French Open Day 9 picks, including Nadal vs. Sock and Ferrer vs. Cilic

Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand and Pete Ziebron of Tennis Acumen preview and pick two of the men’s singles matches on Monday at the French Open. Fourth-round action includes Rafael Nadal vs. Jack Sock and David Ferrer vs. Marin Cilic.

Jack Sock vs. (6) Rafael Nadal

Ricky: This is tennis’ Revolutions Per Minute on the Forehand Bowl. Sock is the only player on tour who hits with more RPMs on his forehand than Nadal. Unfortunately for the 22-year-old American, a place in a Grand Slam quarterfinal is not decided by RPMs. That being said, he should be able to make this one competitive. Sock is playing the best tennis of his life–by far–with a fourth-round showing in Indian Wells, a title on the red clay of Houston, and French Open victories over Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta, and Borna Coric. The world No. 37 has never faced Nadal and he has played only one member of the “Big 4” (lost to Roger Federer 6-3, 6-2 earlier this year in Indian Wells). He has also never been to the fourth round of slam. Nadal, of course, is a nine-time champion of this event and he is playing like it after a slow start to the season. The Spaniard has not come close to dropping a set while taking out Quentin Halys, Nicolas Almagro, and Andrey Kuznetsov. Sock’s rise has already reached new heights this fortnight; asking him to go even higher against this particular opponent on this particular surface is too much. Nadal 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3.

Pete: Despite winning the U.S. Clay Court Championship earlier this spring, Sock stumbled into Roland Garros with a 1-3 mark on European clay. So how exactly is Sock in the fourth round of the French Open facing a nine-time champion in Nadal? Impressive wins over Dimitrov, Carreno Busta, and Coric have propelled Sock into the second week. Meanwhile, all sorts of questions have followed Nadal into Paris after sub-par clay Masters 1000 results. However, his play on Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen thus far has been impeccable. Expect the heavy conditions that are forecasted to give Sock an early advantage before Nadal finds his way into the match late in the second set. Nadal 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4.

(9) Marin Cilic vs. (7) David Ferrer

Ricky: Somehow Ferrer and Cilic have not gone head-to-head in more than five years. They both play a ton of tournaments and go deep in many of them, yet they have still not met since the 2010 Madrid Masters. Cilic has done especially well to set up what will be their fifth career encounter (Ferrer leads the series 3-1, including 1-0 on clay). The 2009 U.S. Open champion is finally rounding into form with dominant wins in Paris over Robin Haase, Andrea Arnaboldi, and Leonardo Mayer. He had been a mere 4-6 on the season prior to this event. Ferrer, on the other hand, has been a model of consistency. But the veteran Spaniard is looking just a little bit vulnerable having cooled off just a bit since January and February and he needed five sets to get past Simone Bolelli on Saturday. Still, a long match (and it wasn’t even that long) will have little impact on Ferrer and it will not hurt that he is battle-tested. This a steep step up in competition for Cilic, who has not defeated anyone better than 14th in the world since the U.S. Open. Ferrer 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Pete: Entering Roland Garros, Cilic had just an 11-11 record on the ATP Tour since his U.S. Open title. However, the Croat has now won 10 consecutive matches in Grand Slam play, including 19 straight sets. Unfortunately for Cilic, up next is Ferrer–the 2013 Roland Garros runner-up who can exhale for a moment after surviving a scare in the last round from Bolelli. Expect Ferrer to get into his business as usual mode against Cilic, as the 33 year-old Spaniard lives up to his “little beast” moniker to advance to the quarterfinals for the sixth time. Ferrer 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(4).

63 Comments on French Open Day 9 picks, including Nadal vs. Sock and Ferrer vs. Cilic

    • Reminds me of the old days – Rafa with his back against the wall and pulling out the win.
      A joy to see him doing the arm pump with knee jerk.

  1. 6-2 it is! rafa’s response was like a 9-time RG champion ! he was not scared at all.

    Djokovic is the favourite but rafa obviously has a very good chance too! rafa has steadied his game A LOT as compared to the clay season but I am not sure if it’s steady enough. the UE count is still too high . His forehand was better today but overall he needs more stability. May be it was good that he got tested?

    • I think that getting tested and coming through showing so much fight, no fear….will have been good for him actually. that gives you a lot of faith in yourself to know that you can fight in the crucial moments. otherwise there would have been a question mark in his mind…now we know that come what may he will fight like the champion he is….that, more than anything, the ability to play with aggression and composure under pressure will determine the match.
      but he’s gotta learn to serve it out!!

  2. this picking on one rule to enforce…the one which harms Rafa.. and ignoring the others…Murray and Kygrios swearing copiously and loudly match after match for example…is just utterly unfair. the umpire gave him no prior warning….when are the journalists going to do their job and actually point this out in all the columns they write….come on Ricky, start the ball rolling!!

    • The tennis channel commentators were going after the chair umpire for giving Rafa the code violation and docking him a first serve in a crucial moment of the match. Jim Courier was saying that Rafa is consistently taking too much time, but it’s not gamesmanship and they should not wait until a critical point in the match. They should warn him or do it early or on a meaningless point. That’s what he said. That this has to stop! I agree!

      • nny, yes it is ridiculous given that they don’t enforce any of the other rules. During the Murray/Kygrios match the air was blue with swear words and absolutely nothing was said by the umpire. nothing. at one point Murray turned round after a loud sweary rant and yelled at the people behind him who weren’t actually doing anything! Are there any articles in the press about this the next day??! none. No one calls out this behaviour because it is not to do with Rafa and it is just absurd…..
        I mean which is worse really….!?

      • Does anyone know the average time between serves for Rafa in that match? I know he exceeds the limit frequently but only by 2-3 seconds. It also depends when they start the clock ticking. I understand it is from when the score is called. Mohamed Lahyani for example often waits for the dust to settle after a very long rally and tells Rafa when his average is over the limit before issuing a warning.

        They could also have a 5% margin for error as they do for drivers exceeding the speed limit on the roads?

        Rafa has reduced the length of his pre-serve ritual this season which might also account for the drop in his serve stats.

      • I thought it was negatively affecting him…he seemed to be concentrating very hard on trying to speed up and it was affecting his concentration. Is all really unfair. who is the umpire for Wed???

    • Woweeeeeee!!!!!

      Actual match stats?????? And so soon after the match. I thought it was all tracked on paper? You must have inside connections at the French Open, for sure, no?

      I’m glad we have gussie-bot or I’d have no way to find this on my own.


      • Much more revealing than the aggregate scores for the whole match (shown above) are the variations from set to set which show how the match unfolded. I don’t know how to reproduce them here but you can still call them up on the ATP slams tracker page.

  3. ok just looked u the Paris weather forecast for Wednesday.
    It does not look good. (cloudy with chances of rain)

    • I have looked at several forecasts and most just have it cloudy but around 20 in the afternoon….some have a light shower at 1….let’s see… they often get it wrong…

  4. Rafa is a million miles from where he was in Rome. He is more steady. I hope he comes fit and ready to go on Wednesday.

  5. So folks as feared Sock took it to him.

    But its good he got tested.

    Ofcourse I dont think most people expect Rafa to win on Wednesday, so hopefully he plays with less pressure and freely. Not expecting Rafa to win on Wednesday but hoping neverthless.

  6. Rafa played Isner on the Philippe Chatrier court!

    hawkeye63 has been despeartely spreading an IMAGINARY story created by somebody that somebody booed somewhere FAR AWAY FROM (!!!) the Philippe Chatrier court, where Rafa played. Spectators of Rafa’s match on the Philippe Chatrier court didn’t booed!
    It’s hilarious that the authors of the imaginary stories have the ability to freely imagine why somebody is booing somewhere FAR AWAY FROM something! LOL LOL LOL

    • hawkeye,

      Regarding your post @ 10:30 pm, that’s it! So busted!

      What ticked me off about that comment was casting aspersions on supposed American tourists! There is no way that American tourists would be booing if Rafa beat Isner! He is incredibly popular here in the states and the absurd accusation that it was all to blame on the American tourist, was quite offensive. Who even knows if there were any American tourists there that day?

      Where would anyone get something like that? In fact, a few years ago at the USO Isner played Monfils in an early round match and got mad because the fans in the stands were cheering for Monfils over him! Yep, that’s what happened!

      • nativenewyorker7 says:
        June 1, 2015 at 10:53 pm
        —There is no way that American tourists would be booing if Rafa beat Isner!—
        I have never written that American tourists booed Rafa, I have written that they booed their own player for his loss! They tend to boo their own players.
        For example, a quote:
        ¤¤ Isner holds a 7-5 win-loss Davis Cup record with two of those wins coming in doubles. Querrey has a 1-5 win-loss record in Davis Cup singles action and has never played doubles.
        Both players talked about playing Davis Cup with home court advantage at the draw.
        Querrey said, “We’re both very excited as we’ve both been playing some away ties the last three or four years, so to finally get one at home is thrilling. It will be nice to have a hard court and to have the fan support, the crowd behind us instead of getting the BOOS EVERY TIME you step on the court.” ¤¤

  7. Leta hoe Rafa gives himself something to celebrate on Wednesday by beating Novak!!! Hape, hape hooray!!!

  8. I don’t think Rafa can get it done on Wednesday with this serve, it’s way too weak to trouble Novak. At least he’s not folding under pressure now, which is good but his serve really worries me.

    • ritb, agree with that. on that slow slow court his serve will be easy meat for Nole to smash around. that’s the central area the match will be decided – Nole’s ability or not to push Rafa’s serve around. If Rafa serves like that he can’t win. He’s going to have to go for a lot more with it and take his chances with double faults…

      • He keeps dumping 1st serves into the net, what’s up with that? Is the treatment he received for his back problem inhibiting him? His serve really has been way, way below par this season.

      • You know more than I do as I have not watched him in the european season. But the serve was a problem last year with the back as I recall and he still managed to serve well against Nole in the final. So he can do it. He didn’t have to today because for the first 2 sets and a half Sock was doing nothing with it. I reckon the back still is a problem but like last year he will try and go for it against Nole. Against Almagro he was pulling out really great t serves on break points…not today or last round….I hope Uncle T. has him practicing hitting coins…..

      • I’m wondering if the changes he made that gave him the great serve at the USO 2013 led to his back problems that followed at the next slam in Australia and now he is protecting the back with his current sub-par service motion.

        Luckily, he is leading the pack in percentage of receiving games won.

  9. I think Rafa has to come out swinging, after all, what has he got to lose? Virtually all the pundits have him losinh to Novak so he should not feel any pressure. It’s Novak who has the pressure to fulfill the pundits’ expectations.

    So, Vamos Rafa, hit for the fences!

    • Wow the RG crowd is pathetic that they can’t even fill the much smaller lenglen court. And they call themselves fans. Don’t know why any-bot-y would defend an RG crowd known to boo a nine-time champion. Only some-bot-y that would come to the defence of CryBaby (who riled the AO crowd to boo Rafa) or a fedfan would do such a thing, for sure, no?


      • Actually there have been empty seats for nearly all the matches this year, including the blockbusters. Haven’t seen any boasting from RG about attendance figures so they must be down although if you try to buy tickets they are impossible to come by apart from the evening sessions when you can get in after 5pm on the day.

        I’m in a prime tourist destination and all the locals depending on tourism are complaining how bad things are. The french are simply not putting their hands in their pockets this year.

      • Good point. I’d forgotten that – so lots of ungrateful clients or they turn up and simply stay in the VIP bars! My son-in-law hosts groups for the SFs each year but says he can’t pass me off as an important business client ? ?

          • The marshalling of spectators is nulle at RG. Nowhere else are spectators allowed to hold up play after practically every changeover sometimes for several minutes. Yesterday the umpire at the Murray match finally called out for the gates to be closed.

  10. I think Rafa Novak will atleast go 4..I dont see it straight sets.

    I just hope Rafas birthday gives him a good present.

    On the other side, hope Stan and Ferrer spring a surprise 🙂

    Wish : Rafa, ferrer, Tsonga, Stan in semis

    What may happen : Novak, Andy, Federer, Kei 🙂

  11. Rafa’s comments –
    ”Probably the toughest quarterfinal in my career here in Roland Garros, without a doubt. But (it) is not the final, you know. It’s a quarterfinal,” Nadal said. ”And, no, the winner of that match will not be the Roland Garros champion. … That makes a big difference. Even if it’s a special match, you know, (it’s) a quarterfinal.”

  12. Rafa is trying to take the pressure off with that comment. Because it could just as well have come from Novak. That’s why I am not counting on Novak folding due to pressure. This is a quarterfinal, not a final or even a semifinal.

    Both players will have to raise their game for this one. Normally a player will just start peaking at this point. But for this one, Rafa and Novak are going to have to bring their best earlier than normal.

    The championship may not be on the line, but everyone knows that taking out Rafa is the key if you want to win. It’s not like Novak will have a cakewalk after this match if he wins. Should Murray get through to the semis, then that will be another physical battle. Then it could be Fed waiting in the final. It will be tough for both guys, because this match could take a lot out of both of them. The one who advances will have to still play two more matches.

    I don’t know what will happen. Normally I would be optimistic about Rafa playing Novak. I would have confidence that ultimately he will prevail. But this year is something else altogether. Rafa has been anything but his normal self. Will he have what it takes in the crucial moments? Without having won a title since February? Will Novak winning so much this year give him what he needs to get it done now?

    I know that almost all the pundits have predicted that this time Novak will beat Rafa. We will have to wait and see.

  13. Atul, I don’t think Rafa chose to lose 9 matches so far this season. He was suffering from lack of match play, lack of confidence, lack of form and lack of rhythm. He was out of condition, suffering from cramps and dehydration. He said after one of his losses that it was like starting from zero getting back his mindset, his movement his serve and his shots. The fact that he kept losing early deprived him of match play which meant he wasn’t getting any rhythm or his game back.

    So far at RG he seems to be close to the Rafa we know and I hope that continues. Rafa playing at 100% is not easily shafted.

  14. What worries me is that Novak’s best is now better than Rafa’s best. I mean at this point in time (not if they were both completely at 100 %)

  15. “I think I played great first two sets – very, very happy,” said Nadal. “My serve today was the worst thing. I didn’t start enough points with advantage, and that’s why he had the chance to break me. But I’m happy. I am enjoying again on court because I’m able to play more days with calm. I don’t have this problem of nerves I suffered from at the start of the year, and that gives you the possibility to compete well.

    “Against Novak, it is the toughest quarterfinal in my career here in Roland Garros, without a doubt. But the winner of that match will not be the Roland Garros champion. Will be semifinalist. That’s makes a big difference. Even if it’s a special match, you know, is a quarter-final.

    “He’s by far the best player in the world. He’s brimming with confidence; he has exceptional form. He’s won almost all the matches since the start of the year. He has only two defeats. I love Roland Garros. I love the tournament. I love the courts. I will pull out all the stops to win the match. I feel competitive. I will fight to the bitter end. I don’t know if it will be enough. I don’t read a crystal ball. So if I play well and if my opponent plays better than me, I will shake hands and congratulate and then I will move on.”

    Rafas serve I think is the biggest weak point especially when you take at Novaks outstanding ROS

    • I posted the same on another thread ! haha… I agree that rafa’s first serve will decide the match.

      Here is something Novak said “Playing him here and playing him in any other tournament is completely different. But the conditions are very suited to his style of game. He loves playing on Court Philippe Chatrier.”

      Not sure if he is saying this out of respect or does he actually ‘fear’ rafa on PC 😛 He said said multiple times how PC benefits rafa so there must be something!

      PC has 32 feet of space length wise behind the baseline and that is HUGE. As federer said, there is always a tendency on PC to stay back because it is so big. You almost have to remind yourself to stay closer to the baseline. Rafa thinks the bigger court makes it difficult for his opponents to hit winners from a mental point of view. Rafa’s defensive play surely gets elevated on PC.

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