By Jake Davies

  • Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova [28]
  • Marin Cilic [3] vs Fabio Fognini [18]
  • Simona Halep [1] vs Elise Mertens [16]
PARIS, FRANCE – With the quarter-final lineup close to being determined, we size up the best of the fourth round action on Day 9 of Roland-Garros.

 

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Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova [28] H2H: Williams leads 19-2

In what looks to be one of the most eagerly anticipated fourth round matches in quite some time at Grand Slam level, Serena Williams takes on her fierce rival Maria Sharapova. Williams’ return after a year away from Grand Slam action has proved to be a successful one, after three very good wins picked up in the first week, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion will be focused on getting the better of the two-time French Open champion and competing for those Grand Slam titles once again.

Maria Sharapova in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018

Maria Sharapova in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Sharapova’s own comeback from a doping suspension has been rather scratchy but has gained some real momentum during this year’s clay court season and the best win of the lot came against Karolina Pliskova in the previous round, where she dropped just three games and really never gave the Czech the time to get set on the clay.

The head-to-head in this particular match-up makes for hard reading for the Russian. Williams leads it 19-2, has won 18 of the last 18 matches and has dropped just the one set against Sharapova in those matches since all the way back in 2008. It is one of the most lopsided head-to-heads of modern rivalries in tennis, but the question is can Sharapova take advantage of Williams’ lack of match-play and get that win?

You could argue that if Sharapova was ever going to get that rare win, then it would probably come on this surface and in this moment as Williams tries to regain her footwork on court and the level in her groundstrokes, but Williams finds a way to raise her game in these matches and I think the tension that clearly exists in this head-to-head, Williams uses it a very positive way, whereas from a mental standpoint, this is the one match that Sharapova just finds impossible to excel in. For that very reason I’m going with Williams

Prediction: Williams in two sets

 

READ MORE | Roland Garros 2018 | Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova: Two journeys, one French Open fourth round, many words | Three thoughts

 

Marin Cilic [3] vs Fabio Fognini [18] H2H: Cilic leads 2-1

Marin Cilic in the second round of Roland Garros, 2018

Marin Cilic in the second round of Roland Garros, 2018 | (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

The most appealing ATP match on Day 9 of Roland-Garros sees the No.3 seed Marin Cilic and Fabio Fognini take to the court for a chance to be a 2018 quarter-finalist here. Cilic is doing what he usually does during these Grand Slams and that is making progress in the early stages, but beating Fognini on the red dirt of Paris would be a very big win for the former US Open champion.

Cilic admittedly has a game tailor-made for doing well on the hard and grass court, but he is one of the rare big guys in tennis that actually moves very well on the red clay as well and that is why his results on this surface have always been good. He is able to blast through the court with his big groundstrokes and his movement still gets him by. I would give Cilic the slender edge in this one. The Croatian very rarely loses his cool and I think he will be the steadier and more reliable of the two in keeping it all together over the best-of-five. Fognini will most likely have those high moments where he plays inspired tennis, but can he reach those heights for long enough to threaten Cilic?

Prediction: Cilic in five sets

 

READ MORE | Roland Garros 2018 | Latest Tennis Schedules & Draws

Roland Garros 2018 | Latest Tennis Schedules & Draws

 

Simona Halep [1] vs Elise Mertens [16] H2H: Halep leads 1-0

Simona Halep in the first round of the French Open, Roland Garros 2018

Simona Halep in the first round of the French Open, Roland Garros 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The World No.1 Simona Halep had a head-scratching start opener against Alison Riske, where it took her a set to find her better level of tennis but has since made it through the draw with relative ease. Her latest win against Andrea Petkovic was a very good one considering this was a Roland-Garros semi-final match four years ago and although Petkovic may be outside the World’s Top 100, the German still thinks like a Top-10 player, so remains a very difficult opponent.

Halep’s next opponent is the Belgian No.1 Elise Mertens. Not many players can boast a better record in 2018 than the Belgian, who has frankly been a winning machine and continued the level of her play in this clay court swing, picking up two titles. She is clearly unfazed by the step up to Grand Slam level as she showed in Melbourne, where she made the semi-final and it looks like she really believes in the process she is undertaking with the people at the Kim Clijsters Academy.

I think that Halep gets the nod in this match. Halep won handily when they met in Madrid a few weeks back, although it was played under very different conditions, but the Romanian knows that as good as Mertens is, the Belgian will not blast her off the court and take the racquet out of her hands like Jelena Ostapenko did in the final last year.

Prediction: Halep in two sets

 

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