French Open Day 8 Preview
Day Seven Recap
-In a battle of ATP rising stars, 13-seed Dominic Thiem defeated Alex Zverev in four sets, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Thiem has won two titles on clay this season and could challenge the top players. He takes on Marcel Granollers for a spot in the quarterfinals.
-Women’s top seed Serena Williams withstood a stern second set test to defeat 26-seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 7-6(10). With a win next week, Williams would tie Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era.
-Women’s seeds Carla Suarez Navarro and Timea Bacsinszky also advanced, and 18-seed Elina Svitolina upset 14-seed Ana Ivanovic.
-The unseeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis didn’t even have to finish a set against No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to move to the fourth round. Tsonga retired down 2-5 with a leg injury after stretching for a wide ball. Tsonga left the court with tears in his eyes.
Day Eight Marquee Matches
Kei Nishikori (5) vs Richard Gasquet (9)
This will be perhaps the most evenly matched competition on Day 8. Though both are top-10 players, Nishikori had a stronger spring and clay season. That season included a final round appearance in Barcelona and semifinal showings at the Masters 1000 series tournaments in Madrid and Rome, both of which included defeats of Gasquet. Gasquet has never progressed beyond the fourth round in Paris. Buoyed by a big win in the third round over Nick Kyrgios and the partial French crowd, he could definitely give Nishikori a run for his money and avenge those two recent losses.
Prediction: Gasquet in five for the big upset in front of his home crowd
Milos Raonic (8) vs Albert Ramos-Vinolas
On paper, Raonic should win this match. However, clay courts can often turn the tables in the underdog’s favor. Ramos is a left-handed clay-court specialist, which could help, but he has also had a very inconsistent season. Ramos took advantage of matches against two unseeded players before scoring a big upset in five sets over No. 23 Jack Sock. Raonic is a big server with a power game, but he won’t be able to hit through Ramos on clay. If he can construct points and rely less on his serve and forehand, Ramos will have a much harder time. However, there are always surprises on clay.
Prediction: Raonic in five
Svetlana Kuznetsova (13) vs Garbiñe Muguruza (4)
Kuznetsova is a former French Open champion, but has not progressed that far in Paris for quite some time—she lost in the second round last year. Muguruza, on the other hand, is on the rise—she reached her first Slam final at Wimbledon last year and won a Premier Mandatory title in Beijing. Though Muguruza has yet to have the success at a Slam that Kuznetsova has had, Muguruza is the higher ranked and seeded player and is just coming into her career. Kuznetsova is now 30 and likely in the twilight of her career. Age and stage aside, this matchup has all the makings of one that will go the distance.
Prediction: Muguruza in three