The second week of the 2014 French Open begins on Sunday with day eight, which features the start of the fourth round of men’s singles matches.
There were some gems amongst the current spate of single point/game losses in yesterday’s preview, with Rafa Nadal edging over the handicap mark against Leo Mayer and Dusan Lajovic and Donald Young also doing as I had predicted – the former winning and the latter taking Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to five sets.
Saturday’s painful one was David Ferrer, who in what was a poor performance from the Spaniard, littered with unforced errors, failed by a game to cover the handicap.
Of course, Ferrer had failed with three set points that would have given him a 6-1 first set, which in turn would have meant a handicap win, but it wasn’t to be with that one.
We start at 10:00 UK time with a big-hitting affair on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Tomas Berdych 1.22 vs John Isner 4.10
The Czech played some of his best tennis of the season in the opening two sets of his match with Roberto Bautista-Agut on Friday and he should have few issues getting past the challenge of Isner today.
Isner was always going to be in with a shot of taking down Tommy Robredo, who historically has tended to struggle against big servers, but I wasn’t convinced pre-match of John’s motivation in this tournament.
This is the first time in his career that Isner has made the fourth round here at the French Open, but it’s hard to see his serve and forehand being enough on this surface against a Berdych that’s striking the ball well.
Tomas is one of the few that can really fire the ball through clay in pretty much any weather and only a really gusty day could potentially blow him off course today.
With decent weather forecast it looks to me like Berdych should ease through this one as he has done in the past against Isner on clay.
It won’t be as easy as the thrashing that Berdych handed out to Isner here back in 2010, but if he repeats the form of the RBA match the minus 4.5 games looks good at 1.75.
Novak Djokovic 1.12 vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6.30
This is the big one for Tsonga, who will lose a fair few ranking points if he doesn’t overcome tournament favourite Djokovic and with this match being scheduled on the slower Court Philippe Chatrier have the French lessened the chances for their man?
Novak said after the Marin Cilic match that Lenglen was “quicker, so it's suitable more for servers like Marin and the players who play very aggressively,” so why the FFT have put this match on Chatrier I’m not too sure.
Anyway, that’s Tsonga’s chance diminished, although there were some substantial chinks in the Serb’s armour in that Cilic match that Jo could well exploit and unless Djokovic improves from the last two sets in that one this could be tougher for him than the prices suggest.
We all remember the classic between these two back in 2012, where Tsonga had a match point, and it seems to me that Jo plays far better here in Paris than anywhere else these days.
His win over Jerzy Janowicz was brainless tennis from the Pole, who was all over the place tactically in that match and Novak will be way smarter, but Cilic enjoyed success with an attacking approach and Tsonga can do the same – up to a point.
I don’t see Novak winning this one in three and the 3.35 about a 3-1 win for the world number two appeals here.
Djokovic has won the last nine completed matches against Jo dating back to the start of 2010 and Jo hasn’t won a set since that match here in Paris two years ago.
He’ll clearly be motivated and with his adoring crowd behind him – on arguably the wrong court – and he can take a set.
Back Berdych –4.5 games to beat Isner at 1.75
Back Djokovic to beat Tsonga 3-1 at 3.35