Paris R3 previews and picks: Murray vs. Dimitrov, Nishikori vs. Tsonga

Murray winsAndy Murray’s grueling stretch of tennis will continue on Thursday in Paris, where he awaits a third-round date with fellow London contender Grigor Dimitrov. Kei Nishikori and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are also looking for a place in the quarterfinals.

(9) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (8) Andy Murray

Tommy Robredo finally gave out in his second-round match at the BNP Paribas Masters on Wednesday, going down to Kei Nishikori in three sets after winning the first set. That came three days after a brutal loss to Murray in a marathon of a Valencia Open final. Now it is Murray who will contest his second Paris match on Thursday after opening with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Julien Benneteau. If the eighth-ranked Scot is fatigued, it won’t be a result of Valencia alone. His fall swing includes all three of his 2014 titles (also in Shenzhen and Vienna) and he has played 22 matches since the U.S. Open–winning 20 of them.

Up next for Murray is Dimitrov, against whom the No. 8 seed is 3-2 lifetime and 0-2 this season. Dimitrov prevailed 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) in Acapulco and 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. While the 23-year-old Bulgarian is technically on the rise more than Murray is right now, it is the two-time major champion who is a different player since their last two meetings. Dimitrov has been mostly stuck in neutral since Wimbledon, whereas Murray seems to getting better and better with each day as his bad back becomes more and more a thing of the past. This is a must-win for the underdog’s World Tour Finals chances, while Murray can officially lock up a spot without having too much pressure on him to do so.

Pick: Murray in 3

(10) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (6) Kei Nishikori

There is a chance Nishikori would not officially clinch London with a victory on Thursday, but it would take a borderline miracle for him not to make it if he defeats Tsonga. The U.S. Open runner-up kicked off his week by overcoming Robredo 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-3 as he improved to 50-11 for the year. Nishikori dropped his Shanghai opener to Jack Sock, but that was preceded by titles in Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.

The world No. 7 is 3-1 lifetime against Tsonga having most recently downed the Frenchman at this same event in 2013, when Nishikori survived a second-round thriller 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(7). Tsonga is struggling toward the finish line of what would have been a disastrous 2014 campaign had it not been for an out-of-nowhere title in Toronto. Paris’ No. 10 seed lost early in Metz and Tokyo but returned from a three-week layoff to battle past Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 on Wednesday. Current form, court speed, and head-to-head history all favor Nishikori in this one.

Pick: Nishikori in 2

11 Comments on Paris R3 previews and picks: Murray vs. Dimitrov, Nishikori vs. Tsonga

  1. Pleeeze. How many more times are commentators (and journalists) going to remind us Djokovic is now a father. So what. Anybody would think he was the one who had just given birth to Stefan.

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