Defending champion Novak Djokovic and nine time champion Rafael Nadal are within only one match of a semi final showdown in the French Capital after both completed comprehensive straight sets wins over there Spanish rivals on Sunday. Nadal, who has only lost 20 games in four matches this year beat compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut in routine fashion 6-1, 6-2, 6-2; Djokovic came back from an early break of serve to beat the in form Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-3.
Nadal, winner of the title from 2005-2008 and then 2010-2014, has firmly established himself as the hot favourite to lift an unprecedented tenth title on Sunday. He is 21-1 this year on clay, having won titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, his only blemish was the loss in the Rome quarter final to the Austrian Dominic Thiem who also had a convincing 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win over the last remaining Argentine Horacio Zeballos.
Next up for Nadal will be the 20th seeded fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta who reached his maiden grand slam quartet final after beating the fifth seeded Milos Raonic of Canada in what was probably the best match of the tournament so far lasting four hours and seventeen minutes, Busta won 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(8), 6-4, 8-6. The Spaniard failed to close out the match at 5-4 in the final set but was not to be denied in the fourteenth game. Djokovic will play Thiem in the other quarter final on Tuesday.
Three matches which were suspended due to rain on Saturday were completed. In an all French match up, Richard Gasquet had to concede his round of 16 match to Gael Monfils, trailing 3-4 in the third set on court Philippe Chatrier owing to a recurring hip injury. The pair had split the first two sets.
The Russian Karen Khachanov took out the last remaining American in the men’s draw, the 21st seeded John Isner 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(3). The eighth seeded Kei Nishikori barely survived against the South Korean Hyeon Chung. Match resumed with Chung up 3-0 in the fourth set but trailing 1-2 in sets, the Korean wasted little time in bageling Nishikori in the fourth set. The 27 year old from Japan, got the early break in the fifth set but failed to close out the match serving at 5-3. He broke in the next game to set up a quarter final against the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
Following is the line up of matches in the fourth round in the men’s section with my pick mentioned first:-
Andy Murray (1) v. Karen Khachanov (-)
Fernando Verdasco (-) v. Kei Nishikori (8)
Stanislas Wawrinka (3) v. Gael Monfils (15)
Marin Cilic (7) v. Kevin Anderson (-)
Following is the quarter final line up on Tuesday with my pick mentioned first:-
Dominic Thiem (6) v. Novak Djokovic (2)
Rafael Nadal (4) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (20).
There will be a maiden grand slam winner in the ladies section of the draw, after an action packed day which saw the exit of four major winners. The Australian Samantha Stosur, winner of the 2011 U.S. Open title, lost to the Latvian Julia Ostapenko 6-2, 2-6, 4-6. Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat the 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
The local favourite Kristina Mladenovic ended the hopes of the defending champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain as she won 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The only Swiss player remaining in the women’s draw Timea Bacsinszky beat the eight time grand slam winner Venus Williams for the third consecutive year in Paris. The 36 year old Venus, who has never won in Paris, rallied from 1-5 down in the first set to claim the next six games and won the first set 7-5. It was all she could offer as Bacsinszky regrouped to win 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.
In thee four remaining third round matches , the fifth seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine beat Poland’s Magda Linette 6-4, 7-5; and next plays the Croat Petra Martic who had a surprisingly easy 6-1,6-1 win over the Latvian Anastasija Sevastova. The second seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic swept past Briton Carina Witthoeft 7-5,6-1 and next faces the Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg who had a hard fought 3-6,7-6(2),6-3 win over Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino.
Following is the line up of matches in the pre quarter finals of women’s draw with my pick mentioned first :-
Simona Halep (3) v. Carla Suarez Navarro (21)
Elina Svitolina (5) v. Petra Martic (-)
Alize Cornet (-) v. Caroline Garcia (28)
Karolina Pliskova (2) v. Veronica Cepede Royg (-)
The following is the quarter final line up for Tuesday with my pick mentioned first :-
Caroline Wozniacki (11) v. Julia Ostapenko (-)
Kristina Mladenovic (13) v. Timea Bacsinszky (30).
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]