We are getting to the business end of the 2014 French Open and I am already starting to think about the grass court season starting NEXT WEEK! On day 9, Rafael Nadal cruised past Dusan Lajovic for the loss of just four games to set up a quarter-final showdown with David Ferrer, a rematch of the 2013 Roland Garros final. Normally the prospect of a Nadal v Ferrer match doesn’t excite me. This time round though I think it will be a compelling watch, particularly as Ferrer defeated Nadal in their last match on the clay in Monte-Carlo. The best match of the day saw Andy Murray defeat Fernando Verdasco in three tight and entertaining sets. He will play Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals. Tasty…
1. Tomas Berdych v Ernests Gulbis
Sunday’s big upset saw Ernests Gulbis finally produce his best tennis at a Grand Slam as he ousted Roger Federer in five sets, 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-2 4-6 6-3. You can read my full recap of that match HERE. It was the first time since 2008 that Gulbis has made the last eight of a Grand Slam which also happened to be at Roland Garros. This year, the world number 17 has enjoyed a really consistent year. Sunday’s victory validates the improvements he has made, which are starting to make him appear as a legitimate threat on the ATP tour. Next up is Tomas Berdych, who had a very straightforward win over John Isner, 6-4 6-4 6-4.
Berdych and Gulbis have met on six previous occasions with Berdych winning four of them. Gulbis won their only Grand Slam meeting in a shock first round win at Wimbledon. Berdych has won their last two matches, the most recent of those coming in Rotterdam, 6-3 6-2. Gulbis has had a super tournament, but to beat Federer and Berdych would be quite something. Berdych has been extremely solid this week and will be gunning for his second Grand Slam semi-final of the year…
Prediction: Berdych d. Gulbis in 4 sets
2. Milos Raonic v Novak Djokovic
Who would of thought that Milos Raonic‘s first Grand Slam quarter-final would be at the French Open on CLAY. The improvement in Raonic’s game has been pretty rapid this year. After pushing Novak Djokovic to three sets in a gripping Rome semi-final, the Canadian world number 9 gets another shot at the Serb. Raonic was teetering on the edge in the third round when he went down two sets to one to Gilles Simon. The way he turned that match around was mightily impressive. His game looks so much stronger than a year ago. The variety he has added to it has made him a much more versatile player and someone who can cope much better in tight situations. In the fourth round, he swept past the lucky, Marcel Granollers, 6-3 6-3 6-3.
Djokovic also cruised through his last 16 match with a dominant 6-1 6-4 6-1 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I am praying we don’t see this match-up again for the whole year. This could arguably be Djokovic’s toughest match en route to the final. Raonic is due a big win and the way he has been playing and how this tournament has been unfolding, could it happen? This should be a sensational quarter-final. I’m backing Djokovic, but I think Milos is going to continue to shine.
Prediction: Djokovic d. Raonic in 4 sets