By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros

  • Kei Nishikori [7] v Rafael Nadal [2] | Nadal leads H2H 10-2
  • Stan Wawrinka [24] v Roger Federer [3] | Federer leads H2H 22-3
  • Marketa Vondrousova v Petra Martic [31] | Martic leads H2H 4-0
PARIS, FRANCE – The business end is nigh as we enjoy the first day of the quarter-finals, and we cast our eye over the other three matches.

 

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Kei Nishikori [7] v Rafael Nadal [2] | Nadal leads H2H 10-2

Rafael Nadal in the first round of Roland Garros 2019, France

Rafael Nadal in the first round of Roland Garros 2019, France | (THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

So far, it is fair to say that record-holding 11-time champion Rafael Nadal has not really been troubled on his journey towards bidding for a remarkable 12th title. Only David Goffin put a wrinkle on his record this year taking a set off him in the third round, but outside of that, he has been barely troubled.

Of course, it is a different story for the diminutive but still at times troublesome Kei Nishikori. For the quietly determined Japanese player, who started comfortably enough with a straight setter, progressed to four sets over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before delivering a brace of five-setters to arrive at this point – just what you need before playing the master of the grind, on the surface to bring you quite literally to your knees.

Of their three encounters on clay, it has gone Nadal’s way every time, and we have seen nothing in Nadal’s progress to suggest this will not end up the same way. He has been moving extremely well, striking the ball well, and to be honest after Nishikori’s time on court, it would be nothing short of a miracle if this is not a straight sets win.

Prediction: Nadal in straight sets.

 

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Stan Wawrinka [24] v Roger Federer [3] | Federer leads H2H 22-3

In our book a rival for Sloane Stephens and Johanna Konta as match of the day, and on at the same time, Roger Federer perhaps will face his biggest test at this year’s Roland Garros when he faces Stan Wawrinka. Federer has not been troubled in the slightest through his path to the quarter-finals, while Wawrinka has had to play three days in a row, including the bruising epic with Stefanos Tsitsipas that went over the five-hour mark.

We are also in for a treat in another battle of the one-handed backhands. More than that, we will see the balletic play of Federer, who has had some major pop on his shots, against the aggressive baseline play of Wawrinka. The edge in terms of the famed backhands might have to sit with Wawrinka though. The racket head speed and velocity of his version of the shot has always been the more aggressive of the two men, but Federer’s variety and the fact he will be fresher in to this encounter by almost five hours of court time will have an effect.

However, Wawrinka lacks nothing when it comes to fighting spirit – that he is back at this level coming back from knee surgery seems to be inspiring him to heady heights and so expect him to be the first player to take a set off Federer.

Prediction: Federer in four sets.

 

READ MORE | Tennis | Roland Garros 2019 | Konta rolls into the quarter-finals, faces last year’s runner-up Stephens next

 

Marketa Vondrousova v Petra Martic [31] | Martic leads H2H 4-0

Petra Martic in the third round of Roland Garros 2019, France

Petra Martic in the third round of Roland Garros 2019, France | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Maybe the surprise package in a section of the draw that no-one saw coming as one by one the seeds tumbled – Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki to name but three.

Petra Martic’s run is very reminiscent of that made by the recently retired Lucie Safarova. The quietly consistent player in clay who has made good while this quarter has imploded, largely under the radar.

Vondrousova is another of the teens looking to advance further. She has picked off a couple of very solid players along the way (Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round, Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth, but in Martic she faces the task of getting her first win over the vastly more experienced No. 31 seed.

Vondrousova actually has yet to drop a set here (even defending champion Simona Halep has had two three-setters already!) and Martic had to come from a set down to secure her quarter-final berth.

A tough one to call but experience will lend itself to Martic to halt the teen in her tracks.

Prediction: Martic in three sets.

 

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