The last remaining quarter final spots are to be contested at the French Open on Monday, with Novak Djokovic among those vying for last eight places after another dramatic day on Sunday.
After bemoaning the lack of underdog winners in this year (and most year)’s French Open yesterday we did manage to find a ‘long shot’ winner when Albert Ramos beat Milos Raonic in straight sets.
But arguably a bigger surprise came in the Kei Nishikori vs Richard Gasquet match when the Japanese led *4-2 before a rain delay that turned the match on its head.
Gasquet came out after the break a different man, while Nishikori was awful, and while the damp conditions undoubtedly helped the Gasman I’m not too sure what happened to Nishikori, who was unrecognisable as the player we’ve seen for most of this season.
Novak Djokovic vs Roberto Bautista-Agut
The cakewalk of a draw continues for the world number one, who after looking almost bored in despatching Aljaz Bedene in straight sets now faces a man beaten in both of their completed meetings by Bedene.
Yes, it’s Bautista-Agut, an opponent with very little to hurt Djokovic with and even more so on a slow court in damp conditions.
RBA played very well in defeating Djokovic-lite Borna Coric in straight sets, but the real thing will be a different story and it’s hard to see the Spaniard making much of a match of this in these conditions.
Lacking much of a serve and any real power on the backhand side RBA’s accuracy and consistency make him a headache for most on the ATP Tour, but he’s won one of his last 18 sets against top-five ranked opposition.
And that was against Djokovic in the US Open last year, which was a surprise, but not that great a shock on a quick hard court. On clay he’s won only one of 13 sets against top-five opposition.
That was versus Nishikori in Barcelona last season and otherwise he’s failed to take more than four games in a set on this surface against top-five opponents and a 3-0 win for the Serb seems the most likely outcome here.
He can’t push Djokovic back with any real power, other than a decent forehand, and with hardly anything coming for free on his serve it’s asking too much of RBA to out-grind Novak.
Dominic Thiem vs Marcel Granollers
Granollers has had his share of good fortune of late, making the last eight in Monte-Carlo as a lucky loser after being walloped by Daniel Gimeno-Traver in qualies and now this.
The Spaniard has beaten Fabio Fognini and won by retirement against Nicolas Mahut in round two before becoming the first beneficiary of Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal.
He now finds himself into the fourth round after just five sets of tennis and that lack of time spent on court may well give him a bit of an edge over Thiem here, with the Austrian having played a whopping 50 sets on clay between April 11 and now.
Granollers has played a dozen fewer and Thiem is a bit short in price after his heavy workload, but I’m not sure I fancy Granollers to get the job done.
But I do like the 3.90 about the Spaniard winning the opening set, with Thiem showing some fatigue of late, displayed in slow starts to the likes of Inigo Cervantes, Taro Daniel, Alexander Zverev (twice), and Jan Lennard Struff this clay swing.
Based on that and all the matches he has in his legs that’s quite a big price on Granollers to win the opener, as he has in two of his three prior career clashes with the Austrian.
He has won the opening set four times in his career when priced as a 6.0 underdog or bigger in the match and three of them were in Grand Slams – against Federer, Gasquet and Soderling (Cilic was the other).
Granollers went on to lose all four of those matches, so my lack of faith in him is perhaps well placed, but he has his chances in the opener.
Sure thing: Back Djokovic to beat Bautista-Agut 3-0 at 1.28
Long shot: Back Granollers to win set one at 3.90