The first of the men’s quarter finals at the 2015 French Open are scheduled to be in-play on Tuesday, with two of the semi finalists set to be decided on day 10 in Paris.
Day nine began with anticlimax, as Gael Monfils came out with an illness and offered very little on the resumption of his match with Roger Federer.
Lamonf claimed to have been up all night suffering (much like his backers have down the years) and said: “When you're 100 percent is it's never easy to beat Roger, so when you're not 100 percent it is definitely impossible."
Like Tomas Berdych the day before it was all very frustrating but it got much better later when my two bets from Monday found the mark.
Jack Sock was getting a bit of a lesson from Rafa Nadal, but found his form in the third set when fighting back from 3-5 to take in 7-5 and land the +2.5 sets wager at 2.60.
At roughly the same time Novak Djokovic defeated Richard Gasquet in the expected straight sets, with the latter inexplicably continuing with a playing style that has been proven time and again not to work against the Serbian.
We start a little later on Tuesday, with the men’s matches beginning at roughly 15:00 UK time.
Recent history in men’s quarter finals at the French Open saw three favourites winning in 2014 and 2013, all four in 2012, three of three in 2011, but two big underdogs (Melzer d. Djokovic and Soderling d. Federer) won in 2010.
Kei Nishikori vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
I didn’t fancy Tsonga to get past Berdych in the previous round and he perhaps wouldn’t have done had Berdych not severely dipped from the level we’ve been used to seeing from the Czech in recent times.
In fairness to Tsonga it was the best we’ve seen from him since his comeback from injury earlier this year and in this seventh career clash with Nishikori he will at least have the adoring French crowd behind him.
He may well need them though, as Nishikori has beaten Tsonga in Paris twice at the Masters in Bercy on slow indoor hard, and while that’s not on clay on Chatrier the career series doesn’t make great reading for Tsonga.
The Frenchman has managed one win from six in all and one from five at tour level and the lone victory came on fast outdoor hard in Shanghai back in 2013.
Tsonga’s win over a below par Berdych was his first over a top-10 ranked opponent since his remarkable win in Canada last year and it was probably his best match since then after a long lay-off with an arm injury.
Nishikori’s return of serve, athleticism and more reliable, but scarcely less powerful ground strokes are generally a match for Tsonga, who will need to play his very best to have a shot here.
In his two previous quarter finals here he beat Roger Federer in straight sets and should have beaten Novak Djokovic, so it certainly could be argued that he’s more than capable of raising his game in big matches here at the French Open.
That said, the last twice that Tsonga has lost here he’s lost by at least 10 games – once to Djokovic last year and to Ferrer in 2013.
The best of the short prices looks to be the 1.35 about over 31.5 total games, while I do like the idea of siding with Nishikori to win by three sets to one at a tempting 3.60.
Tsonga will be pumped for this and the 2.67 about him winning set one doesn’t look a bad punt, but Nishikori has been going about his business very well this fortnight and should have plenty in the tank still.
Conditions are set fair, so it shouldn’t be heavy and too slow out there, but it could be windy which may present its own set of problems.
The Japanese star has been mixing it the best with decent success for a long time now though and certainly more regularly than Tsonga of late and I’d expect him to produce a good enough level to get past the Frenchman here.
Long shot: Back Nishikori to beat Tsonga 3-1 at 3.60