By Jake Davies

  • Novak Djokovic [20] vs Fernando Verdasco [30]
  • Daria Kasatkina [14] vs Caroline Wozniacki [2]
  • Karen Khachanov vs Alexander Zverev [2]
PARIS, FRANCE – As the first week draws to an end, we look at the first of the fourth round encouters and our picks for Day Eight at Roland Garros.

 

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Novak Djokovic [20] vs Fernando Verdasco [30] | H2H: Djokovic leads 10-4

The former French Open champion Novak Djokovic faces a very tricky, explosive and aggressive opponent in his fourth round match as he tries to conquer the dangerous Fernando Verdasco. Djokovic really has improved match by match this week in Paris and his first real clinical performance of this Grand Slam came in his third round match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

It felt like the Serb had raised his game in correlation with the step up in opponent he was playing. The Spaniard gives virtually nothing away for free in long trades from the baseline and although Djokovic is set to come up against another man hailing from Spain, his game-plan will be very different.

Verdasco is much more unpredictable, goes for risky shots on a lot of his rally balls and his level can be very erratic at the best of times, especially in elongated matches in a best-of-five format. Verdasco has the tools to upset most of the elite players, but his issue is finding the consistency and maintaining that high level long enough to make the top players stand up and take notice.

He had a very big win over Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, but I think Djokovic will be too solid for him and has gained confidence in his mental toughness over Best-of-five after that 4 hour epic with Bautista Agut.

Prediction: Djokovic in four sets

 

Daria Kasatkina [14]  vs Caroline Wozniacki [2] | H2H: Kasatkina leads 2-1

Daria kasatkina in the third round of Roland Garros, 2018

Daria Kasatkina in the third round of Roland Garros, 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki has strolled through most of her matches so far, barely dropping games to Georgina Garcia-Perez and Pauline Parmentier, but now she has to overcome a player that thrives on the red clay. Daria Kasatkina, in contrast, had to come through a difficult third round against Maria Sakkari, where she was very up and down and struggled behind serve, but her defensive capabilities shone through and she will need to match one of the game’s great defenders on Sunday.

I think I would give Kasatkina the edge in this match. Wozniacki is one of the great baseline defenders in women’s tennis, but there are holes in her game when it comes to applying what she knows on a clay court and I think there are ways the Russian can do some serious damage and take advantage of a surface she plays very well on.

Prediction: Kasatkina in three sets.

 

Karen Khachanov vs Alexander Zverev [2] H2H: Zverev leads 1-0

Alexander Zverev in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018

Alexander Zverev in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018 | (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)

Karen Khachanov is quietly going unnoticed as he makes his way to a fourth round showing for the second year in a row in Paris. His third round win over Frenchman Lucas Pouille was as impressive as it gets. Renowned for the velocity of his forehand, Khachanov showed more than just that in this match as he demonstrated an improvement in his weaker backhand and also defended the court very well for a player known for their aggression.

He faces No.2 seed Alexander Zverev next, who has struggled through his last two rounds, needing to win in five sets in both, but it is the character he has shown in those moments of adversity that still puts him up there as a serious Grand Slam contender. His record away from majors at Masters 1000 level does not lie, but he will feel it is time to get past that fourth round hurdle and make it to the quarter-final for the first time in his career.

Zverev talked about the results meaning a lot more than how he gets his work done on the court, but it will be interesting to see how he approaches this match after the amount of physical energy he has expended in the early stages of this tournament. This is his biggest challenge so far, but I think he will get through in the end.

Prediction: Zverev in four sets.

Play continues at Roland Garros at 11am (10am BST).

Main Image: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

 

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