French Open 2016: Matches To Watch On Day 5

So we have already finished 96 of the 127 matches that will be played as part of the 2016 French Open Championships and by the end of Thursday, there will be only 32 players still remaining in the fray. There are quite a few of potential “classic” matches that are lined up today and it’s been a tough choice to list out my best matches for the day.

1.  Bernard Tomic (AUS) [20] vs Borna Coric

It was not long ago that Tomic was the exciting youngster that the Tennis Galaxy was looking ahead to. That narrative has now run its course and Borna Coric is one of a group of few who are now wearing carrying the torch for the young brigade in our sport. Attitude wise, and game-wise, these two players have such contrasting styles that this match-up is bound to arouse the interest of one and all.

Tomic is a high IQ tennis players who relies majorly on clever variations of pace and angles to outwit his opponents. Coric on the other hand is a hard-striking baseliner who uses power and weight of shot to maneuver his opponents. Coric is a tough competitor, who has already demonstrated very admirable grit in his few matches on tour. Tomic, well, let’s just say he does not have the most positive attitude towards competition.

Prediction: Coric has all the weapons to get a win over the, relatively, more experienced Tomic. Howerver, I will count on Tomic to keep his head together and pull this match out in 4 sets.

2. David Ferrer (ESP) [11] vs Juan Monaco (ARG)

In a day full of exciting matches, this will most probably be the best match of the day. Ferrer has not had a great start to his year thus far, no thanks to injuries that seem to finally be getting the better of this persistent warrior. Ferrer being Ferrer, has dropped just 3 games in his first round match and seems to be ready for the grind and grit that this surface demands.

In Juan Monaco, he will be facing a guy who had to pay his own dues to the injuries and he has made a good comeback which includes a top 5 win – over Wawrinka at Rome. Monaco, though not as accomplished as Ferrer, is quite comfortable on the red dirt and on his day, can pose some questions to the toughest of them

Prediction: Monaco will have to ensure he brings his very best from the moment the ball is in play, as we all know Ferrer will be. I am thinking he will and give us a memorable 5 setter that David Ferrer will win to advance to the next round.

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3. Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Steve Darcis (BEL)

Why is this on the matches to watch list? Quite simply because you should be following the World No.1’s quest to a personal slam, something that will give him the four slams – a feat that no man has achieved in nearly 50 years. Darcis is unlikely to pose a lot of problems to Djokovic as he pursues his goal relentlessly, but remember Darcis once scored a win over a 12 time slam champion a few years ago. (Rafael Nadal at 2013 Wimbledon)

This match is mostly about Djokovic and whether he will show any vulnerabilities as he starts moving into the thick of things in the French Capital. He started shakily against Lu in his first round, but to his credit, he closed out the match on much better terms.

Prediction: Watch the match to be part of the historical quest Djokovic is embarking on. If Darcis can red line his game, he might trouble the No.1 for a set, but expect Djokovic to keep things simple and win this in 3.

4. Paul Henri Mathieu (FRA) vs Robert Bautista Agut (ESP) [14]

Paul Henri Mathieu was involved in a very good match against a Spaniard with zero French Opens and zero Grandslams, 11 years ago. That Spaniard now has 14 Grandslams including 9 French Opens. In his latest classic, the Frenchman came through a 5 setter against Santiago Giraldo of Columbia. Mathieu, who like many French players, has not lived upto the great expectations of his countrymen and tennis fans, has had his share of memorable battles at his home slam.

Bautista Agut does not play the typical Spanish tennis game with a super heavy top spin forehand and a big first serve. Agut hits the ball much more flat and his game is more suited to the hard courts than clay, however his competitive attitude transcends all surfaces and one can expect a classic battle between a local veteran and a great competitor, who always turns up for a match.

Prediction: It is going to be tough ask for Mathieu to recover from his 5 set marathon the other day, but I will take a risk and pick him over the ever consistent Agut in 4 sets.

5. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) vs Jo Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [6]

This is the 5th match in our list and there are atleast another 5 that could easily have made this list. Getting back to the list, this is a showdown of two former Australian Open finalists. Both of them have tremendous game and one of the few guys who are loved all over the world by tennis fans for their flashy shot making and a great crowd friendly attitude.

This match, one can safely assume, Tsonga will have the greater support from the crowd, as this is his home slam, but there will be a lot of tennis fans (including French supporters) who will be hoping that the Cypriot brings his best game to Phillippe Chatrier, today.  Tsonga leads their H2H 5 to 1 including an entertaining 4 setter at the Australian Open this year. The crowds at Roland Garros and tennis fans worldwide would be hoping for a similarly fun match today.

Prediction: With all the flair and flashy game on display, this should be a great match to watch irrespective of the result. Tsonga has the head to head and the crowd behind him, so I will take the Frenchman in 4 fun sets.

Prakash Potukuchi [ Prakash is the founder of Sportz Cosmos. He tweets here.]

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