Week two of the French Open has been more routine than the lead up tournaments would have suggested. With the exception of Roger Federer, who was dismissed by free swinging Latvian Ernest Gulbis in five thrilling sets (6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3), the other ‘big four’ are into the quarterfinals. While the competition looks stiff and outcomes are never certain, French Open second week predictions are still a fairly straightforward affair.
In the top of the men’s draw defending champion and eight-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal is facing off against his fellow countryman David Ferrer. The Spaniard defeated Nadal in straight sets earlier this year in Monte Carlo, but that match is not as big a factor as it may appear.
Nadal seems to have been hampered by lingering hesitancy after his disappointing final loss against Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open. He appeared to bounce back with a win on clay in Rio de Janeiro, but the stop in South America was hardly on most player’s schedules. The highest ranked player he faced was world number forty Pablo Andujar, who managed to take a set from the King of Clay in the semifinals with a lackluster 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory.
The extra court time seemed to hamper him back on the hard courts, and as the defending champion, Nadal was dismissed early at Indian Wells. Finding his rhythm in Miami, he made it to the final, but ran into his arch nemesis Novak Djokovic who was too much for the left hander.
Meanwhile David Ferrer is doing everything one would expect at the French Open as a solid, consistent baseliner. He has only dropped a single set the entire tournament, to South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, and looks to be in fine form. That loss in Monte Carlo will be a factor however, but having no fear against his good friend, French Open second week predictions will have to include Nadal punishing Ferrer in straight sets as he makes his way into the semifinals for the ninth time.
The other quarter-finalists in the top half of the draw are England’s Andy Murray and French Open home town favorite Gail Monfils. On paper it would appear that Murray is the clear favorite, however the normally flamboyant and detrimentally showboating Frenchman has found a more serious gear to his game. Having left the crowd pleasing and highlight reel attracting antics in the locker room, Monfils seems to have honed a more serious and focused attitude to his native Grand Slam.
Meanwhile Murray has yet to reach a final, never mind win a tournament, since his country pleasing victory at the All England Club last year. Back surgery and other considerations aside, Murray skipped the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 1000 clay court tournament to “rest and prepare the match against Italy,” for the Davis Cup quarterfinal match.
Murray ended up losing in straight sets to Italian rising star Fabio Fognini in his second match, and followed that up with a third round exit in Madrid to Columbia’s Santiago Giraldo. Murray has worked his way into the second week of the French Open, but has struggled, especially against German Philip Kohlschreiber in the third round (3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 12-10). Murray admitted being tired in his next match against the inconsistent left-hander Fernando Verdasco, who simply did not bring his best game to the court. If Monfils can remain serious and focused, French Open second week predictions would include him notching a crowd supported five-set victory over the weary Briton Andy Murray.
On the bottom of the draw Czech Republic’s Thomas Berdych has to get through Federer’s tamer, Ernest Gulbis. While Gulbis certainly is a shot-maker, and seems to be coming into his own as a player, French Open second week predictions consider Berdych to have too much game for the Latvian to handle. Berdych’s comprehensive victory over big serving American John Isner shows he is dialed in and ready for business. Berdych in four sets.
The final quarterfinal match pits rising Canadian hard-hitter Milos Roanic against arguably the most dangerous man in the draw, Novak Djokovic. Their meeting earlier this year in Rome proved to be a thrilling encounter. Roanic proved he could trade blows with the former world number one, and even drew first blood by taking the first set in a tiebreaker. The Serbian would go on to win the match, and the entire tournament, but Roanic has a high tennis IQ and is sure to have learned a lot from that match. With that said, French Open second week predictions still have to include Djokovic winning in four sets.
Commentary by John Benjamin Wilson