French Open 2011: Full Fourth Round Predictions
Following a lackluster card at UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill, it may be easy for one to disregard the importance of Rick Story's impressive upset over Thiago Alves.
While Story was meant to be something of a stepping stone for Alves—just another fight to display his development as a well-rounded fighter—Story utilized superior wrestling, strength in the clinch, and a ridiculous chin to win a unanimous decision.
(7) David Ferrer vs. (9) Gael Monfils
Both Gael Monfils and David Ferrer have gotten off to strong starts in Paris.
Monfils has dropped a couple of sets, but has bounced back nicely both times. He seems to finally be approaching 100 percent physically (something I end up saying every year), and his is perhaps the athlete the tennis world has ever seen.
However, to this point, in all his matches, he was the heavy favorite, yet he struggled. Against Ferrer, nothing will be easy, and Monfils will have to work.
Ferrer has cruised into the round of 16. He has lost only 21 games in nine sets, and has not lost more than five games in a single set.
However, just like with Monfils, he was the favorite. And with such an athletic freak as Monfils, he won't get too many free points, either.
Both these players are great defensive players, and we are sure to have an extremely entertaining battle at our hands.
With that said, I feel as if Ferrer is more fit to run all day, especially on clay, and will outlast Monfils in a 5-setter.
Prediction: Ferrer def. Monfils 7-5, 3-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1
(14) Stanislas Wawrinka vs. (3) Roger Federer
Good friends, compatriots and occasional doubles partners, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka will meet for the tenth time tomorrow. Fed leads the all-time head-to-head 8-1 and had a routine win over Wawrinka in the Australian Open.
With less attention than ever in the past 6 years, Federer has crushed his first three opponents. He has played clinical, attacking tennis, and all parts of his game are clicking.
Wawrinka is coming off an emotional, hard-fought, come-from behind win over home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last round.
He has shown amazing resilience, and his backhand had been phenomenal as always, but I think his tired legs will not withstand a rejuvenated Roger Federer attack.
Prediction: Federer def. Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6, 6-2
Fabio Fognini vs. Albert Montanes
Neither one of these players entered the tournament with the thought that they would be quarter finalists. Now, one of them will.
Albert Montanes and Fabio Fognini will slug it out tomorrow on Suzanne Lenglen for that spot.
Neither of them has ever been to a Grand Slam quarterfinal, but the draw has opened up nicely for both of them. They both have beat one seed en route to the fourth round.
Montanes is a very solid player who plays his best tennis on clay-courts. He has yet to drop a set and his forehand is growing into a force. He will need to keep up the agressive style of play in he hopes to beat Fognini.
Fognini is a talented player who has yet to break free from the problem of inconsistencies. This week, has been an "on" week, and he has a full head of confidence heading into the clash with Montanes.
I think Montanes' solid head to head record and the fact that is the more consistent player will propel him to a tough win.
Prediction: Montanes def. Fognini 7-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
(13) Richard Gasquet vs. (2) Novak Djokovic
Probably the best match of the day will come when the player of the moment, Novak Djokovic battles Richard Gasquet who has also been playing well as of late.
Djokovic has literally been unstoppable the entire season, winning 40 matches, losing none. He has beaten all kinds of players on two surfaces, and most of his matches were never in doubt.
However, he is coming off a tough four set, two day battle with big-hitting Juan Martin Del Potro. The Serb will be tired when he and the home-crowd favorite take the court.
Gasquet also had a tough third-round match, but he had an entire fay of rest. His game is rapidly growing back to where it was at his peak, when he was ranked no.7. The Rome semifinalist can make some noise tomorrow.
In my boldest prediction of the tournament, I see the home crowd pushing Gasquet from the brink of elimination, and wearing down Djokovic's tired legs. The ridiculous streak ends two before the record and three before the number 1 ranking.
Prediction: Gasquet def. Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6, 7-5
(1) Rafael Nadal vs. Ivan Ljubicic
Although defending champion Nadal has somewhat struggled so far, I don't see Ljubicic posing any problem to the defending of the crown.
Nadal seemed to hit form with a win over Antonio Veic, losing only 4 games en route. The next Croat in line should be no different.
Sure, Ljubicic has turned back the clock five years this week, and he troubled Rafa last year at Indian Wells, but, Nadal heavy-topspin forehands will frustrate Ljubicic's one-handed backhand. Furthermore, the last time they played on clay Rafa crushed, 6-1, 6-3.
I see Nadal easing through it what will be his last easy match of the tournament.
Prediction: Nadal def. Ljubicic 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
(18) Gilles Simon vs. (5) Robin Soderling
This match is definitely a must-watch. Simon has been playing brilliant tennis, and Soderling has continued the legacy he created a Roland Garros two years ago.
Simon has dropped a couple sets, but his backhand is still a great weapon. With the crowd fully behind him, he has pulled out two four-set wins. Last round, he cruised past world no. 10 Mardy Fish with surprising ease. If Simon finally decides to go to the offensive early, he might have enough to pull off the upset.
Soderling has proved that the set that he lost to Ryan Harrison was a fluke. He has dominated his past two opponents, but it will be hard to do the same to Simon, who is a great defensive player.
Soderling has proven his worth here twice before and I think he has enough in him to knock out the frenchman.
In a two-fisted fight I decide to side with Soderling.
Prediction: Soderling def. Gasquet 6-3, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2
(4) Andy Murray vs. (15) Viktor Troicki
As long as Murray's ankle injury is fully healed, he should have no problem taking out Troicki. The Serb is a great player, but Murray has been in good form, and Troicki's clay-court form has not been great.
Murray has demolished three over-matched opponents to this point and will hope to make quick work of Troicki.
He needs to try to find his agressive nature early and not give the Serb any room for error. If Murray limits his mistakes, he can pull off the win.
Trocki will have a tough time. Murray has been moving opponents from side to side. The Brit has a balanced game, and is perhaps the best returner in tennis.
Since Troicki is not a great server, I would expect Murray to prey on that weakness.
I think Troicki will be overwhelmed and Murray will prove to the public that he should be considered a true contender.
Prediction: Murray def. Troicki 6-1, 6-3, 6-3
Alejandro Falla vs. Juan Ignacio Chela
On paper both these players are upsets. However, Chela has been playing out of his mind for a good chunk of the clay court season.
He is a natural clay-courter, as he moves well and plays his best tennis from the baseline.
Over the course of his career, Falla has had a couple tournaments where he has made a splash (includes taking Federer to a fifth set at Wimbledon 2010).
At Roland Garros, a chance presents itself for him to make it to his first Grand-Slam semi.
The momentum of his run will carry him to perhaps one set, but the reality sinks in. He hasn't faced anyone of Chela's caliber.
He falls flat on his face, drops a lead, and goes tumbling out, as the Argentine continues his run in Paris.
Prediction: Ignacio Chela def. Falla 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2