We’re two rounds into the Roland Garros of 2016 and it’s been a thrilling ride so far with quite a few tight five set matches. My draw breakdown and predictions are going well so far, but we haven’t seen a lot of upsets either. What I’m most impressed with so far is how well the youngsters are holding up: Coric, Kyrgios, Zverev and Thiem. They’re all still there and winning relatively easily. This is the top half of the draw with my predictions:
My two main surprises so far is how well Bedene is playing – edging out Carreno-Busta in five sets and also how Gulbis seems to be back to his best. The Latvian is serving well, hitting hard off both wings and looks confident for a change. He is going to be dangerous for Tsonga, but Tsonga loves Roland Garros and knows how to get the audience behind him. This is what got him back from the brink (two sets down) against Baghdatis yesterday.
Besides Tsonga vs Gulbis, there are some other great match-ups in round 3. Thiem goes up against buddy Zverev for the third time in a week weeks (Thiem has beaten his younger rival in two clay court finals previously). I don’t think Nadal and Djokovic will face any trouble, but Cuevas vs Berdych, Goffin vs Almagro and Ferrer vs Lopez are all interesting contests.
If I’m right with my predictions we can look forward to Nadal vs Thiem and Goffin vs Tsonga in the fourth round. Potential blockbuster matches.
Bottom half then:
The bottom half of the draw is going to give us some dramatic match-ups in round 3. Murray has been struggling in both of his matches and although I predicted Stepanek to give him some bother, I didn’t see Frenchman Borgue go in and play the way he did. Apparently he watched some Muhammad Ali boxing footage before his match and that seemed to help his inspiration.
Taking those two matches into account, it’s hard to see how monster-server Karlovic is going to be any easier for the Scot. However, Murray has won all of their 6 head-to-head matches so I think this match will actually be easier for him than previous matches.
There are some other matches that catch my attention: Gasquet vs Kyrgios, Chardy vs Wawrinka and Verdasco vs Nishikori.
Kyrgios has been playing brilliantly so far and has really impressed me with his calm and collected approach. However, the French crowd might well get into his head against Gasquet and the French one-handed-backhand-wizard has looked pretty comfortable at Roland Garros too. I still have Kyrgios as the favorite. He is simply the better player in my mind.
Last year’s champion Wawrinka hasn’t had his best season to date, but he is one of those players that when he plays well – plays REALLY well. Chardy is a hard-hitting and streaky player, but I don’t feel is mentally strong enough to beat Wawrinka despite being in form.
Verdasco has turned back time and hits his thunderous forehand like it’s 2009. Is it enough to beat Nishikori? No, I don’t think so. Nishikori moves too well and will make sure to get 90% of his shots to the Verdasco backhand. However, this should be a at least four entertaining sets.
Looking at my French Open predictions in total after the first round two rounds, it’s been a good tournament for me. In the first round I got 45 out of 64 matches right. In the second round I got 29 out of 32 matches right. This lands me on a total of 74 out of 96 and a percentage of 77% correct predictions.