(6) Tomas Berdych vs. (27) Robeto Bautista Agut
Joey:Β This has been an incredible breakout year for Bautista Agut, who won so many matches earlier that he earned himself a seed at the French Open. It came out of relatively nowhere, as Bautista Agut had hung around 100th in the world for the last two years. Berdych has been, well, very Berdych-like this year; very solid results all around and he won a title in Rotterdam. The two recently met in Indian Wells and Bautista Agut pulled off the upset in three sets. Both guys hit big, flat strokes from the baseline, and it’s really a matter of who can get the control of the rallies. Clay is Berdych’s worst surface, while RBA loves it…so this once should be very, very close. RBA will grind to the death and make Berdych hit just a few too many extra balls. Bautista Agut 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Ricky: On an American hard court, Isner would have a massive edge. In peak form on clay, Robredo would likely have a decent advantage. Neither is the case here. Robredo will enjoy the surface, but his 2014 campaign has been a disappointment relative to an awesome 2013 that was highlighted by performances at the French Open and U.S. Open. Crucially for Isner, the big guy conserved energy by avoiding long matches in his first two rounds. He managed to just barely hold off Mikhail Kukushkin on Wednesday before going to a fifth set. Also, Friday is expected to be sunny and somewhat warm. That’s bad news for Robredo, who would prefer conditions similar to those of the first five days. Isner 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 7-6(5), 6-4.
Joey:Β Robredo has played some memorable matches at Roland Garros in the past, including last year when he came back from two sets to love down an amazing three matches in a row. He’s had a slightly down season thus far, only reaching one semifinal (Buenos Aires). Isner has gotten through his two matches will relative ease, only dropping one set. It’s always important for the American to get through his early-round matches quickly so that he has enough energy later in the tournament. Robredo will likely be standing at the back fence of Court 1 to return serve and it will be interesting to see how often Isner uses the kick serve to pull Robredo off the court. The most important thing is that Isner does not get in protracted exchanges that have him on the defensive. Isner 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 10-8.
Ricky: This intriguing, big-hitting matchup features two men who were thought to be no worse than outside contenders for London berths in 2014. To say that is not the case after five months would be an understatement. Janowicz’s French Open performance so far may be more surprising, but only because he was in outrageously dismal form leading up to it. Tsonga, who was at least winning matches every now and then, took care of Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straights then destroyed Jurgen Melzer. Playing at home and once again thriving in a major atmosphere, Tsonga suddenly looks like a man on a mission. Tsonga 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-2.
Joey: The crowd on Chatrier should be electric for this one. Both Tsonga and Janowicz have had subpar seasons, especially the Pole. However, Tsonga loves playing in front of a home crowd and Janowicz seems to be regaining some form this week. Tsonga’s movement is excellent and Janowicz is probably the best mover on clay of all the big guys on tour. Tsonga will look to dictate with his forehand, while Janowicz will want to play first-strike tennis off of both sides. The No. 22 seed’s forehand can be lethal, but it’s also prone to break down. If Janowicz can manage his forehand, this match should be close. Either way, Tsonga will feed off the energy in the crowd and pull this one out. Tsonga 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2.
Marcel Granollers vs. Martin Klizan
Ricky: Perhaps one of the most overlooked and surprising stats of this season is that Klizan is an incredible 16-4 at the ATP level. That record includes a recent clay-court title in Munich, from which he has not looked back. The Slovak thrashed Kei Nishikori in round one then battled past Robin Haase 7-5 in the fifth on Wednesday. Granollers came back from two sets to love down to upset Alexandr Dolgopolov, but the Spaniard got an obvious assist from an injured Ukrainian. Klizan 6-2, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
Joey:Β Many people expected Nishikori to be in this spot of the draw, but a small injury combined with some inspired play from Klizan has led us to a surprise third-round matchup. Klizan has regained some of the form that saw him get to a career high ranking of 26th in the world in in 2012-13. He qualified and won the tournament in Munich last month and is hitting his forehand huge right now. You pretty much know what you’re going to get from Granollers. He plays very steady and likes to come into the net when he gets the chance. You can also expect this match to be fairly loud, because both guys have pretty impressive grunts…if you’re impressed by that sort of thing. Klizan 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5.