French Open 2011: Novak Djokovic-Juan Martin Del Potro and Other Friday Matches

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French Open 2011: Novak Djokovic-Juan Martin Del Potro and Other Friday Matches
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Court Philippe Chatrier

Third Round: Novak Djokovic [2] vs. Juan Martin del Potro [25]

Djokovic keeps reminding me of the term “youth’s age.” Just as a child picks up a crayon and starts scribbling on a canvas with full exuberance and passion, so does Djokovic—but instead of a crayon, he uses a racquet.

There are no boundaries or rules at the moment for the Australian Open champion. Del Potro will want to change that, however, and the only way to manage this is to act like a parent and curb the child’s exuberance.

Djokovic’s favorite shot is the backhand down the line, which he uses to great effect against many players. Against Del Potro though, this shot may be neutralized, and this is where the match may be won or lost.

Not only does the tall Argentinean have a bullet forehand, but he also possesses an unbelievable running forehand, which he can also hit down the line but mostly crosscourt with astonishing ease and regularity.

Of course, the Serb will be aware of this. Nonetheless, Del Potro has a solid two-handed backhand as well. Add to the fact that the 2009 US Open champ can deliver mighty blows off both wings, and Djokovic will have to be careful he does not get pushed around.

It would actually have to be the other way around. Mr. Unbeatable will have to keep his tall opponent on the run at all times, meaning that Djokovic will have to aim for the corners with great regularity. Going pound for pound with a guy that smashes the ball like a pancake may not be the best idea.

Nevertheless, we all know that when you try to curb exuberance at youth’s age, the child bites back with even greater exuberance, added with some anger too—something that might just be uncontrollable, even for a big man like Del Potro.

 

Third Round: Stanislas Wawrinka [14] vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [17]

This will be a match that no tennis fan will want to miss. Not so surprisingly, they are also evenly matched.

Both have great serves but do not really have the physical build of a tennis player. Both players can pound the ball from way behind the baseline, creating some unbelievable angles along the way, but they can also miss easy shots.

It will be a balanced match in terms of what will be happening on the tennis court, but it will be a landslide in the stands. The French crowd will back their man until the end, and this is where Tsonga might find that something extra that his opponent will not have to win the match.

 

Court Suzanne Lenglen

Third Round: Richard Gasquet [13] vs. Thomaz Bellucci

The 13th seed, the last of the three musketeers to play today, will be wary of his next opponent, who has had all of his best results on clay.

All of the Brazilian's three finals have come on the Terre Battue, and this is where his game translates best. He has a great forehand that he can hit with heavy topspin and relatively flat. He is also a great athlete.

Despite those abilities, he lacks composure. The Brazilian has the propensity to get frustrated and angry when things are not going his way. Be sure that if he shows an inkling of this to the Parisian crowd, they will take advantage of it immediately.

Gasquet has the cleaner shots and is more talented overall. The Frenchman has been playing well, and his one-handed backhand will be able to cope with Bellucci’s left-handed forehand.

The Brazilian will probably win a set, but overall, Gasquet—with the help of the Parisian crowd—should get through this one.

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