On Monday, wild card Jonas Forejtek dismantled Marin Cilic, 6-3, 6-2, to earn his first career tour-level win away from Davis Cup. It was a huge victory for the Czech, but it was also an equally troubling loss for Marin Cilic, who failed to reach a quarterfinal in 2020. During the Paris Masters, Cilic insisted that he still has better tennis in him, but judging by his performance against the former junior world No. 1, that tennis apppears long gone.
After his upset, Forejtek won’t have the element of surprise against Richard Gasquet. What he will carry is his fresh 19-year-old legs, as well as a big confidence boost knowing he’s defeated a former Grand Slam champion. At 5’11”, Forejtek doesn’t earn many free points, but his backhand is rock solid (as most Eastern Europeans’ are) and his movement is crisp.
Forejtek capitalized on the crucial points with some excellent backhand return winners.
He works his legs hard in order to get underneath the ball, and his technique is smooth, safe, and repeatable.
The Czech will have his hands full against Gasquet, as his backhand to backhand pattern that was so successful against Cilic will play right into the Frenchman’s hands. But having grown up watching Gasquet play, he'll know better than to test that gorgeous one-hander.
According to the oddsmakers, Gasquet is a sizeable -415 favorite and is projected to win by at least four games, but a scoreline that close would be surprising. It’s difficult to overstate just how poorly Cilic played on Monday.
The match was filled with shots like this, which just a few years ago, would have resulted in a clean winner, instead of an unforced error on a slow-moving mid-court backhand.
We’ve seen several breakthroughs in 2020, most notably that of Jannik Sinner, Italian phenom Lorenzo Musetti, as well as American Sebastian Korda. Forejtek is a promising talent, but lacks the firepower that the three former players own in spades. Oftentimes a signature win for a young player sets up a let-down in the following round. It will be interesting to see if Forejtek is skilled enough to push Gasquet to the brink, or if he simply capitalized on an alarming display by the 2014 US Open winner.
The Pick: Richard Gasquet