2018 French Open: Review Of The Pre-Quarter Finals

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World number One Rafael Nadal has notched up his 900th singles match win of his career as he continues his quest for an unprecedented eleventh title at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. By recording his 83rd clay court victory in 85 matches at the French Open, Nadal joins Jimmy Connors (1,256), Roger Federer (1,149), Ivan Lendl (1,068) and Guillermo Vilas (948).

The Spanish star who celebrated his 32nd birthday yesterday on June 3rd, extended his run of consecutive sets won to 37, as he defeated the 22 year old German Maximillian Marterer on court Phillip Chatrier with a 6-3,6-2,7-6(4) win in two hours and thirty minutes. Apart from a brief spell in the third set when Nadal was down a break, the Spaniard never looked in any trouble as he improved to a 27-2 record for the year which includes three clay court titles this season in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. The 70th ranked Marterer is now 14-11 for the season.

Nadal next goes on to meet the Eleventh seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who rallied from two sets down and a 3-5 deficit in the third set to win 1-6,2-6,7-5,7-6(0),6-2 against the sixth seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa. The diminutive 5ft 7 inch tall Argentine broke serve at 4-5 down in both the third and fourth sets to reach his first quarter final in Paris.

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He lost to Pablo Carreno Busta in the last eight stage at the U.S. Open last year. Nadal leads 5-0 in their career head to head which includes a four set win at the Australia Open this year. The match took three hours and 51 minutes on court Suzanne-Lenglen, Anderson hit 69 winners and was within two points of winning the match when serving at 5-4 in the third set.

Another Argentine, fifth seeded Juan Martin Del Potro had a surprisingly easy 6-4,6-4,6-4 victory over the ninth seeded American John Isner, thus avenging his defeat at Miami Open by Itau this year which the Texan went on to win to claim his maiden Master’s series title of his career. Isner served 12 aces and served 69% first serves in.

Earlier on Sunday, the 2016 champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia played the best tennis since his comeback from elbow injury, as he defeated the veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3,6-4,6-2. Djokovic, winner of twelve grand slam titles in his career next faces the unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato who took advantage of David Goffin’s fatigue from playing two five set matches as he came through 7-5,4-6,6-0,6-3.

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The second seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany won his third consecutive five set match to reach his first career grand slam quarter finals as he clawed his way back against the Russian Karen Khachanov 4-6,7-6(4),2-6,6-3,6-3. Zverev earlier in the tournament had five set wins over Dusan Lajovic of Serbia and Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina. Zverev will play the eighth seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem who after dominating Kei Nishikori of Japan in the first two sets was made to work hard for his 6-2,6-0,5-7,6-4 win on court Phillip Chattrier.

The last player to clinch the eighth spot in quarter finals is the third seeded Croat Marin Cilic who almost squandered a two set lead but finished strongly in his 6-4,6-1,3-6,6-7(4),6-3 win over the eighteenth seeded Italian Fabio Fognini. Cilic had One match point at 5-4 in the fourth set on Fognini’s serve but the Italian served his way out of trouble to force a tie-break and then a decisive fifth set. From 3-3 in the fifth set, Cilic broke serve in the seventh and ninth games clinching his second consecutive quarter final entry in Paris on his second match point.

The following is the line up for the men’s singles last eight with my pick mentioned first:-

Dominic Thiem (7) v. Alexander Zverev (2)
Novak Djokovic (20) v. Marco Cecchinato (-)
Rafael Nadal (1) v. Diego Schwartzman (11)
Juan Martin Del Potro (5) v. Marin Cilic (3).

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The top ranked Simona Halep of Romania was in devastating form as she beat Elise Merterns of Netherlands 6-2,6-1 on court Phillip Chattrier. There was disappointment for the crowd as three time champion Serena Williams withdrew just minutes before her match against the Russian Maria Sharapova owing to a pectoral muscle pull.

Former world number one accounted for the last remaining local hope in both the men’s and women’s singles as she ran away with a 6-2,6-3 win over seventh seeded Caroline Garcia. The 2016 champion, Garbine Muguruza advanced after the Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko retired trailing 0-2 in the first set due to injury.

Earlier on Sunday, the Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark was upset by the Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-7(5),3-6. The U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens won 6-2,6-0 against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. The Ukrainian Yulia Putintseva beat Barbara Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-4,6-3, while another American Madison Keys beat Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-1,6-4. In the quarter finals on Tuesday Keys will play Putintseva, while Stephens will play Kasatkina. The other two quarter finals to be played on Wednesday, Halep plays Kerber and Muguruza plays Sharapova in a match involving the only former champions remaining in the draw.

– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@gmail.com]

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