vs Amanda Anisimova
Simona Halep was expected to solidify her status as the number one woman in the world after her maiden Grand Slam here last year but it hasn’t gone to plan.
Struggling for her best form, the Romanian arrived at Roland Garros without a title this year. However, she clearly has a love for the Paris court and, despite initially struggling in the first two rounds, she was utterly dominant in the next two. Halep will be gaining confidence with each strong performance and is so far justifying her status as favourite to retain her title.
The teenage Anisimova announced her arrival on the tour with a breakthrough string of performances at the Australian Open in January but has struggled since.
A hugely-talented player with the potential to go to the top, Anisimova seems to relish the biggest stages and has nothing to lose against Halep. The American will still struggle to find consistency in her early years on tour but her game is dangerous and Halep will not be handed an easy passage to the semi-final.
However, the defending champion should have enough to deal with the challenge and move closer to another Roland Garros crown.