Another day with rain in Paris prevented Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal from getting on the court, which means Wednesday they will kick off a jam-packed schedule with simultaneous matches at 5 a.m. ET.
Here’s who’s left in the French Open quarterfinals.
Djokovic has clearly gotten a great boost out of Andre Agassi joining his team for the French Open. But in some ways, the game of the struggling former No. 1 still looks like a tarnished version of the one that won him this and so many other titles in recent years. We have yet to see the pre-summer of 2016 Novak Djokovic.
Thiem’s outstanding Euroclay season preceding the French Open ended with the tired Austrian taking a painful 6-1, 6-0 loss to Djokovic in the Rome semifinals. He’s better — much better — than that. You just know that hard-charging Thiem’s coaches are telling him, “Djokovic will be overconfident; we’ve got him right where we want him!”
Nadal has played such dazzling tennis that it raises an interesting question: If he experiences an inevitable letdown, will he handle adversity without falling prey to the self-doubts that haunted him so recently? I wouldn’t bet on Nadal faltering — not at Roland Garros, not when he’s come this far and banked so much confidence.
Carreno has had a great tournament, highlighted by a praiseworthy five-set win (8-6 in the fifth) over No. 5 seed Milos Raonic in the round of 16. He’s 6-foot-2 and talented — but basically a color-by-numbers clay-court expert from Spain whom Nadal will eat for lunch any day of the week.
Murray came into this tournament amid low expectations. He’s won just one tournament and beaten just one top-10 player all year. But he’s No. 1 in the world for a reason, has built a lot of momentum and has had to overcome a diverse group of opponents to get this far.
Nishikori is one of those players whose counterpunching, baseline-rooted game is actually less effective on clay than slightly faster hard courts. Murray is bigger, stronger, equally steady and less apt to run out of steam late in a tournament.
Wawrinka is once again within striking distance of the title, this time without having dropped a set and riding an eight-match winning streak. Even Rafael Nadal, as well as he’s playing, has to be concerned, because there isn’t a player Wawrinka cannot hit through when he’s on.
Cilic continues to be a bit of a mystery, a Grand Slam champion (US Open, 2014) who has an A-game and physique but seems to struggle with confidence and motivation. His tools are similar to those of Wawrinka, but Cilic has lost his last seven in row to the Swiss.
Halep has looked terrific thus far in the tournament, but this is a critical match for her. Trouble is, she’s looked great before only to lose the plot and play below standard when she needs to step it up a notch. The pressure is on, and she’ll be playing an up-and-coming player who beat her going away in the final in Rome.
Svitolina, a 22-year old from the Ukraine, is the tour leader with wins at 35-6, with four titles. Her major weakness has been mediocre results at the tournaments that count the most, the Grand Slam events. She looks primed to turn that around in a big way, motivated no doubt by that big win in Rome.
Pliskova can be seen as the Andy Murray of the women’s draw. She’s had a mediocre clay season at best, and her Roland Garros hasn’t been smooth ride. But she’s a survivor, and that will make the largely overlooked No. 2 seed doubly dangerous because she earned her big-match spurs as a US Open finalist last year.
Garcia is the figurative wild card in this draw. Long hailed as a potential Grand Slam champ, the 5-foot-10, 23-year-old from France may finally be making good on that promise right before our eyes. True, she had a great draw; but her fourth-round win over rival and countrywoman Alize Cornet was impressive.