French Open R4 previews and picks: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Raonic vs. Granollers

Djoker 2Milos Raonic is round one away from getting another shot at Novak Djokovic, whom he extended to three sets in Rome. Raonic is facing Marcel Granollers during fourth-round French Open action on Sunday, while Djokovic is going up against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

(13) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (2) Novak Djokovic

Djokovic and Tsonga will be squaring off for the 17th time in their careers and for the second time at the French Open when they collide in a marquee fourth-rounder on Sunday. The head-to-head series stands at 11-5 overall and just 2-0 on clay, both in Djokovic’s favor. They have not faced each other since last fall, when the Serb prevailed 6-2, 7-5 in the Shanghai semifinals. Their previous Roland Garros showdown came in the 2012 quarterfinals, a thriller that saw Djokovic saved multiple match points in a 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1 victory.

Tsonga has given his French fans at least some reason to be encouraged so far this fortnight, but this still is not the Tsonga of 2012. He is down at No. 14 in the world and headed into this event with just a 17-10 record on the season. Tsonga is playing relatively well, but his win over a woefully out-of-form Jerzy Janowicz should not be overrated. Djokovic has taken out Joao Sousa, Jeremy Chardy, and Marin Cilic, dropping a set to Cilic in the process. The world No. 2 will force his opponent to hit far more shots than Janowicz and Jurgen Melzer did in the previous two rounds, and the current Tsonga is not likely to be able to do it.

Pick: Djokovic in 3 losing fewer than 13 games

(8) Milos Raonic vs. Marcel Granollers

Raonic and Granollers will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers on Sunday. That probably is not good news for Granollers, who would be better-served to have seen the Raonic serve at least on one previous occasion. It also looks like the end of a great draw for the Spaniard, who got a retirement from Ivan Dodig in round one, outlasted a hobbled Alexandr Dolgopolov in five sets, then beat an unseeded Martin Klizan in the last 32.

While Granollers had to finish off Klizan in a fourth set on Saturday, Raonic got the job done against Gilles Simon just before darkness on Friday. The ninth-ranked Canadian survived early deficits before advancing 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. Raonic is 18-7 for the year, which is getting better and better with each tournament and saw him extend Djokovic to three sets in the Rome semifinals. Granollers has a crafty all-court game, but Raonic’s serve and power groundstrokes will keep the underdog off balance and away from the net.

Pick: Raonic in 3 with at least 1 tiebreaker

47 Comments on French Open R4 previews and picks: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Raonic vs. Granollers

  1. “Angelique Kerber: She advances to week two, but this lapse in sportsmanship — unforced error by omission — against Hantuchova will stick with her. This was not a judgment call; this was a blatant error by the chair. And the opponent shouldn’t accepted improper benefits. ”

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/news/20140531/french-open-midterm-grades-maria-sharapova-rafael-nadal/#ixzz33KSZ4LdJ

    So, Kerber is held to a higher moral standard than Djokovic? Didn’t Djokovic benefit from an illegally gained point against Muzza, wherein he feigned ignorance of the net rule? I never heard the media going after Djokovic and say he “shouldn’t have accepted improper benefits” like they are going after Kerber.

    Hypocrites.

  2. Strange, many people seem not to like the prospect of a Rafa-Novak final, when everybody knows that could be the best thing for any tournament. I am rooting for both Rafa and Novak to reach the final and give us a great match. May the better man win.

    • I don’t think objectivity goes with being a fan that’s the whole idea of being a fan (short for fanatic). Call it short sighted, tunnel vision, one track mind, blind loyalty, narrow minded, whatever, they are all compatible with fandom.

      Hell will freeze over before I prefer a great match to Rafa lifting the trophy If Rafa wins by playing Mickey Mouse in the final, that’ll do for me.

      • ^^Truth!

        I always chuckle when I hear people say, “I am an objective fan of player x” Huh? Oxymoronic, much? A fanatic cannot be objective, by definition! Objective observer, yes. Objective Rafan, Nolefan, Muzzafan? Pull the other one……….

        And……it’s okay, it’s allowed… to be totally irrational that is! Well, once in a while, when the object of the irrationality is……Rafa, of course. 😀

  3. Novak will beat Tsonga, despite the best efforts of the French crowd. I voted for Novak winning, losing more than 13 games. If Tsonga is on his game, then he might get a set but Novak will win this match.

    I pick Raonic for the win against Granollers. I think Granollers was lucky to get this far, but it will stop here. I voted for Raonic in three sets with at least one tiebreaker.

  4. augusta, well, I am a tennis fan and I have been one since a tender age. I started following tennis when Johny Mac was on his last leg. I have somewhat vague memory of him playing. But I used to like his game. A few years down the line, new stars were born. I used to like them all. Edberg,Sampras, Agassi and some other not so famous players. Then Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray..I became a fan of them all, one by one. I dont post very often, mosty due to lack of time and some laziness on my part. But, tennis is what keeps my life going. I will never retire from watching this magnificent sport.

    • @netrush, I am not being facetious but amongst the current Big 4 you list above, you don’t have a favourite pecking order? I ask because I have, a pecking order that is, and I suffer from the conceit of thinking everyone suffers from the same maladies I have!

      C’mon, you must “feel” for one more than the rest! It’s okay if you’re not a Rafan, nobody’s perfect!

  5. I was a huge JMac fan and wanted him to win everything including scrabble or under water basket weaving; after JMac i liked Edberg and rooted for him against anyone but after that, I wasn’t a fan of anyone, I decided who to back if I liked their kit or because they were the underdog on the day; later on I backed anyone against Federer because I just din’t get the hype that surrounded him.

    One bright sunny day sometime in 2005, I saw a Spanish kid and thought that’s it, that’s what I’ve been looking for. I never thought any player would surpass JMac in my estimation but I am sure no other player would surpass Rafa in my estimation.

  6. I can’t imagine should England do well, thinking it would be better to see great football than England winning the WC and that goes for any other nationality.

  7. RITB, for what its worth, I had invested a big part of my time and mind on Federer after watching him play Sampras in 2001 Wimbledon. Like people fall in love during their teenage, it was my time and my age to fall in love with the player I felt I will spend a lot of time during my next phase of life. The feeling was instantaneous as it was slow. With time the liking grew as happens ususually. Then, one fine morning, I read about one Spanish player winning every clay tournament he played that year. He had been touted by most people to win the French Open on debue. I wanted to see how good he is.

    Well, good he was. He beat Federer in the semis and some Argentine ( I think its Puerta) to win the FO. From that day I knew this guy is going to challenge Federer like none before, though my initial reaction was a bit of surprise mixed with awe. For someone who liked Federer’s style of playing, it took me some time to really appreciate the warrior in Rafa. But, with time I grew the kind of liking for Rafa in me that can come with age. I was a Roger fan, but thereafter I didn’t forever remain a fan of Roger only..slowly but surely I became a Rafa fan too…may be not like nadline but of course in my very own intimate way.

    Novak and Andy are also special talents and hard working individuals. I think they along with Rafa will dominate the next two three years. This should be good for tennis.

    By the way, I really like this site and the posters here especially nadline. May be she is the extreme opposite of what I am as a tennis fan (in the absence of any other suitable word I will keep using it), but she has a lot in her that often puts a smile on my face when I read her posts. FYI, I have been following you people from the Tennistalk days, though never posted anything there.

    • @netrush, thank you for indulging me, fantastic insight! And yes, you have good taste in posters, @nadline is a gem! Phew, that goodness she is a Rafan!

    • I only came to read this section of this thread now.

      Netrush, welcome dear lurker ;-)!

      I discovered Roger and Rafa at the same time. Had been away from watching tennis long enough that I didn’t even know who Roger was when I by chance watched their first RG encounter from early in the first set. And became a Rafa fan right there.

  8. Don’t know why but my reply to RITB’s post at 7:29 am is not coming under the main post.

  9. I think my handle indicates clearly who I root for! I have been a tennis fan for years…started with Sabatini and then Seles. Then I moved on to the ATP and Guga was my man. I’ve always favorited a player vs. just watching tennis for fun.

    • ^^Won’t bother Djoko if he is hitting it hard and it lands in the tramlines, which is what Tsonga is doing now! GGL hit the ball hard AND forced Djoko to defend, thus inflicting the damage. Tsonga is not doing that………………

  10. Novak never had to come out of his comfort zone. It’s as if Jo went into that match with no game plan at all. Novak was firing on all wings, he was taking the ball early like he always does, and he was standing inside the baseline for ROS on second serves. It’s one thing for Jo to not be able to execute a potential winning strategy, it’s another thing to have no strategy at all. Novak meets Raonic next and you can bet that the young Milos will be well prepared, regardless of the reality that he’s unlikely to win.

    • @jpacnw,

      I do believe that Raonic will make more of a match of it. However, it’s a whole different thing to play Novak in a best three out of five set match. Raonic better be prepared fitness wise to hang in there for the duration.

      • nny7: I don’t give Milos much hope in a best 3 out of 5 against Novak. While Milos’ fitness has improved, he’s not in Novak’s league in that department. His first serve is going to have to be working throughout the match. In Novak’s on court interview after his Rome semi-final against Milos, Novak said that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt that frustrated during ROS. He was having a lot of trouble reading Milos’ serve and when he did return them, they lacked the depth of his normal ROS and it allowed Milos to then dictate the point. Milos’ first serve will be crucial in their upcoming match.

        I often think of Rafa’s Charlie Rose interview after his US Open win last year against Novak. Rafa said that one of the keys to winning against Novak is “to create him some confusion.” Let’s hope that Milos can do that.

  11. @jpacnw,

    I agree. I even said that Tsonga might get a set if he was on his game! Too funny! But my official prediction was three sets. However, I did not expect it to be that easy. Unfortunately, Tsonga has not really done much this year. I think he’s kind of stuck. I don’t see him improving in any areas and maybe even slipping a bit. This was a disappointing effort.

    @netrush,

    It’s nice to have you here. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I know that some have questioned how I support Rafa as his fan, but I know that in my heart he is the only one I care about and suffer any time he loses. I am way too emotionally invested in him for my own good, but there’s no help for it. I will continue to support Rafa in my own way always. I believe that you can have a favorite, yet still appreciate other players and their games. I try to use Rafa as my example. He is always so complimentary and respectful to his rivals. I don’t tell anyone else how to be a Rafa fan. That’s not my place. I just prefer to enjoy watching him and cheering him on as hard as possible.

    • @jpacnw,

      I think you make some excellent points about the difficult task facing Raonic. I also found it quite interesting to hear Novak’s thoughts on returning Raonic’s serve. You rarely see him get that frustrated against another player. To hear him say that he couldn’t get depth on his ROS against Raonic, is saying something. But I do agree that Raonic doesn’t have the fitness level yet to hang with Novak in a best three out of five set match. However, what I do like about him is how calm and poised he seems even in the tough moments of a match. I thought he kept it together well the last time he played Novak. He does have some mental toughness, so maybe he won’t fold when the going gets tough. I still think Novak gets the win, but it would be nice if the match was competitive.

  12. @netrush,

    I am glad that you feel that way. We may have our disagreements, but I think there is a love of this sport that comes through loud and clear. We are lucky that Ricky has created another home for all of us after TT bit the dust.

    I enjoy reading your comments and look forward to reading more! 🙂

  13. Rafa and Novak have been having an easy time of their matches….. hope it continues in the quarters for Rafa!!…………he he!!

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