Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Roland Garros quarters - serious times!

Quarter finals have arrived and most of the expected men's names are there, including the overwhelming favourites for the final.  Not such a familiar line up of women as six of those seeded to do battle in the last eight are gone, Serena back in the US watching the NBA playoffs and enjoying life beyond tennis for a period normally spent capturing Grand Slam titles.

Switzerland disappeared from the men's title race, Stan immediately and Roger a little later, kicking and screaming as he was dragged away from Roland Garros, his royalty having been disrespected by Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

I am excited for Andrea Petkovic who is finally reaping rewards at the highest level after one of the most courageous fight backs from a series of long term injury setbacks.  Seeded 28 here, she has definitely benefited from the first round losses of Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki, but now in the quarter final, she must fancy her chances against Sara Errani, given her once held top ten ranking in the world and natural talent.  Against that is Errani's rich vein of form which should have her and Sharapova grunting and screaming their respective ways to the final - a noisy repeat of the 2012 ear piercer.

If anyone may surprise it is the only former winner left apart from Maria.  Sveta Kuznetsova has flown through the tournament, with her win over Kvitova possibly the best women's singles match to date this French  Open.  And if Simona Halep continues to be ignored she might just say "I told you so" and prove that the fourth seed mantle is well deserved.

Andy Murray played a great match in Rome to lose to Rafa, and he has done most things right in his quest for more Grand Slam glory, on a surface that suits him least but has provided him good finishes previously.  He is on track to meet Nadal in another ripper semi - I saw them clash in one in 2011 and I believe that this time round, for all the drama of injury and coach, and no coach, Andy still has all the shots to trouble the best.

The other player left with the potential to make one of the top two squirm a little is the confident Milos Raonic, one of two Canadians still flying the maple leaf.  Eugenie Bouchard is the other, and I neglected to mention her - she is the real deal and could win several majors in the future, may even win one here if she brings it all on the day, she is that good.
But Milos has his next hurdle in Novak Djokovic and that is a tough one.  He will be buoyed by what he saw in Melbourne with Wawrinka, and hope that he is on a high and catches the Serb on a slight downer.  Raonic, like Genie, could push for a spot in the top few over the next few years.

I haven't talked of David Ferrer because despite his win over Nadal in Monte Carlo, he is mere hitting practice for Rafa when it comes to the majors, more so the one in Paris.  Last year he made it to the final - this time Rafa caught him earlier and David I believe will leave us as a losing quarter finalist.

Berdych and Gulbis will fight for a semi and I suspect that the hype surrounding the Federer scalp will be a little too much for Ernie and the experience of Tomas enough to win a chance against Novak.

So here they are - my predictions revised for the forty fifth time:

Women's semis:

Sharapova v Bouchard
Kuznetsova v Errani

Sharapova to edge out Errani in the final

Men's semis:

Nadal v Murray
Berdych v Djokovic

Djokovic to break through and complete his Career Grand Slam with his fifth win in a row against Nadal

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