The 2009 champion Roger Federer survived a dramatic three hour thirty nine minute battle to outlast the 59 ranked Dominik Koepfer to enter the round of sixteen in Paris for the fifteenth time and extended his record to 68 round of sixteen appearances in all grand slam tournaments. Federer survived three dramatic tie-breaks winning 7-6(5),6-7(3),7-6(4),7-5 to set up a meeting with the ninth seeded Matteo Berretini of Italy.
In what was his first ever appearance in the night session in Paris, the Swiss maestro played his first ever match in front of empty stands and it was evident that the German would live upto his pre match comments of giving Federer a huge fight in what was their first ever meeting between the two. Federer failed to convert six break point chances in the opening set but aided by a double fault from Koepfer in the tie-break the Swiss took the opening set 7-5 in the breaker. He would then get an early break, but Koepfer would break back in fourth game and before the pair traded one more service break the German easily took the second set tie-break 7-3 to level the match.
Riding the momentum Koepfer broke Federer in the opening game before the 20 time grand slam champion broke serve in the eighth game against the run of play as the German crumbled in the crucial moments of the match. In the inevitable tie-break that followed the Swiss overcame an early minor break to prevail 7-4. In the fourth set Federer got an early break but then failed to take advantage of a point penalty which the German was docked due to unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth game. Federer then raised his level to break the German in the eleventh game before serving out the match. The last time Federer lost to a lowly ranked player at Roland Garros was in 2003, where he lost to the 88th ranked Luis Horna in the opening round.
While the 39 year old Federer struggled on Day Seven, it was virtually smooth sailing for the top seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia and the third seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal who is looking for an astounding 14th title in Paris. Djokovic, the 2016 champion, kept alive his hopes of becoming the only player to win all four grand slams atleast twice after a 6-1,6-4,6-1 win over Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania on court Phillippe Chatrier. Nadal, who was relegated to Court Suzanne Lenglen, faced only brief opposition from gritty Cameron Norrie of England as he prevailed 6-3,6-3,6-3. Nadal who is now 103-2 all time at the Open, is now only the third player to enter the round of sixteen 50 times at a major, joining Federer (68) and Djokovic (54).
Federer’s next opponent Matteo Berretini beat the South Korean Soonwoo Kwon in a late evening match 7-6(3),6-3,6-4 to enter the last Sixteen for the first time in Paris against the last remaining Asian player in the tournament. Djokovic and Nadal will now square off against Italian teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner respectively. Musetti, overcame the 2018 semi finalist Marco Cecchinato, in yet another all Italian encounter to win 3-6,6-4,6-3,3-6,6-3. Sinner, who needed five sets in his opening round match against the Frenchman Pierre Hugues-Herbert saving a match point in the fourth set, had an easy 6-1,7-5,6-3 win over Mikael Ymer of Sweden.
The two remaining winners on Day Seven were the 10th seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman, a 6-4,6-2,6-1 winner over the 37 year old German Phillip Kohlschreiber. He next faces another German Jan-Lennard Struff, a 6-4,7-6(3),6-2 winner over the 18 year old Spanish qualifier Carlos Alcaraz.
[6/6, 2:01 AM] Rasesh Mehta: In the bottom half of the draw, the second seeded Daniil Medvedev who had not won a match in three previous visits to the French Capital, made it three wins in a row as he breezed past the giant 32nd seeded American Reilly Opelka, 6-4,6-2,6-4. Next up is the Chilean Christian Garin, seeded 22nd, a 6-1,5-7,6-2,6-2 winner over another American Marcos Giron. In what was a terrible day for the Americans, John Isner, seeded 31st, faded miserably in the fourth set against the fifth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in a night match on Friday. Tsitsipas, a semi finalist last year, and a winner in Monte Carlo and Lyon, continued his impressive run as he came from behind to win 5-7,6-3,7-6(3),7-1 to book a meeting with the Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta who breezed past another American Steve Johnson 6-4,6-4,6-2.
The Madrid champion Alexander Zverev of Germany was the first player to reach the fourth round as he took out the Serb Laslo Djere 6-2,7-5,6-2 and now faces the Olympic bronze medalist Kei Nishikori who advanced after his opponent Henri Laaksonen, a qualifier from Switzerland retired after dropping the opening set 5-7.
In what were two minor upsets in the remaining matches on Friday, the Argentine Federico Delbonis was a surprisingly easy 6-4,6-1,6-3 winner over the listless 27th seeded Italian Fabio Fognini. The left handed Argentine next faces the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who beat the in form Casper Ruud, the 15th seed from Norway. The Spaniard took more than four and a half hours to triumph 7-6(3),2-6,7-6(6),0-6,7-5 to enter the last Sixteen of a grand slam for the first time in his career.
Following is the line up in the Round of Sixteen with my pick mentioned first:-
Alexander Zverev (6) v. Kei Nishikori (-)
Federico Delbonis (-) v. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (-)
Daniil Medvedev (2) v. Christian Garin (22)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (12)
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Lorenzo Musetti (-)
Matteo Berretini (9) v. Roger Federer (8)
Rafael Nadal (3) v. Jannik Sinner (18)
Diego Schwartzman (10) v. Jan-Lennard Struff (-)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]