Roland Garros 2018: Serena withdraws, Zverev endures and Novak adores. Mid-tournament round-up and QF preview

Last time I posted about this year’s French Open it was only day four, Kvitová and Wozniacki looked among the top contenders, Djokovic, Del Potro and Nishikori and Dimitrov were still in contention.

Fast forward a few days and – as we await a full set of mouthwatering quarter finals, a lot has changed.

MEN

Round 3 saw Nadal dismiss Gasquet, Fognini end brave Edmund’s run in five and David Goffin defeat Monfils. Dimitrov limped out and Zverev and Djokovic powered on past tricky opponents.

Fast forward to the 4th round and things really started heating up; Nadal was ‘tested’ again, sort of, whilst on a good day for Argentina, Diego Schwartzman and Juan Martin Del Potro both won in vastly differing fashions; the former fighting back from two sets to love against Anderson and the latter a straight sets win over Isner.

Novak had it easy against a blister ridden Verdasco, the Serb’s next opponent will be journeyman Cecchinato who ousted Goffin in four. Thiem swiped away a weary Nishikori and will face Zverev next – the second seed completing his 3rd five setter in a row!

WOMEN

On a Saturday of shocks in the women’s draw we lost Kvitová (Kontaveit), Svitolina (Buzarnescu – the revelation of the first week here) and Pliskova (Sharapova). Meanwhile Halep found her A-game against awkward Petkovic and there were straight set wins too for Mertens, Kerber, Garcia and Muguruza – all against high calibre opponents. Madison Keyes’ form looks strong, swatting away Osaka whilst Stephens battled past Giorgi and Wozniacki almost double bagelled poor Parmentier.

But then things changed again today – Halep is playing herself into form with every round, and Kerber, Keyes and Stephens all look really good too. But the stories of the round were Tsurenko’s retirement against Muguruza only two games in, Wozniacki’s exit at the hands of Kasatkina and – most of all – Serena’s withdrawal from the tournament with a suspected pectoral injury, denying us all the chance of the standout match at this stage.

Quarter Final predictions

Halep vs Kerber

In the first of the top tier’s battle of the former world number one’s – I fancy Halep to silence Kerber for the second slam this year. Again, the German has been in great form but she’ll come unstuck here.
Halep in three

Muguruza vs Masha

Garbine looked very strong when we saw her last week, hitting the ball cleanly and with pace. As good as Maria’s comeback has been recently, I expect Muguruza to have too much and be a step up too far.
Muguruthless in three

Putintseva vs Keyes

Putintseva was immense against Strycova, but Keyes has steamrollered her way through recent matches and looks to be at her best again.
Keyes in two

Stephens vs Kasatkina

I no precious little about Wozniacki’s usurper, but the 14th seed will be full of confidence heading into this encounter against the reigning US Open champ. Stephens has only just begun again to show that quality which took her so memorably all the way in New York last year. Tough to call.
Kasatkina in three

Nadal vs Schwarzman

Diego showed such gusto in his fightback against Anderson today, but as promoisng as that is for his chances against the King, if he starts slowly again he’ll be gone in a flash.
Nadal in four

Cilic vs Del Potro

What a match-up this is, I haven’t watched much of Juan-Martin this year, but lord knows as a Federer fanatic, I know how unplayable he can be. But this is an ever-stronger Cilic, you see the belief in the Croat now in the slams.
Cilic in four

Cecchinato vs Djokovic

The perfect draw for Novak – this will not test the Serb who has quickly raised his floundering game this fortnight.
Novak in three

Thiem vs Zverev

As good as all the matches are above, if Zverev is somehow still fresh then this promises to be the jewel in the Quarter Final crown. Thiem should have it though.
Thiem in four

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