The BIG FOUR of tennis Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have booked their places in the quarter-final of the French Open as the defending ladies champion Maria Sharapova was bundled out by Lucie Safarova on Day 9 at the Roland Garros in Paris. While Djokovic, who is bidding to become the eighth male player to complete the career slam has still to drop a set in four matches, the 2009 champion Federer who is bidding to complete a second career slam and Rafael Nadal who is bidding for an unprecedented tenth French crown, both dropped their first set of the tournament.
Andy Murray, like Novak Djokovic, extended his unbeaten run on European clay to 14 matches in 2015 and set up a clash against the 2013 runner up David Ferrer of Spain who knocked out the reigning U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-2,6-2,6-4 in a match which was played on outside courts to catch up with the rain hit schedule which curtailed play on the second Sunday of the 15 day long event. Nadal faces Djokovic in the other blockbuster quarter-final on June 3rd when he turns 30.
Roger Federer resumed his battle against the Frenchman Gael Monfils which was tied at one set apiece overnight and promptly broke serve in the opening game despite trailing 40-0 on the Monfils serve. He failed to convert three break points which would have given him a double break and had to save a break point at 4-3 with a service winner. He wrapped up the third set 6-4 and then broke serve three times in the fourth set, winning it 6-1 as the Frenchman seemed fatigued after having to come from behind in two five setters in the previous rounds. Monfils has a 10-1 record in five set matches in Paris.
Nadal appeared to be sailing against the American Jack Sock after taking a two set lead but dropped serve thrice in the third set before eventually winning 6-2,6-1,5-7,6-2. The other remaining French hopes Richard Gasquet was blown off court by Djokovic while Andy Murray needed four sets to tame the stylish Jeremy Chardy.
The quarter-final to be played on Day 10 in the men’s section with my pick mentioned first :-
Kei Nishikori (5) (34-7) v. Jo Wilfred Tsonga (14) (10-5); Nishikori leads Tsonga 4-2
Roger Federer (2) (29-5) v. Stanislas Wawrinka (8) (26-8) ; Federer leads Wawrinka 16-2.
In the women’s section the 2012 & 2014 champion Maria Sharapova of Russia was upset by Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 7-6(3), 6-4 and the world number one Serena Williams almost joined her on the sidelines as she rallied after dropping the first set to fellow American Sloane Stephens before winning 1-6,7-5,6-3. The Spaniard Garbine Muguruza advanced with a straight set win over Italy’s Flavia Penetta. There were better fortunes for the other Italian and former finalist Sara Errani who took out the German Julia Goerges. The Belgian Allison Van Uytvanck was too strong for the Romanian Andreea Mittu.
The line-up for the women’s singles quarter-final is as under :-
Serena Williams v. Sara Errani
Timea Bacsinszky v. Allison Van Uytcanck
Ana Ivanovic v. Elina Svitolina
Lucie Safarova v. Garbine Muruguza.
The upset bug in the women’s singles also did not spare the reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova as she was knocked out by the Swiss Timea Bacsinszky who rallied after dropping the first set 2-6 but came back strongly to claim the next two 6-0,6-3.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]