2020 French Open: Review Of The Pre-Quarter Finals

The US Open champion Dominic Thiem survived a big scare and a deluge of drop shots as he ended the aspirations of the 20-year-old wildcard and local favourite Hugo Gaston in what was one of the most entertaining matches at this year’s Open. The third seeded Austrian, a runner up in Paris in the last two years edition, won 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and 32 minutes and becomes only the eighth man in the history of the tournament to enter the last eight for the fifth consecutive year. He next faces the Argentine Diego Schwartzman who ended the run of the Italian Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets at Suzanne Lenglen.

Earlier in in the day, the 12-time champion Rafael Nadal cruised to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 win over the American Sebastian Korda in the opening match on Sunday and kept alive his hopes of equalling Roger Federer’s tally of twenty grand slam titles. The 20-year-old qualifier Korda, ranked a lowly 213th in the world and son of former Paris finalist in 1992, was facing his childhood idol and seemed overawed by the occasion. Nadal next faces the 19-year-old Jannik Sinner of Italy, who defeated the sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Sinner had not dropped a set in three previous matches and becomes the first player since Nadal to reach the quarter final on his first appearance at the French Open. Zverev, the runner up at the US Open in New York, seemed to have little fight in him as he had a fever the night before the match. There were mixed fortunes for Italy as the 12th-seeded Diego Schwartzman proved too strong for Lorenzo Sonego as he advanced with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win on Sunday.

The 13th-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev, winner of the Hamburg Open, also advanced to the last eight for the first time since 2017 after a hard fought 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(3) win in just under four hours against the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics on Monday. Fucsovics had service breaks and leads in all the first three sets as the temperamental Russian rallied from a set and 2-5 deficit to advance. He next faces the fifth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, who became the first Greek player to reach the last eight in Paris after a 6-3,7-6(9),6-2 win in two hours and 26 minutes. Dimitrov had two set points in the second set tie-break and Tsitsipas clinched the tie-break on his third opportunity when the 29-year-old Dimitrov missed a pick up at the net. The third set was all one-way traffic as Tsitsipas, the winner of the season ending finale in London last year broke twice.

The top-seeded Novak Djokovic continued his devastating form with yet another straight-sets win over the 15th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 on court Philippe Chatrier on Tuesday and keeps alive his hopes of becoming the only player in Open Era to win all four grand slams at least twice. The 2016 champion is also bidding for his 18th major title and next faces the Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in a repeat of the US Open fourth round match which ended in a disqualification for the world number one who accidentally hit a lineswoman after dropping serve to trail 5-6 in the first set. Carreno Busta, a quarter finalist in 2017, seeded 17th had few problems in his match against the German qualifier Daniel Altmaier in s match that was moved under the roof on court Philippe Chatrier from Suzanne Lenglen arena as rain called off proceedings on other courts at Roland Garros. Busta triumphed 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 against the 176th ranked qualifier from Germany.

Thiem, who had not dropped a set in three matches against Marin Cilic, Jack Sock and Casper Ruud, looked set for another routine straight sets win on court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday evening against the 239th ranked left-handed Gaston, who had entered the tournament without a tour level win. Buoyed by the crowd he managed to break Thiem’s serve in the 12th game and despite an early exchange of service breaks in the fourth set, the Frenchman forced a decisive fifth set. Thiem got the all-important break in the eighth game as Gaston missed a drop shot. Thiem had to save one break point before serving out the match in the ninth game.

The following is the line-up for the quarter final will my pick mentioned first:

Novak Djokovic (1) vs Pablo Carreno Busta (17) Djokovic leads 3-0
Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs Andrey Rublev (13) Rublev leads 2-1
Dominic Thiem (3) vs Diego Schwartzman (12) Thiem leads 6-2
Rafael Nadal (2) vs Jannik Sinner first meeting

In the women’s section of the draw, the tournament favourite Simone Halep of Romania was bundled out of the tournament after she crashed to a stunning 6-1, 6-2 loss to Poland’s Iga Swiatek in the opening match on Sunday. She faces the Italian Martina Trevisan who beat the fifth seeded Kiki Bertens of Netherlands 6-4, 6-4. The third seeded Elina Svitolina beat the French woman Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-3. Svitolina, the highest ranked player left in the draw faces the Argentine Nadia Podoroska who overcame Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

On Monday, the Australian Open champion, Sophia Kenin, seeded fourth, came from behind to beat another Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. She awaits the winner of the match of the match between Ons Jabeur and Danielle Rose Collins which will now be played on Tuesday as play was called off on outside courts on Monday. The other winners on Monday were the two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over China’s Shuai Zheng. She plays the German Laura Siegemund who took out the Spaniard Paula Badosa 7-5, 6-2.

– 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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