Defending champion Rafael Nadal and Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro have struck championship winning form as both advanced into the third round of the French Open in Paris after comfortable straight sets wins on Day 5.
Lucas Pouille, the top ranked Frenchman and Dominic Thiem of Austria duly completed their second round matches in four sets which were suspended on Wednesday in fading light with both leading by 2-1 in sets. Marin Cilic, John Isner and the South African Kevin Anderson also reached the round of 32.
The top ranked Nadal, who had lost only 35 games last year enroute to his record 10th title on Red Clay in Paris, was in devastating form against the hapless Guido Pella of Argentina just a day after he was tested by the lucky loser Simone Bolelli of Italy in the first round.
From 2-2 in the first set, the Spaniard took the next sixteen games out of eighteen to emerge a 6-2,6-1,6-1 winner. He now faces the 27th seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round who defeated the Tu
Del Potro, the winner of the Indian Wells Master’s title this year entered the tournament with a cloud behind his appearance after he was forced to retire against the Belgian David Goffin in Rome.
The Argentine was up against the French veteran Julien Benneteau who was making his last appearance in his country. The 36 year old Benneteau fought gamely but lost inevitably 6-4,6-3,6-2 against the Tower of Tandil who now goes on to play another Spanish left hander Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The 31st seeded Ramos-Vinolas was a 6-4,6-2,6-4 winner over Casper Ruud of Norway.
Earlier on in the day Marin Cilic, the 014 U.S. Open champion played brilliantly in the first two sets but was made to fight for his 6-2,6-2,6-7(3),7-5 win over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz. The Austrian Dominic Thiem completed a 6-2,2-6,6-4,6-4 win over the 18 year old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, while the 15th seeded Lucas Pouille delighted home fans as he took out the Briton Cameron Norrie 6-2,6-4,5-7,7-6(3) on court Phillip Chattrier. The Argentine Diego Schwartzman dropped just five games in dispatching Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic 6-1,6-3,6-1.
The sixth seeded Kevin Anderson was made to fight hard by the Argentina born Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, but prevailed 6-3,3-6,7-6(5),6-4. Another big server John Isner of the U.S., seeded ninth, defeated yet another Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-7(8),7-6(4),7-6(2),6-2 in two hours and 50 minutes.
In what was a minor upset, Denis Shapovalov of Canada, seeded 24th, was upset by the little known German Maximilian Marterer 5-7,7-6(4),7-5,6-4. The fiery Italian Fabio Fognini beat Sweden’s Elias Ymer, a qualifier ranked 122nd in the world, 6-4,6-1,6-2. Other winners include the American Steve Johnson, Jurgen Zopp of Estonia, Kyle Edmund of Brittain, the elder Zverev sibling Mischa Zverev of Germany and Borna Coric of Croatia.
In an all French affair, Pierre Hugues Herbert took out Jeremy Chardy in a marathon five set encounter, just a day after Chardy had taken five sets to upset the Czech Republic’s fading Tomas Berdych. In a match lasting three hours and twenty seven minutes, Hugues Herbert prevailed 2-6,6-3,6-2,3-6,9-7 and now faces John Isner in the third
It was an action packed day in the ladies section of the draw as three former champions Serena Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova all advanced slongwith the top seeded Simona Halep of Romania.
Serena Williams, a three time champion, back after long layoff due to maternity leave, took three sets to beat the Australian Ashley Barty 3-6,6-3,6-4. Sharapova accounted for Donna Vekic 7-5,6-4, Halep beat the American Taylor Townsend 6-3,6-1.
The 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza beat the Italian Fiona Ferro 6-4,6-3. The former world number one Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced with a 6-2,6-3 won over the Romanian Ana Bogdan.
Other players to progress were Juliana Gorges and Andrea Petkovic of Germany, Caroline Garcia of France, Kiki Bertens of Holland, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, Elise Merterns of Belgium, Australians Daria Gavrilova and Samantha Stosur and Magdalena Rybarikova of the Slovak Republic.
The seeds to exit were Shuai Zhang of China who lost to Irina Camelia Begu of Romania 3-6,4-6, while Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S.A. lost to the Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-3,4-6,0-6.
Following is the list of matches to be played on Day 6 in the third round of the men’s draw with my pick mentioned first :-
Alexander Zverev (2) v. Damir Dzumhur (26)
Lucas Pouille (15) v. Karen Khachanov (-)
Kei Nishikori (19) v. Giles Simon (-)
Dominic Thiem (7) v. Matteo Berrettini (-)
Grigor Dimitrov (4) v. Fernando Verdasco (30)
Novak Djokovic (20) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (13)
David Goffin (8) v. Gael Monfils (32)
Pablo Carreno Busta (10) v. Marco Cecchinato (-)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]