All the top Ten seeds have booked their places in the second week of the second grand slam of the year led by the four former champions. There are two unheralded Argentines, a German, one from Japan, former champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and two French men left in the draw.
The top seeded Novak Djokovic, bidding for a second non-calendar slam and the only person in the Open Era to win all four majors twice, had an easy 6-3,6-3,6-2 win over the Italian Salvatore Caruso on Saturday and like Roger Federer is still to drop a set in three rounds. The 2009 champion Federer, seeded third, played Casper Ruud, the son of Christian Ruud of Norway whom he played at the 1999 French Open. Federer won 6-3,6-1,7-6(8) but not before saving set points in the third set tie-break.
He is now within two wins from a semi-final showdown with archrival Rafael Nadal who dropped his first set of the tournament but was untroubled in his 6-1,6-3,4-6,6-3 over the 27th seeded David Goffin of Belgium. The eleven time winner of the French Open, the Spaniard leads the Swiss 23-15 in their head to head meetings having lost their last five matches. Federer’s compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2015 champion won his 500th Tour level match as he won 7-6(5),7-6(4),7-6(8) against the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in a match which was halted overnight on Friday with Wawrinka leading by two sets.
The fourth seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria, last year’s beaten finalist, needed four sets to go past the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-3,4-6,6-2,7-5. The Indian Wells and Barcelona champion, one of the three players to beat Nadal on clay this year next faces the local favourite Gael Monfils who won an all French contest against little known Antoine Hoang, 6-3,6-2,6-3.
Fifth seeded German Alexander Zverev, winner in Geneva last week squandered a two sets lead but recovered to beat the 30th seeded Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-4,6-2,4-6,1-6,6-2 and will face the Monte Carlo winner Fabio Fognini of Italy, a 7-6(5),4-6,6-4,6-1 winner over the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Sixth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas who beat Nadal in Madrid, resumed his match against the Serb Fillip Krajinovic and also looked to be headed for five sets before staving off the gallant Krajinovic 7-5,6-3,6-7(5),7-6(6) and now faces the 2015 champion Stanislas Wawrinka. The winner in Lyon last week, Benoit Paire of France entered the fourth round after his Spanish opponent Pablo Carreno Busta retired with the Frenchman leading 2-1 in sets, 6-2,4-6,7-6(1). Last year’s semi-finalist Juan Martin Del Potro dispatched the last remaining Australian in the draw Jordan Thompson, with a clinically efficient 6-4,6-4,6-0 win on court Simmone Matthieu.
Del Potro has been joined by two other Argentines in the last sixteen. Leonardo Mayer, hero of their lone Davis Cup win in 2016, will next play Roger Federer after completing a 3-6,7-6(3),6-4,7-6(3) win over the French doubles specialist Nicholas Mahut. Juan Ignacio Londero took five sets to get past another Frenchman Corentin Moutet 2-6,6-3,6-4,5-7,6-4.
Two other matches went to the distance and in what was the longest match of the tournament so far, the German Jan-Lennard Struff beat the 13th seeded Borna Coric of Croatia 4-6,6-1,
4-6,7-6(1),11-9. The seventh seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan beat another Serb Laslo Djere, seeded 31st, 6-4,6-7(6),6-3,4-6,8-6 on Friday and next faces the Frenchman Benoit Paire.
The following is the line up for the round of Sixteen with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Jan Lennard Struff (-)
Fabio Fognini (9) v. Alexander Zverev (5)
Dominic Thiem (4) v. Gael Monfils (14)
Juan Martin Del Potro (8) v. Karen Khachanov (10)
Roger Federer (3) v. Leonardo Mayer (-)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) v. Stanislas Wawrinka (24)
Kei Nishikori (7) v. Benoit Paire (-)
Rafael Nadal (2) v. Juan Ignacio Londero (-).
In the ladies section of the draw there were shocking exits for the world number one Naomi Osaka of Japan and the 23 time grand slam champion Serena Williams. The U.S. Open and Australian Open champion Osaka who almost exited in round one was beaten by Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 4-6,2-6, while Williams was beaten by compatriot Sonia Kenin 6-2,7-5 on court Philippe Chatrier. The defending champion Simona Haleps advance with 6-2,6-1 win over the Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko. Former champion Garbine Muguruza also beat the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, seeded ninth 6-3,6-3.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]