French Open Men's Quarter-Final Tips: Nadal and Djokovic heavy favourites to progress
The men's quarter-finals conclude today at the French Open, and returning to preview the day ahead is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
Medvedev's underarm serve on match point takes the headlines
Yesterday's first batch of men's singles quarter-finals were rather devoid of drama, with both pre-match favourites, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, getting straight set victories over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Daniil Medvedev respectively. Tsitsipas versus Medvedev was at least competitive, though, with the latter two sets being pretty tight but the major talking point was Medvedev's underarm serve on match point. If you haven't seen the point, I'd definitely recommend checking out a video of it.
Schwartzman struggling on serve in previous meetings with Nadal
With the favourites getting the job done yesterday, unfortunately more of the same is anticipated today. Rafa Nadal takes a 10-1 head-to-head lead into his clash with Diego Schwartzman, and is just 1.06 to defeat the Argentine this afternoon.
The enormity of Schwartzman's task is illustrated by the data from their previous meetings. He's won just 53% of service points and held serve only 56% of the time, and that's on all surfaces. Schwartzman's service numbers are even worse on clay, with around a 1% drop in both metrics - and that includes his one win against the King of Clay as well.
Nadal and Schwartzman met in this tournament last year in the semi-finals, and Nadal prevailed 6-3 6-3 7-6, with Schwartzman again struggling on serve, winning 52% of service points. However, Schwartzman will take some positives from that match, including actually creating more break point chances. The problem is for Schwartzman is that all the above evidence suggests that he will really struggle on serve today.
Berrettini could keep it close at least against Djokovic
The second quarter-final today between Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini looks a little more competitive, and certainly more serve-orientated. Berrettini, as a heavy underdog, is a very strong server - he's won over 70% of service points on clay in the last 12 months - and this could enable him to keep it close at the very least against the world number one.
Djokovic is 1.25 to get the win, though, which is pretty much exactly where my model is at. I expect him to get the job done in a pretty tight match, certainly more competitive than the Serb's 6-2 6-1 win over Berrettini in the World Tour Finals at the end of 2019, which is their only previous meeting.
One interesting dynamic worth focusing on, however, is the potential fatigue benefit for Berrettini, who received a walkover from Roger Federer while Djokovic faced five sets against Lorenzo Musetti.
Will Djokovic be a little tired after that? It's an interesting question to pose in advance of the match.
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