French Open 2016: Matches To Watch On Day 6

The bottom half of the draw has been the more exciting of the two halves, thus far and things are only about to get much turbulent. This half of the draw features the world No 2 Andy Murray, the ace machine from Croatia Ivo Karlovic, the Russian “Tsunami” Teymuraz Gabashvili, the tennis’ marathon man John Isner, the French with the picturesque single-handed backhand Richard Gasquet,  the temperamental but talented Australian Nick Kyrgios (the youngest in this part of the draw), the offensive baseliner from Spain Fernando Verdasco.

Also in action today are the 5th seed from Japan, known to be the best for his return of serves, Kei Nishikori, the defending champion from Switzerland Stan Wawrinka, another local favorite who was a former world number 6 Gilles Simon, another American, who has tasted success in doubles,  Jack Sock and the real deal from Canada Milos Raonic. The crowd can expect to see some fantastic live tennis , on Day 6, on the courts of Roland Garros. The matches that are a must watch for a tennis fan are listed below.

1. Andy Murray [2] vs Ivo Karlovic [27]

These 2 have played the most number of games en route to the third round. They must be physically drained but they will have to make sure ready they are ready for another  best of 5 setter to make it to the next round. Ivo Karlovic is a natural serve and volleyer and his biggest weapon is his serve, with the all time record number of aces – 10,696 and counting.

Andy Murray, who has had a bit of an unusual start with a back-to-back five-set matches, might want to know that the last time a Roland Garros champion was pushed to five sets in his opening two rounds was Gaston Gaudio in 2004.

This match can go a long distance if Murray fails to show up on his return of serve and does not have much success breaking Karlovic. A couple of tie breaks is on the cards and its going to be a mouth-watering clash to see one of the best serves of all time pitted against one of the best returners of all time.

Prediction: Although Karlovic is going to test Murray with his monstrous aces, the Brit has won all of their previous meetings. Its going to be Murray in 4 sets.


2. Richard Gasquet [9] vs Nick Kyrgios [17]

This match has everything going for it, to be the most entertaining encounter of the day. Both Kyrgios and Gasquet have eased past their previous two rounds and tennis fans would be eagerly awaiting their meetup – again. We definitely remember the 2014 Wimbledon 2nd round clash between these two which markedly defined the arrival of Kyrgios.

As always, Kyrgios needs to be keep his cool and concentrate on his gifted shot-making. His serves have been a huge factor in the first couple of rounds and should continue to be so again. Gasquet avenged his aforementioned loss in the 2015 Wimbledon and leads 4-2 in the H2H. As tennis fans around the globe are aware, Gasquet is an all-court player with one of the best single-handed backhand in the game and he will need to bring his entire repertoire today to stop the immensely talented Australian.

The match can swing in either direction as it progresses and nothing is a guarantee  till the last ball is struck (refer to the 2 Wimbledon matches between these two). It has all the ingredients to go the distance and if it does then Kyrgios, as temperamental as he is, is the one to be banked on. Irrespective of the result, this will be one of the matches to look forward to given the supreme set of tennis skills these gifted athletes bring to the court.

Prediction: If Kyrgios can maintain his ongoing form, it can be the end of the road for Gasquet. However, the crowd will be firmly with Gasquet which is a big advantage and he needs to play his A game to put things across the Australian No.1 . Kyrgios to win in 5 sets.

3. Kei Nishikori [5] vs Fernando Verdasco

One thing is for certain – both these have proved to be offensive baseliners and can play long extended rallies. Nishikori has matured under the guidance of Michael Chang who has been influential in making him dominate and control the points more effectively from baseline.

The Japanese No.1 can hit winners off  both wings and take time away from his opponent with his innate ability to take the ball on the rise. Although unseeded this year, Verdasco can’t be taken lightly as he has the ability to beat the top seeds as we have witnessed earlier this year, with his stunning victory against Rafael Nadal in the first round of AO 2016.

Nishikori seems to be in great form this clay court season and unlike other top players in this half has had a smooth journey thus far. He has been really consistent and has won a lot of matches coming into the French open. Verdasco hasn’t been in the best of his form on the red dirt and hasn’t had the record to match Nishikori’s this season, however he is here and he will be wanting to make it count.

Prediction: It should be a well fought match with some serious power hitting from both sides but Nishikori should win in straight but very hard fought sets.

-Rishab Rajan is an analyst for the Tennis Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. You can reach him at the gmail id : sportzcosmos.


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