Roland Garros Round 2 Men's Singles Writeup
Roland Garros : Aviator Adventurer? Or Mythical Dragon? Let's look at the facts.
1) Pokemon named the dragon looking pokemon Garrados (or something like that). Where did they get that idea? hmm
2) If you rearrange the letters in Roland Garros you get Roslan's Dragon, so the real question is was Roslan an aviator? because clearly Roland Garros was not
3) Many people dispute the realness of dragons, but have you ever been to France? If not, I promise you they had dragons
5) Where did people even get the idea for airplanes from? Answer : from dragons. Dragons are notoriously good inventors, ever heard of fire? hoarding wealth? let's be honest, humans are just dragon wannabe's
Here's some tennis :
Djokovic Berankis : Quick standard work from Novak in the first round. No one looks more perfectly effortless than him when he’s in control. Berankis did well to surprise the lackluster Dellien even though clay isn’t his best surface. Dellien will likely be off the tour next year without some major grinding on the challenger tour. This next matchup looked good for a while at the USO but will be a similar result and a faster one on clay. Djokovic in 3.
Galan Sandgren : Cam Norrie and Galan played one of the worst 5-setters you could see if you were betting on either one. Nonstop exchanges of multiple games and no one could really sustain offense. I had thought Galan would run away with this one as he’s such a specialist but Norrie (when he wasn’t making errors) had control here and was the only one who could really change the direction of the ball or serve aces. Just the same scorelines but completely different play in the Sandgren and Hurkacz match. Sandgren hung around in the first set even though Hurkacz was dictating. It appeared fairly obvious that Sandgren’s plan was to hang in rallies and not go for much, hoping for errors. When Hurkacz managed to get broken at the end of the first it began to look like that was a solid strategy.
Sandgren was constantly serving at duece, facing break points in so many service games, and genuinely did not win this match at all. Hurkacz will need time or a new mental approach, because he’s losing matches due to errors, and this is a baaaaaad thing on tour because so many guys strategy when things get tight is to “try hard hope to earn errors”. When you’re known for making them guys try harder, and then you’re in the rare prison of supplying all the offense to a match. Guys like Federer can play 3 sets of offense, most of the tour is going to need to play error-free tennis so that their opponents are forced to at least go for something. Sandgren turned the tide in the 4th and 5th and Hurkacz began facing break points in all his games. The heavy ball Sandgren hits translates to a slightly more annoying pusher style, as he can kinda go for big targets and rely on pace/weight of shot to earn the point.
This next matchup opened at -195 for Sandgren and I tend to disagree. Sandren played an exhausting match but has gone through a number of deep runs at majors before. He’s not mercurial by any means on clay but he’s been working very hard the past few weeks to get his game together. Where Hurkacz has the weapons to really hurt Sandgren, Galan relies more on work ethic and simple consistency to unseat opponents. Barring fatigue, I don’t see Sandgren losing this, and he’ll have ample opportunities to break. His movement isn’t as good as Norrie but his offensive/service game are world’s more reliable. Sandgren in 4.
Garin Polmans : Garin and Kohl played a pretty good match, and Garin’s returning was what really got him over the finish line here. A lot of deep placement kept the times Kohl broke him from becoming a major issue, as he did have his chances. Garin is a player who thrives on flow and the more matches he wins the better he performs. Polmans, well, Polmans partied all over Humbert today. It was one-sided from start to finish, with Humbert just reflecting the ball and Polmans driving it. Fatigue could be a suggestion, but if you look at the guys who came from the ultra-fast courts of Hamburg they all struggled early in their matches. Humbert is not quite the physical talent that Rublev and Tsitsipas are so he wasn’t able to turn the tide, but they all found their timing around the 3rd set. Humbert’s mom is still cool, and he still has a bright future. If you like Polmans’ wacky hat and vivid celebrations on court (he seems almost like he’s about to start awkwardly breakdancing while celebrating/lamenting shots), him notching a win at a major is great for his ranking.
Garin is a better Polmans. I don’t consider Humbert’s demise a total implosion, and Polmans will be involved in this contest, but Garin is a player who usually loses to bigger weapons, and while Polmans moves the ball well he isn’t overwhelming. He can win a set or two because Garin is still in somewhat a daze from Hamburg, but I think Polmans will play Garin into a rhythm and Garin’s precision tend to improve as he strings games together. Garin in 4.
Vesely Khachanov : Vesely is starting to look like himself. Originally the inspiration for some Geico commercials, his transition to tennis has been brilliant, and his serving combined with the fact that he’s a lefty mean his game gives him an edge against most lower-tier players. Khachanov was one of the better comeback stories you’ll ever see in a straight set win. Majchrzak led by a break in every set and just couldn’t keep it together. A hint of future brilliance, but again his biggest issue is not being able to distance himself from his opponents in matches. Once Khachanov buttoned up his errors when he was down a break, it became difficult for Majchrzak to win rallies. I expect something similar in this tie with Vesely.
Vesely’s backhand has been the side that makes errors during neutral rallies, and for a guy who crushes the ball this represents a big target. Vesely will need to serve well to have a shot at this, and while matches between two big hitters tend to never go in straight sets, Khachanov and Garin looks like an inevitability. Khachanov in 4.
Bautista Agut Balasz : I’ve never seen someone look so dominant while getting beaten down. In the first set RBA was broken at love multiple times. Gasquet hit a number of unreal winners down the line with his backhand and worked to earn points with 20 shot rallies over and over. He led 5-2 at one point, but RBA had barely missed a shot to that point, aside from a few backhands into the net. Gasquet was emitting a quality of sweat I recognize as deep deep swampwater, and I know when things are that humid that comebacks are not in the cards. Gasquet lost the 1st set tiebreaker and was just about done. Gasquet is French for something, and while he’s out of the tournament here, he certainly has a neat backhand and a cool name,
Balasz was one of the cheapest and most straightforward options of the day, and Uchiyama never really put up a fight. Balasz has an interesting game and is worth watching, but his tournament is likely over. Gasquet was brilliant in the first set and still only won 9 games. The heavier balls and slower conditions mean RBA has a tough time hitting through the court, but the flipside is it’s very difficult to find points against him. Balasz may confuse him for a while, but errors will come as he forces shots. RBA in 3-4.
Pella Carreño Busta : Busta busta busta, I made you out of clayyyyyy. I know Pella’s name is first but I was just so relaxed watching PCB play his first round. He really comes into a match with a complete gameplan and sticks with it no matter the scoreline. Unpopular opinion : I don’t think he was going to lose in any fewer than 5 sets against Novak in NY. When he’s fresh and not making backhand errors it becomes extremely difficult to beat him, and for a guy whose somewhat regarded as a defensive player he steps into the court and unloads for winners whenever it’s possible. He is what Sandgren is trying to be.
Pella and Caruso played what must have been a depressing match for Caruso fans. Endless rallies, great quality tennis, but no real way for either player to find clean winners. Matches like that are difficult to watch because your neighbor will hear 3 hours of grunting coming from your apt and also because you know a few random points at the end of sets are going to decide things. Pella won those points, and though he was down early breaks he looked like himself for the first time. I’m glad I announced he has a terrible injury; I now know how to summon top play from any opponent.
I don’t know exactly what to expect from this matchup. They’ve traded some wins on hardcourt, but have oddly never played on clay. PCB’s movement/stamina are the biggest differences between him and Caruso, whose game sort of broke down as things progressed. Pella certainly played well, and even in a losing effort he’s going to make you play a ton of balls. The edge has to go to PCB given their recent forms, but his proclivity for going to duece means this could go the distance. PCB in 4-5.
Struff Altmaier : Struff and Tiafoe, or Struffafoe as they’re known from now on, played a pretty good quality match. I once again feel Tiafoe needs better coaching, as he was winning a fair number of the baseline rallies but insisted on playing dropshots. They cost him this match. I don’t know a nice way to outline that winning on tour just isn’t easy. The mental lapses are always going to cost you at a professional level, but Tiafoe has shown great improvements following the tour’s break, and you can’t just summon the type of resolve/focus that Nadal has. It’ll take time.
Altmaier (whose name is super annoying to type) beat Lopez in straight sets but these two pretty much started every service game at 15-40. It wasn’t great, but the conditions were such that Altmaier was able to take deep return positions and frustrate Lopez into forcing offense. A good win, and the comfort level may be a bit higher here against Struff, which should benefit him a great deal. Playing on tour in a major after grinding the challenger tour is something that gives you adrenaline you just don’t need at times, so a bit of comfort is a plus. I see a lot of recent wins for Altmaier but he hasn’t really played someone the caliber of Struff, and Struff’s loss to Coria troubles me but in a 3/5 format and after the good quality rallies him and Tiafoe had, Struff should be able to find an edge here. Struff in 4 or losing because he’s Struff.
Harris Berrettini : Popyrin really struggled on serve at times, and didn’t seem like he’d been playing enough clay leading into this match. Harris seems to get most of his points on tour in the majors, which is interesting for such a young talent. Berretini beat Pospisil like he did something, and there’s not a lot to say about this next matchup. Harris is a great server but lacks consistency. Berretini in 3.
Medvedev Ramos-Vinolas : Oops. The strangest thing about Medvedev’s loss was how early he started complaining about it. Halfway through the first set he was down a break and already fullscale yelling at the sky/his box/local squirrels/some children/the moon/the ocean/a rock/some guy. It reminded me of Novak’s wild frustration early against PCB. These guys shouldn’t be stressing so early in a match, but I think sometimes they know the writing is on the wall and the thought is too much. Fucsovics is not really a household clay name, but he stayed composed and got the job done here. Medvedev just forced shots here over and over, and it’s strange because his serve works fine on clay and his defense is good enough to really grind points.
ARV vs Mannarino on clay is like Mannarino vs ARV on grass. These guys have such specific styles that they really can’t overcome a surface disadvantage. ARV is the sort of test that Medvedev should have been for Fucsovics once he went down a few sets; very solid defensively, doesn’t give you much to work with, and works multiple shots to earn points rather than just hoping for a W. I tend to think Fucs is up to the task, and while the “going to disneyland” notion creeps in after a big win, Fucs has had enough “almost” situations against the top 20 that notching a win won’t change his game. Both should be fresh for this one and it should be a clean, crispy tennis match. Fucsovics in 3-4.
Giron Monteiro : So many matches went to overtime this first round. Both Halys and Giron were up a break in the 5th set, which is a much different feeling from Monteiro’s day. Thiago (which is the coolest name in the draw) added to Basil’s woes, breaking early and often. He just came off a finals appearance at a challenger a week ago and continued his good form. Giron represents a tough test because his speed/forehand are a gamechanger at times, but he’s unlikely to get the job done unless he gets an early lead. Monteiro tends to get out to quick starts and is a brilliant frontrunner. I give Giron a puncher’s chance, but can’t really think of a way he can win unless Monteiro’s backhand completely falls apart. Monteiro in 3-4.
Lajovic Anderson : When I picture these two I always think of them sitting across from each other wearing black turtlenecks and evilly stroking cats. Lajovic had a pretty tough time with Mager, who crushes the ball and is a good indication that Anderson’s hitting (during the rally at least) won’t be too much of an issue. Djere refused to hold serve in this match, and that’s a bad decision to make against a server. They played much of the first stretch of their match in light rain, and Djere seemed visibly upset heading into the break. I would say this was an empty victory for Anderson, but he served well and he at some point, will find his former form since he’s not exactly too old for the tour yet. I feel the same about Nishikori but the question of when is a difficult puzzle if you’re not in his camp.
Being conscious of your biases in assessing matches is a useful tool, and I’m aware that I’d never be backing Anderson in this one with Lajovic in good form. Due to this, Anderson having actually beaten Lajovic on clay two years ago in Madrid makes me think this is going to be closer than I’d normally expect. Anderson at full health gives him a slight nod. Lajovic on a decent run gives it to him here. I wouldn’t bet against Anderson here, but Lajovic in 5.
Davidoch Fokina Rublev : First time watching Mayo and he has a really nice game. Good power, good forehand, pushes the pace well. He was up early in the 1st but once errors crept into his game it slipped away from him. There’s a big key in professional tennis and it’s being able to maintain a level throughout a match, even if it means playing slightly less than your all-out game throughout. Fokina is very solid and very comfortable. He seems like win or lose his expression will remain the same, and that’s more confidence than indifference. Rublev played one of the more difficult first rounds, as anyone who expected Sam Querrey to come out firing that well must have six magic 8-balls hooked up to a super intelligent iguana flying along a slip-and-slide on it’s way to Narnia. Querrey is a scary guy when he serves well and his forehand is a thing of useless beauty. Ruvlev/Tsitsipas/Humbert all seemed like their timing was poor early in the matches and Rublev was the first to turn it around.
Fokina would win the first two sets against the Rublev from the first two sets. There’s no intimidation factor and his backhand/movement are rocksolid which is good since that’s the thing Rublev attacks the most. I think this is a tighter contest than oddsmakers are predicting but Fokina’s ability to hit winners during these baseline rallies is something I think will be absent. Earning errors, fine. Winning neutral exchanges at net, I definitely think so. Finding his way out of baseline rallies without Rublev errors? Idk. Rublev in 4-5.
Shapovalov Carballes Baena : Shap played one of the least inspiring first rounds of the heavy favorites, trading breaks and looking at times like he wouldn’t be able to find the effort to hit through Simon. Simon was happy to move the ball around but really couldn’t find 1st serves at any point in the match. It was not a great match which makes the next round interesting. RCB had some injury concerns for me going in but eclipsed those, beating Steve Johnson 1, 1, 0. For those of you not familiar with tennis, these are not good scores. RCB represents the opposite version of Simon’s game. He is dynamic, has multiple names, and hits with pace. He doesn’t serve aces but he puts his 1st serve in at a good clip, and although Shap should win this matchup almost all the time, his struggles against the pusher style of Simon in the first round make me wonder how much patience/resolve he has left after a month and a half of nonstop tennis. Shapovalov is not the -660 favorite that he is priced at in the books, and I’d avoid this one entirely unless you’re looking at RCB or the over. Shap still did break almost at will, so I’ll give him the slight nod despite his issues holding serve/hitting the ball over the net. (for those of you not familiar with tennis, hitting the ball over the net is often an effective strategy) Shapovalov in 4-5.
Martin Dimitrov : Maybe there’s something about Tuesdays that make me nervous about upsets, but this is an interesting contest. Dimitrov is -700 in this one. I also think he’s playing great ball lately, but that is not the correct line. Dimitrov is a big market and people haven’t heard of Martin so it lands this way. Sousa didn’t particularly do anything wrong in his opener against Martin, except for doing each thing you could do wrong once. He just looks unlucky out there. He’s hitting well at times, but just seems to find an error or unfortunate way to lose the point over and over. Martin, on the other hand, was crushing the ball. He hit clean winners time and time again on Sousa’s second serve, and I think that while he isn’t expected to beat Dimitrov, his ability to generate offense during baseline rallies will give him opportunities in some spots.
Dimitrov rolled Barrere, but he served at duece in a number of games. Barrere is a nice hardcourt player, but really hasn’t won too many matches on clay. It became a perfect situation for Dimitrov, who looks great when things are going well. Martin is the type of player that clay tends to produce; not a dominant guy or a title-winner, but someone who is very comfortable with their game and who isn’t too troubled situationally (similar to what we saw from Munar today competing against Tsitsipas without too much mental duress). If this were 2/3 I’d like Martin. In 3/5 I think Dimitrov will have ample chances to break serve, and so will only lose in 5. Martin in 5.
Milojevic Bedene : Upset of the first round for Milojevic. He hit the ball solid and was proactive about his shot selection, hugging the baseline and taking time away. Krajinovic really never had a chance to breathe in this one and as a player who refuses to move off the baseline, Kraj made a number of errors on the backhand trying to stand his ground. Nothing really new from him, as he’s been great on clay and also struggled at times. Bedene was solid against Rinderknech, who reminds me a bit of Ruusuvuori and may make his way on tour in a year or two. Good groundstrokes, very fluid forehand, and just a bit less experience giving Bedene the edge late in the match.
This is another match where I lean towards the upset, but is the breakdown. Milojevic beat a superior player in Krajinovic, but a less consistent one. Kraj has had his fair share of struggles. Bedene isn’t a threat for deep runs in events, but gets the job done very consistently when he’s “supposed” to win. That’s a big thing on tour, as upsets happen. I did like Milojevic’s pace, and were he playing someone who has a bit more variety in their game, I’d think he had a better shot. Bedene tends to play a very similar game though, and the edge here will be very small. Milojevic elevating his game as the Kraj match progressed rather than barely getting across the finish line indicates to me fatigue wasn’t a factor and that it was just a one-and-done effort. Milojevic in 4-5.
Cuevas Tsitsipas : Haha they put the Uruguayan flag for both, I thought. But it turns out I am a muppet and have much to learn about the world. Many countries enjoy stripey goodness it seems. Cuevas was a bit too good today, negating the over of 35 games even while going to 4 sets. Laaksonen looked ok in the second but Cuevas’ loopy returns saw Henri making error after error. The ball hitting the net with an open court is something that seems to compound struggles on tour, and this was over quickly. The polar opposite of Tsitsipas’ war with Munar, which took forever and featured some of the most skillful exchanges of the first round. Munar is everything you want in a smol one. Unexpected dropshots, clean shots down the line, and the ability to transfer luck if you rub his head. Tsitsipas looked very impatient, and I feel for Munar who really never had a chance to win after Tsitsipas found form, but Stefanos making this comeback is a very good sign. He was drenched in sweat, struggling to put this away, and never really blew up.
Stefanos and Pablo played a week ago and although Cuevas was good, Tsitsipas seemed like he was able to defend the court well enough that Cuevas was only going to get the match with errors. I expect to see something similar here, although Stefanos won’t be able to afford the sort of slow start he made against Munar. Tsitsipas in 4 or Cuevas in 4.
Bublik Sonego : Bublik got the job done, and Monfils left fans wondering if he really wants to be out there fighting any more. Nothing wrong with losing to a great server whose career is on the rise, but Monfils seems like he’s not fully engaged out there, and so as a professional athlete, people are going to ask questions. Sonego and Gomez had a good contest, and while I think Sonego matches up well with Bublik, taking 5 sets with Gomez means Bublik will be able to find breaks of serve. There are likely to be some tiebreakers here, but given Bublik’s ability to serve out Monfils, he’s likely to win them. Bublik in 4.
Albot Fritz : If you read my predictions, you know what’s coming. Albot broke his slump by playing spirited ball again Thompson. It was one of the quicker matches in the first round, lasting just (insert however many minutes it lasted). Fritz Fritz’d it up, almost dropping the ball against qualifier Machac. Considering he barely snuck by, there’s reason to believe this will be a tough contest as well, even with Albot’s struggles. Albot tests his opponents movement, Fritz makes errors on the run. Albot breaks serve at a higher clip than most guys on tour, Fritz is mainly just a server. I think Fritz is the better player here, but I think that the lead will be very important for belief here, since Albot has struggled lately. I think Albot’s movement will be a key on the slower surface, but he’ll need to get off to a quick lead since Fritz (as many servers are) is a very dangerous opponent in a 5th set. Albot in 4.
Gombos Rodionov : Finally a good reliable favorite. I warned readers that Gombos is the Gombosiest, but they didn’t listen. Coric found out the hard way, and honestly there difference in this one was just ballstriking. Coric was moving the ball around looking to present the “you can’t hit through me” challenge, and while this is a good strategy in later rounds, guys really crush the ball in the first round and the pace is much quicker. Gombos almost snagged Cilic in the USO, and didn’t falter here. Rodionov waited as long as possible to get going against Chardy, going down 2 sets and only winning the tiebreaker 8-6. He served for the match in the 5th set 3 times, and had a very lucky day to be playing Chardy. Chardy just couldn’t keep the ball in the court on offense, and will have to earn his points in the indoor season this year.
Rodionov plays a solid game, and being lefty helps, but he lacks big weapons which is why he mostly plays on the challenger tour. Gombos has enough power to be able to dictate here, and Rodionov coming through the qualifier and played 5 long sets will make this an uphill battle. Considering Gombos hit through Coric, the defense is unlikely to phase him. Gombos in 3.
Giustino Schwartzman : Lorenzo Giustino and Corentin Moutet had played the match of the first round by the end of the 2nd set. Moutet was just in unreal form and dictating most of the rallies in this one. Where he suffered was in two patterns. Giustino hit his forehand with height/shape rather than pace into Moutet’s backhand. Once into this pattern the shorter Moutet tended to drive the backhand downward crosscourt and Giustino would execute the same shot. The backhand never broke down but Giustino was able to wear down Moutet’s patience, and he took many opportunities as the match went on to run around his backhand and hit the inside in forehand. Giustino hit this ball crosscourt every time, really not missing often. These are simple exchanges but it’s the same shotpatterns that Djokovic employs against Nadal. What transpired was Giustino’s speed being pitted against Moutet’s arm, and while it looked like Giustino wouldn’t find offense, Moutet’s forehand got more loopy and Giustino found winners crosscourt since he was able to drive the ball more, and Moutet’s backhand lost depth and Giustino was able to catch Moutet with the forehand down the line over and over. If people are looking for the way to beat these lefty patterns this was a great example.
I had hoped Moutet would win, as his offense would be able to trouble Diego a bit more. Schwartzman beat Kecmanovic easily, and Kecmanovic had that “this draw sucks and I’m already thinking about the next tournament” glazed look in his eyes throughout this match. Giustino has to be exhausted at this point, after qualifying and playing an extra 2 sets of tennis in the 5th. Diego is the wrong opponent to try to outlast, and I think unfortunately Giustino will be more error prone here which will drive Moutet insane from wherever he’s watching. Schwartzman in 3.
Wawrinka Koepfer : Mats Wilander’s comment that Murray should leave these wildcards to younger players has some validity, but his presentation is part of what is wrong with social media. If he really had this concern, he could send Murray a message and offer some perspective. Maybe the clay tour isn’t really where Murray needs to play at this point. Posting these “open letters” and private messages as tweets is a really bizarre way to posture and the messages tend to be more about the person writing them than the issue at hand. Now, unfortunately, Mats Wilander (who I have never heard of) is an official douchenozzle in my mind. Unfortunate, but not as unfortunate as Murray/Wawrinka not giving us the classic we were all hoping for. Wawrinka has stumbled so badly recently that him playing his normal solid top 10 clay court tennis was unexpected. Murray’s movement was poor, but most players are going to lose to Wawrinka when he plays well.
Koepfer looked solid against in dispatching Hoang, and there’s something to the idea that this next contest will be tricky for Stan. There’s always the crisp shotmaking and overwhelming power, but Koepfer is not really looking to win the hitting contest anyway, and instead thrives on scrambling rallies and working his opponent’s backhand. The outcome here depends entirely on Wawrinka, as Koepfer is likely to be steady throughout. I expect at least one set to go the German’s way, as he has proven to be an extremely difficult out. Wawrinka in 4-5 but I would avoid backing Stan here if you like dollars, especially since he’ll likely show his level and have a more predictably simple match the next round against Nishioka. With guys who are good for deep runs in tournaments if they’re playing well, it often helps to gather information rather than let that fear of missing out have you backing question marks.
Gaston Nishioka : Lefty fiiiiiiiight! Gaston won the all-French affair pretty comfortably and Nishioka’s quality in his win over FAA was completely ignored. FAA can’t serve! FAA so many errors! Part of this is inconsistency but part of this is Nishioka being a wall and constantly moving his opponent. Gaston will be at a disadvantage here experience-wise but lefty vs lefty is always a difficult task for both, and Nishioka has been a mixed bag on the clay so far this season. Very tough to know how these two will match up, but the pre-match edge has to sit with Nishioka. Nishioka in 4.
Ruud Paul : Pretty simple victories for both of these two, and this will be a great match to watch. Paul has shown he can compete at the top level, but watching him in his doubles match today he didn’t seem to be serving great. His partner Monroe is a great player to watch at net which is why I caught it, and inferences from doubles aren’t the most reliable, but I think Paul will need to avoid long rallies with Ruud, who has been improving every week since the restart. Pretty similar styles at different points in their career. Ruud in 4.
Sock Thiem : Sock had some genuine emotion winning games against Opelka, and it’s nice to see him visibly motivated after his chubby troubles. Thiem looked like there wasn’t much adjustment to clay in the first round, and he was extremely composed/reserved while beating Cilic. Cilic isn’t in great form, but beating him so easily is a real testament to Thiem’s solid position in the top 2-3 players in tennis. Sock’s skill and whippy forehand allow him to match up better against the top tier than the results will indicate, but with Sock’s backhand still a liability this isn’t a spot where Thiem will struggle too much. Thiem in 3 and let the inbox threats begin, he is my pick to win this tournament.
Zverev Herbert : Zverev continued his slow start strong finish method against Novak. Once he locks down the errors he becomes a very tough out and he hits the ball with such reservation during rallies that when he does finally go for a clean winner his opponents almost don’t move. In Serena’s age of dominance she’d often lose the first two games and then break back and her opponents level would fall and Zverev’s slow starts give me the same sort of “accidental or genius” psychological strategic vibes. It’s more likely it’s just tall players start slow. Herbert beat Mmoh, who is somehow a pusher that makes errors. I’d like to see him (Mmoh) go a bit more offensive for a season, as looking to be solid from the baseline just isn’t enough to win on tour.
The Herbert Zverev matchup is an interesting one since Herbert’s game has the things that traditionally would snag a player who starts slow. Herbert is an old-school serve and volley player who is adept at adjusting his strokes to keep the ball in the court. Zverev is a bit too crispy at the moment to expect a bit blowup, but Herbert having a higher caliber of offense than Novak (who plays a bit too straightforward to really beat the mid-top tier guys) gives him a better chance. Zverev in 4.
Londero Cecchinato : Londero flipped the result against Delbonis, who he’d lost in straight sets against in their previous meeting. It’s nice to see him back in the win column, as he plays a very unique game, going for accurate offense and looking to test his opponents speed. If it weren’t for fatigue, I’d think he were a decent favorite. Cecchinato has been great though, and murmurs of his previous French Open run were flying with his snowball beatdown of De Minaur. De Minaur isn’t the best on clay, as many pointed out, but he has some notable wins in his past including PCB, and beating him is never simple. Cecchinato’s power gives him an edge here if Londero is tired. Slower legs will leave more short balls and Cecchinato can really dictate. He’s also fairly deft at using the dropshot which can wear his opponents down. Where I hesitate to just hand him the win is that these new wins have been out of nowhere, and he hasn’t played a real top level player yet. Londero is the first such test, as his claycourt game can threaten all but the top 10-20 guys at the French. No pick here, but if either is able to win this quickly then Zverev is in for a difficult 3rd round.
Paire Coria : Local kumquat Benoit Paire played quite well, beating Kwon in straight sets. There wasn’t a lot of hope for Kwon, and he struggled with his serving throughout. Paire, whose attention span is that of a drunk raccoon, will be a small favorite in his next round against Coria, but Coria is the quintessential villain to beat Paire. Coria lacks offense, but is a venerable wall. The errors Kwon made will be less available, and with Sinner looming in the next round both guys will know this is their last chance to advance. I expect Paire to either find great form here or lose. Finding great form isn’t what I expect, and if Coria is able to earn an early lead this could be over quick. Coria in 4.
Bonzi Sinner : Bonzi played great against Ruusuvuori, and I got that match completely wrong. Sinner’s defeat of Goffin coupled with his 6-2, 6-2 loss to Cilic a week or so ago makes me think Goffin is either a bit injured or just not fully engaged in this clay swing, but Sinner looks great. Sinner in 4.
Kukushkin Martinez : Fognini Fognini’d all over the place. He seemed to hurt his ankle during the 3rd set tiebreaker, and for a guy who lacks a bit of self control he shockingly did not withdraw. This seems to be one of his principles, as he’s finished matches injured before. Good win for Kukushkin, who hung around until he was given the match. Martinez on the other hand went out and earned it, downing the hard hitting Vukic in straight sets.
Martinez and Kukushkin are unlikely to have huge edges against each other. Kukushkin does his best work at majors, but not really on clay, and Martinez is a claycourt expert, but generally earns errors/preys on his opponents inconsistency. I expect long rallies, and I expect Martinez to gradually pull away in this one. Martinez in 5.
Korda Isner : I’m gonna have to be honest. I completely missed Isner’s match. It didn’t seem like Benchetrit was returning much, and Isner is generally the same. That being said, I regret this because Korda played very well in defeating Seppi and I’d like to be more confident about defending his chances here. Korda plays very well at net, and while he’s a bit green, he’s been losing in the qualifiers on tour for a few seasons now. Him starting to win matches now means we can expect a solid performance from him. He’ll have the edge in baseline rallies, and given they’re from the same country, he’ll be somewhat familiar with Isner’s game. This will come down to Korda’s ability to avoid bad service games, and whether Isner’s serve is unreturnable or not. These are question marks, and I’m starting to hate question marks. Not as much as I hate people bouncing the ball between their legs before their serves though. Korda in fourda.
Nishikori Travaglia : Clay Nishikori is back! A late 5th set victory against Evans saw many bettors writing creative words into the livestream chat, and if you’ve never been called an assfish, you can only imagine how upset Dan is tonight. Kei was happy to get across the finish line, and he has to feel like he can breathe a sigh of relief. Travaglia beat Pablo Andujar, who I have been instructed by my attorney to point out is not from Colombia and does not live in the jungle and does not train jaguars and does not sleep in a cave and does not channel magical eagles and definitely does not possess the ability to call the wind from within his lungs which are definitely not made out of the spirit of a cursed python. Andujar had been on a tear, and beating him in straight sets coupled with Travaglia’s serving prowess mean I make him a slight favorite to beat Kei in this matchup. Since Kei is struggling to find length and rhythm playing a big hitter is likely a bad situation, and I give Kei a good chance since he’s such a difficult defender to beat but he really will be behind the 8-ball in his service games. Travaglia in 4-5.
McDonald Nadal : Nice win and some much needed points and bucks for Mackie. Nadal didn’t look great against Gerasimov but Egor was hitting some great offense and Nadal doesn’t exactly need to press early. Nadal in 3 and the next round against Travaglia will be a good look at Nadal’s level.
Finishing up the women's now. Should be up in an hour or two. <3
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