Today’s action at Roland Garros served as a nice counterpoint to the tumult of the first few days. There were no major upsets, and indeed, most of the top players had already played their second-round matches, leaving today as a day to look at the challengers that they might face in the later rounds.
On the women’s side, fourth seed Simona Halep looked strong again in dispatching Heather Watson of Great Britain, 6-2, 6-4. She is yet to really be tested this tournament, but that will definitely change, as she has a showdown with hard-hitting American phenom Sloane Stephens awaiting her in the Round of 16, should they both advance that far. That match will be slugfest, definitely one to watch out for. I’m calling Halep as the early favorite if that matchup does come to pass, but it should be entertaining no matter what.
Ana Ivanovic, on her quest to regain her place at the top tier of women’s tennis, has also looked good. She is yet to drop a set, like Halep, but will be tested should her Round of 16 matchup happen, as she’ll face Petra Kvitova. As mentioned before, Ivanovic holds a 4-3 edge in head-to-head matches, but Kvitova has won the last two. She is also very prone to failing in the clutch. We shall see.
Sara Errani has also looked strong, She’ll get unseeded Julia Glushko of Israel in the third round, followed by either Jelena Jankovic or Sorana Cirstea. If she can get past the Serbian former number one, Li Na’s absence in the bottom half of the draw makes her road to the quarters that much easier, and provides some nice matches for her to build up confidence heading into a potential showdown with either Halep, Kvitova, or Ivanovic. Then again, unpredictability could strike, and all of this could be for naught. Interestingly, all of these women are in the bottom half of the draw, which certainly lends credence to the idea that the eventual champion will emerge from here, though of course Agnieszka Radwanska could fulfill that promise and go all the way as well.
The men’s side has been even more formulaic, with the only blip on this radar the early exit of Wawrinka. Rafael Nadal has looked strong, as has Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and really every other high seed. As I mentioned before, continue to keep an eye on Gaël Monfils, as well as big men Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic. The clay should blunt the brute force of those last two enough to stop them, especially considering both would have to go through Djokovic to reach the semis. Nothing seems capable of derailing the Djoker at this point, though a pro-French crowd against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Round of 16 just might. Then again, Djokovic has beaten Tsonga eight straight times dating back to 2012. Bet on Djokovic to make it to at least the semis.
The other thing that seems worthy of note is the “success” of the American men in the draw. Currently, John Isner, Donald Young, and Jack Sock remain in the draw, though Sock was on the receiving end of his opponent retiring in the first round. They’ve played well, with Young seemingly on a path to don the mantle that some in the media have wanted to put on him: the future of American men’s tennis. His scrapping style and strong groundstrokes help on the slower clay surface, but his inexperience and lack of consistency are likely to cost him if he comes up against Gaël Monfils in the Round of 16. Sock, meanwhile, will be a lamb led to the slaughter in the Round of 16, where he’ll face Nadal.
Isner faces a slugfest a la Halep/Stephens if he advances, with big-hitting Czech Tomas Berdych looming, followed by a potential showdown with Federer. Isner has done so well to reach this point, but I can’t see him advancing to the quarters with what he has in store.
It speaks volumes about the state of tennis is the US of A that three men in the third round of the French Open can be considered a success, but there you have it. Good luck, gentlemen. I will definitely be rooting for you, though I am a realist. If none of you make it to the quarters, I won’t be surprised.
Keep it right here for more updates tomorrow.
Additionally, I couldn’t figure out a way to work it in to the article, but this piece was really cool and incredibly interesting. Check out more of Brian Phillips’ work if you have time, and thanks for reading.