Saturday, 28 May 2016

Rafa's injured wrist dominates Day 6

The sixth day of main draw tennis in Paris will forever be remembered not first for any of the on court exchanges, but for the sobering press conference held by 9 times Roland Garros champion Rafa Nadal informing the world of his withdrawal from this year's event.  A wrist injury has robbed an already Federer-less tournament of its biggest name (and that includes even the world's best player, Novak Djokovic).

The hope is that Wimbledon will not also miss the presence of the Spanish number one.

The French Open still continues, however, and the immediate beneficiary of Nadal's misfortune is fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers, who only needed two sets and a game before Mahut retired from their second round match.  Now he has a walkover from Rafa to advance to the round of sixteen.  Rested he will certainly be before he plays the winner of Thiem and Zverev.

Action in third round matches confirmed that Stan Wawrinka was well and truly over his round one wobbles, putting French player Jeremy Chardy to the sword in a straight sets performance enhancing his credentials for a successful title defence.  Probable semi final opponent Andy Murray found his best form of the week too, with a ruthless display against Ivo Karlovic, taking the first five games of the match before the Croatian had time to blink. 

Fifth seed Kei Nishikori was set to record his third consecutive straight sets win after securing the opening two sets against Fernando Verdasco, but it's always been dangerous to count the Spanish players out on a clay court.  With Verdasco, you can never discount him anytime.  Nishikori was forced to a fifth set, and may have let this match slip in years past.  He is a more complete player now, though, and his mental strength assisted him in winning an engrossing battle 6-3 6-4 3-6 2-6 6-4.

Two Americans were also taken to five sets, with mixed results.  15th seed John Isner,  down two sets to one against Gabashvili, stuck at his task and prevailed, taking the final two sets 6-4 6-2.
His compatriot and 23rd seed Jack Sock, wasn't as lucky, losing out to Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The hype over Gasquet v Kyrgios was not met with the match for which we hoped.  Gasquet was excellent and just made too few mistakes.  He frustrated the Australian, who couldn't punch through the French player's defences.  After easily winning the first set 6-2, Gasquet only gave Kyrgios one chance and that was in the second set tie breaker.  Once that opportunity had passed Nick was resigned to his fate - a straight sets loss to the 9th seed who must fancy his chances against Nishikori in the fourth round.

Elation for the locals was tempered with 16th seed Gilles Simon bowing out in three sets to 22nd seed Serb Viktor Troicki, while Milos Raonic won easily for a third match in succession, his victim on this occasion Andrej Martin.

Of the eight third round matches played in the women's draw, five were taken to three sets, and we lost three players from the Czech Republic.

Fourth seed Garbine Muguruza from Spain, is in ominous form, and wasted little of her Paris social time in overwhelming Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-0.
In an all Russian tussle, loud grunter Sveta Kuznetsova kept her dream of a second Roland Garros title alive by tossing aside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, and relieving the commentators of significant player pronunciation pressure.

More American mixed emotions - 19th seed Sloane Stephens upset at being upset in two sets by Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria.  Shelby Rogers, however, as high as the Eiffel Tower after smashing 10th seed Petra Kvitova 6-0 twice.  Petra won a tie break in between those first and third set embarrassments, but her marching orders were unaffected.

The Czech Republic, Fed Cup champs as a team, was just having a bad day as individuals, and Lucie Safarova, last year's runner-up to Serena, was ousted by Sam Stosur in three sets.  For once it was the consistency of Stosur's serve which served her well in a victory which puts her into a fourth round clash with Simona Halep.

Halep was in early trouble, losing the first set to Osaka, before she became serious about things and ran all over the top of the ultimately outclassed Japanese player.

Irina-Camelia Begu went missing in the second set, allowing Germany's Annika Beck to level the match, before the Romanian stormed home to book a fourth round clash with Shelby Rogers.  The winner of that will be a surprise quarter finalist - if it is the 25th seed Begu, then one of my tips will have come home.

The third Czech player to leave the tournament was Barbora Strycova, but not before the 30th seed stretched 2nd seed Aga Radwanska to an unwanted third set.  Aga is playing the level of tennis which should take her to a quarter final and possibly beyond.  She plays unseeded Pironkova next.

Day 7 highlights should come from Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev and Carla Suarez Navarro v Dominika Cibulkova

Djokovic, Serena, Tsonga, Bacsinszky, Ferrer, and Keys are others to watch on the first Saturday of this year's Roland Garros.

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