Saturday, 2 June 2012

French Open: 4th Round Predictions for Day 8

The top four on Day 8:
Juan Martin Del Potro
1. Juan Martin Del Potro v Tomas Berdych
The highlight match on day 8 is without doubt, the 4th round clash between Del Potro and Berdych.  Both have been tested on their route to the second week; Del Potro lost sets in his first two matches and struggled with a persistent knee injury.  He did though find his best form in a straight sets win over Marin Cilic in the 3rd round.  Berdych sauntered through his opening two rounds, but came through a real battle in the third round against Kevin Anderson, 6-4 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-4.  He showed real guts and determination and an underlying mental toughness, which I have always felt has been lacking from the Czech player.  They last met in a tense Madrid semi-final where Berdych prevailed in two tiebreak sets, but Del Potro appeared flustered by umpiring decisions in that one.  I think Del Potro will spring a mini-upset...
Prediction - Del Potro to beat Berdych in 4 sets

2. Victoria Azarenka v Dominika Cibulkova
The world number one, Victoria Azarenka has regained her form since that nervy first rounder where she was inches away from exiting the competition to Alberta Brianti.  There was not much between her and Aleksandra Wozniak in their 3rd round encounter apart from the fact she played the key points better in a 6-4 6-4 victory.  Dominika Cibulkova has played extremely well so far and has not lost more than two games in any of the six sets she has played so far.  Their last encounter in Miami was one of the craziest matches of the year as Cibulkova wasted a 6-1 4-0 lead in a 1-6 7-6 7-5 loss.  The Slovakian did show in that encounter she has the shots to hurt Azarenka and in particular, she has been of the very few this year to really take on Azarenka's shaky second serve.  I expect another tough one for Azarenka but does Cibulkova have the belief she can actually beat the world number one?
Prediction - Azarenka to beat Cibulkova in 3 sets

3. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Stanislas Wawrinka
Svetlana Kuznetsova
If this match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Stanislas Wawrinka is anything like their last encounter this should be a treat for the Philippe Chatrier crowd.  In their 3rd round encounter at last year's Roland Garros, Wawrinka came back from a two set deficit to shock Tsonga in five sets.  Tsonga's tournament has pretty much followed his year so far; he has made his way through the opening rounds with progressive ease, but has not looked particularly impressive.  Wawrinka has already played two five setters on his way to the fourth round and did extremely well to come from two sets to one down to beat Gilles Simon in the last round.  I think from one year ago, Tsonga is a much more solid player and although he is not at home on the clay, I think he will progress to his first ever quarter-final at his home slam.
Prediction - Tsonga to beat Wawrinka to beat in 4 sets

4. Svetlana Kuznetsova v Sara Errani  
Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sara Errani both upset higher seeds in their third round matches to set up an intriguing 4th round encounter.  Kuznetsova played her best match of the year, probably even her best level in several years as she dismantled Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-1 6-2.  Errani too had a huge win as she showed real guts to overturn a first set rout to beat Ana Ivanovic, 1-6 7-5 6-3.  I think this will be a high quality match; both love the clay and looked in superb form in their previous matches.  Kuznetsova has won all five of their head-to-head matches, but this will be first their ever match on clay... based on all the facts, Kuznetsova has to be favourite to make the quarter-finals.
Prediction - Kuznetsova to beat Errani in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest:
Sam Stosur has looked in superb form so far and will take on the American, Sloane Stephens in the 4th round.  I anticipate she will continue her serene progress in that one.  The final womens match on day 8 will be between Angelique Kerber and Petra Martic.  Kerber came from a set down to beat Flavia Pennetta, 4-6 6-3 6-2 in a thoroughly entertaining match.  Martic meanwhile has had a massive breakthrough this week with wins over Marion Bartoli and Anabel Medina Garrigues.  She has a very watchable game and will test the German although I think having already won 35 matches this year will help Kerber close this match out.

I thought there was a possibility that Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer could both be sidelined to the Suzanne Lenglen court seeing the strength of the other two mens 4th round matches, but the world number one has made the schedule on Philippe Chatrier.  Djokovic plays the Italian, Andreas Seppi who has had a fantastic clay court season having won the title in Serbia and reaching the quarter-finals in his home tournament in Rome.  Federer plays the lucky loser, David Goffin who  upset Radek Stepanek in the first round and has continued to build steam in a breakthrough tournament for him.

The outcome of Day 7's top matches:
There were a number of upsets in the womens matches that I did not predict! Kaia Kanepi overcame Caroline Wozniacki, but more importantly herself in a 6-1 6-7 6-3 victory.  She led 6-1 5-1 at one point but completely choked the second set away.  She now plays Arantxa Rus in the 4th round, who surprised Julia Goerges in a match that was played into the darkness.  Varvara Lepchenko held her nerve at the second time of asking to complete a third marathon victory, this time over former champion Francesca Schiavone, 3-6 6-3 8-6.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also departed the tournament although Li Na managed to hold on as she fought back superbly from the loss of the opening set to defeat Christina McHale, 3-6 6-2 6-1.

You can follow my original predictions for the WTA and ATP draws at Roland Garros.  The WTA draw has been a shocker but i'm doing very well in the mens draw having correctly predicted all eight winners today including Juan Monaco and Marcel Granollers.

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