There was no shortage of excitement from Day 7 of the 2014 French Open, with big names playing well and a few upsets sprinkled in for good measure. Three results, in particular, bear recapitulation because the three winners played excellently and are in such superb form that they all look like good bets to advance past the next round at Roland Garros.
|Court Philippe Chatrier|
|(27) Svetlana Kuznetsova def. (5) Petra Kvitova: 6-7(3), 6-1, 9-7|
|(1) Rafael Nadal vs. Leonardo Mayer: 6-2, 7-5, 6-2|
|(28) Andrea Petkovic vs. Kristina Mladenovic|
|(12) Richard Gasquet vs. (24) Fernando Verdasco|
|Court Suzanne Lenglen|
|(15) Sloane Stephens def. (22) Ekaterina Makarova: 6-3, 6-4|
|(23) Lucie Safarova def. (11) Ana Ivanovic: 6-3, 6-3|
|(23) Gael Monfils def. (14) Fabio Fognini: 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2|
|(28) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (7) Andy Murray|
|(5) David Ferrer def. (32) Andreas Seppi: 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-3|
|(6) Jelena Jankovic def. (26) Sorana Cirstea: 6-1, 6-2|
|Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Donald Young|
|(1) Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan vs. (15) Jamie Murray/John Peers|
David Ferrer (5) def. Andreas Seppi (32): 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-3
David Ferrer looked extremely convincing in his straight-set defeat of Andreas Seppi to advance to the round of 16. The Spaniard has yet to drop a set at Roland Garros and is looking to make it back to the French Open final—and he has a good chance of accomplishing that goal if he continues to play this way.
The world No. 5 has Seppi’s number, improving to 7-0 against the Italian and winning all 15 of their sets. He’ll take on No. 19 seed Kevin Anderson in the next round.
Anderson advanced after his previous opponent retired, but the South African will have his hands full against a rejuvenated Ferrer, who is displaying tremendous consistency in his play. Ferrer expounded on that topic in an interview with ATPWorldTour.com:
I'm quite satisfied with the match. I would have liked to be more steady with my forehand and more consistent, but still, I'm happy.
In the past five weeks I have started my matches in a more regular way, more consistent, I was more solid. I must say that as far as this is concerned, Jose [Altur, his coach] has helped me a lot. We have worked a lot on this. That is how to kick off a match.
Ferrer is playing really well right now, but he will probably have to go through Rafael Nadal if both players win their round-of-16 matches, and that will be a monumental challenge with the way Nadal plays at Roland Garros.
Sloane Stephens (15) def. Ekaterina Makarova (22): 6-3, 6-4
Sloane Stephens continued her penchant for shining on the big stages by dismissing Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets and avoiding the plight that has befallen many of the other favorites in the women’s draw this year.
Eight of the top 13 seeds for the women have gone home early, which opens the door for Stephens to make a deep run in Paris. If she manages to pull that off—or even win the whole thing—it would hardly be a surprise considering her previous performances in the big tournaments. Jim Caple of ESPNW.com breaks down the interesting difference in her play at prestigious events:
As has been heavily discussed, Stephens is far more successful in Grand Slams than lesser tournaments. She has reached the fourth round in the past six majors, which no other woman can claim. She also has reached the third round in her past nine. On the other hand, she has gone one-and-done in five other tournaments this year and has never reached the final in any tournament—she is the highest-ranked player with that dubious distinction.
Her next opponent, Simona Halep, has been the opposite. Halep has climbed up the rankings by winning the lesser tournaments but has struggled in majors until very recently. The Romanian reached the fourth round at last year’s U.S. Open and the quarterfinals at this year’s Australian Open, so their match in the round of 16 looks like a juicy contest between two of the game’s emerging young stars.
Rafael Nadal (1) def. Leonardo Mayer: 6-2, 7-5, 6-2
A Leonardo Mayer win would have been an unparalleled upset at the French Open—that’s how phenomenal Rafael Nadal is at Roland Garros. Nadal has won 31 in a row at the clay court for the second time in his career.
Last time he held such a streak, he never extended it because he lost to Robin Soderling in 2009. That will surely play a role in the media coverage surrounding his fourth-round match against Dusan Lajovic, but it shouldn’t affect Nadal on the court.
The world No. 1 has dropped only 19 games this calendar year and has looked focused on the court, committing only 10 unforced errors against Mayer. With his track record of excellence at the venue, Nadal is playing such exceptional tennis that it looks like he will stroll into the semifinals.