Defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia and nine time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain, the two favourites for the title have stayed on course for a semi final showdown after registering identical 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 wins in the second round on Wednesday against Joao Sousa of Portugal and Robin Haase of Netherlands respectively at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris.
Nadal, winner of three titles on clay, in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, leading to the French Open, looked in ominous form against the Dutchman on court Philippe Chatrier, while Djokovic was equally dominant against Sousa on court Suzanne Lenglen.
The other contenders in the strong bottom half of the draw also progressed serenely. The Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem routed the Italian Simone Bolelli 7-5, 6-1, 6-3; while Milos Raonic of Canada, seeded fifth, came from a set down to beat the Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
Other winners on Day four included the Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov, the 11th seed beat the former top ten player Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 7-5; while the tenth seeded David Goffin of Belgium defeated the Russian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
They have been joined by the Spaniards Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Roberto Bautista Agut, Guillermo Garcia Lopez and Pablo Carreno Busta, Jiri Vesley of the Czech Republic, American Steve Johnson, Argentine Diego Schwartzman and the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Another Argentine Renzo Olivio took only one game to complete the upset of the highest ranked Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga to advance to the second round. The match had been suspended due to bad light on Tuesday, but the 91st ranked Argentine was not be denied as he beat the 12th seeded Tsonga 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 on court Philippe Chatrier.
However the talented 16th seeded Lucas Pouille enthralled the partisan crowd as he saved three set points in the opening set to come through 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-2. The lone upset of the day was the exit of the 38 year Ivo Karlovic of Croatia who was beaten by the Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-7(5), 6-7(5), 3-6.
The following is the line up for Day Five in the second round of the men’s draw with my pick mentioned first:-
Stanislas Wawrinka (3) v. Alexandr Dolgopolov (-)
Andy Murray (1) v. Martin Klizan (-)
Richard Gasquet (24) v. Victor Estrella Burgos (-)
Marin Cilic (7) v. Konstantin Kravchuk (-)
Kei Nishikori (8) v. Jeremy Chardy (-)
Juan Martin Del Potro (29) v.Nicolas Almagro (-)
Fernando Verdasco (-) v. Pierre-Hugues Herbert(-)
David Ferrer (30) v. Feliciano Lopez (-)
Nick Kyrgios (18) v. Kevin Anderson (-)
Tomas Berdych (13) v. Karen Khachanov (-)
Kyle Edmund (-) v. Renzo Olivio (-)
John Isner (21) v. Paolo Lorenzi (-)
Denis Istomin (-) v. Hyeon Chung (-)
Pablo Cuevas (22) v. Nicolas Kicker (-)
Fabio Fognini (28) v. Andreas Seppi (-)
Gael Monfils (15) v. Thiago Monteiro (-)
The line up in the bottom section for the third round to be played on Friday is as under with my pick mentioned first :-
Novak Djokovic (2) v. Diego Schwartzman (-)
Lucas Pouille (16) v. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (-)
David Goffin (10) v. Horacio Zeballos (-)
Dominic Thiem (6) v. Steve Johnson (25)
Rafael Nadal (4) v. Nikoloz Basilashvili (-)
Jiri Vesley (-) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (17)
Grigor Dmitrov (11) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (20)
Milos Raonic (5) v. Guillermo Garcia Lopez (-)
The defending champion in the women’s section of the draw, fourth seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain came from behind after dropping the first set to the Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. There were wins for the tenth seeded American veteran Venus Williams, Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, the 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and the 2010 runner up Samantha Stosur of Australia.
In a big first for the Africa region, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia beat the sixth seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3 to become the first woman from Tunisia to advance to the third round. There was disappointment too for the two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova who lost in two tie-breaks to the American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, while another American Catherine Bellis took out Kiki Bertens of Holland 6-3, 7-6(5).
The Belgian Elise Mertens, Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, the Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, American Shelby Rogers and Shuai Zheng of China were among the winners of the day. The Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig of Puerto Rico was beaten by the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 3-6, 2-6.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]