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Four to Follow, Roland Garros Day 11: Gauff to start, Djokovic to finish; champs Swiatek and Nadal in between
Coco and Barbora Krejcikova each bring nine-match winning streaks to the first French Open quarterfinal on tap Wednesday. Later, Iga and Rafa continue their title defenses, before the world No. 1 returns for his second night-session contest.
Published Jun 08, 2021
HIGHLIGHTS: ICYMI—how Djokovic rallied past Musetti.
Coco Gauff vs. Barbora Krejcikova
We’ve seen a lot of first-time meetings at this year’s French Open, especially on the women’s side, and we’ll have two more on Wednesday. In the case of Gauff vs. Krejcikova, it’s isn’t all that surprising: The American has only been on tour since 2019, and until this year the Czech had gone deep in doubles a lot more often than she had in singles. But they’ve have both on a roll lately, and a collision at some point was inevitable. Gauff has won 13 of her 14 matches, and a title in Parma; Krejcikova is also coming off a title, in Strasbourg, and has won nine straight matches. Her last loss was 7-5 in the third set to Iga Swiatek in Rome.
Barbora vs. Coco should be a battle of offense vs. defense, and shotmaking vs. steadiness. Krejcikova never hesitates to change the direction of the ball or aim for the sideline; while Gauff has been more offensive-minded lately, her strengths are still her speed and her low unforced-error count. If Gauff can track down Krejcikova’s bullets and make her play extra balls, she could win. But I’ll take offense over defense this time. Winner: Krejcikova
Iga Swiatek vs. Maria Sakkari
Swiatek and Sakkari were also due for a showdown, not so much because of what they’ve done recently, but because they may both be in the Top 10 soon, and may be going farther and farther at the majors on a regular basis. At 25, Sakkari’s fighting spirit is translating into more wins, and her first trip to a Grand Slam quarterfinal. She has lost just one set in her four matches. Swiatek has been even more impressive: the 19-year-old is on a 22-set win streak at Roland Garros dating back to last fall, when she won the title.
Sakkari is the proverbial tough out; even if she’s out-gunned by Swiatek, she’ll make her earn every last point. But I think Swiatek, who has the more fearsome forehand, and who must feel as she can’t lose in Paris right now, will earn those points. Winner: Swiatek
Rafael Nadal vs. Diego Schwartzman
Another year, another quarterfinal between Nadal and Schwartzman at Roland Garros. They played in this round in 2018, and Nadal won in four sets; they played again in this around last fall, and Nadal won in straights. Rafa is 10-1 against Diego; is there any reason to think the result might be different this time?
Schwartzman can make Nadal hit a lot of balls, he can snap off some brilliant running winners, he can get on mini-rolls, and he can win sets. All of which, in 2018 and 2020, Nadal used to work himself into top form for the rest of the tournament. Judging by Rafa’s 6-0 third-set over Jannik Sinner last round, he may already be there. Winner: Nadal
Novak Djokovic vs. Matteo Berrettini
Djokovic and Berrettini get the night session, which means, with no one in the arena, they’ll be creating all of their own energy. I’m not sure how Berrettini feels about that, but Djokovic isn’t a fan of no-fan tennis. Will it have any affect on his play, or the result? Probably not. In their only previous meeting, on indoor hard courts in 2019, Djokovic won easily. More important, after coming from two sets down against Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round, Djokovic knows he can stage a comeback, and that he has a set or two to play with.
Berrettini will be rested after advancing in a walkover over Roger Federer, but that may also throw his play-every-other-day rhythm off. Djokovic has come too far to lose one round before he gets a crack at Nadal on Chatrier. Winner: Djokovic