French Open R4 previews and predictions: Murray vs. Isner, Nishikori vs. Gasquet

Andy Murray will be facing a second consecutive huge server when he goes up against John Isner during fourth-round action at Roland Garros on Sunday. Kei Nishikori and Richard Gasquet are also aiming for a place in the quarterfinals.

(15) John Isner vs. (2) Andy Murray

Murray and Isner will be going head-to-head for the sixth time in their careers when they battle for a spot in the French Open quarterfinals on Sunday. All five of their previous encounters have gone Murray’s way, but only two have ended in straight sets and all five–not too surprisingly–have featured at least one tiebreaker. Their last four meetings, in particular, have been especially competitive. Isner took a set in three of the four and the other resulted in a tough 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4) Davis Cup scoreline in 2015 when Murray benefited from home-court advantage in Great Britain. They most recently faced each other last fall in Shanghai, where Isner snagged the opening set before succumbing 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4.

Combined, these two men have survived three five-setters on their journeys to the French Open fourth round. Surprisingly, it is Murray who has endured two contests that went the distance. The second-ranked Scot scraped past qualifier Radek Stepanek 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 in his opener before overcoming little-known French wild card Mathias Bourgue 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. But in an ideal warmup for facing Isner, Murray righted the ship to defeat Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3) on Friday. In between a straight-set rout of Kyle Edmund, Isner twice persevered through scary situations. The 6’10” American recovered from a set and a break down to beat John Millman 6-7(4), 7-6(12), 7-6(7), 7-5 in round one and most recently outlasted Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6(7), 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 after trailing 2-0 in the fifth. Although success had not been forecasted by the mediocrity of Isner’s season prior to this event, he is no stranger to making noise at Roland Garros. Isner also reached the last 16 in 2014 and he pushed Nadal to five sets in the 2011 first round. The 15th seed is likely to make this one a test from start to finish, but Murray has always feasted on big servers and Isner is no exception to that rule.

Pick: Murray in 4

(5) Kei Nishikori vs. (9) Richard Gasquet

Isner will hope to begin turning the tide against Murray just as Nishikori has managed to do at Gasquet’s expense. Prior to this month, Gasquet was enjoying an improbable 6-0 head-to-head series weep over the Japanese star. The Frenchman had prevailed five times on hard courts and once on grass, but clay–and not to mention Nishikori’s rise to the upper echelons of the sport–has yielded a change in fortunes. Nishikori beat Gasquet 6-4, 7-5 at the recent Madrid Masters before getting the job done 6-1, 6-4 in Rome.
On the bright side for Gasquet, he has been sparkling in front of the French crowd so far this fortnight. Of the eight remaining players in the bottom half of the draw, only Gasquet and Milos Raonic have refused to surrender even a single set. The world No. 12 punched his ticket to the last 16 by rolling over Thomaz Bellucci, Bjorn Fratangelo, and Nick Kyrgios. Nishikori also had things in cruise control during defeats of Simone Bolelli and Andrey Kuznetsov, and for a while he seemed to be making similar work of Fernando Verdasco on Friday. Although the Spaniard fought back valiantly, Nishikori survived for a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 victory. The No. 5 seed is now 32-9 for the season, which is highlighted by a fourth straight title in Memphis, a runner-up finish in Barcelona, and semifinal showings in Madrid and Rome. An in-form Gasquet should be able to make this more competitive than their two most recent showdowns, but Nishikori is arguably looking like the second best player in this tournament right now.

Pick: Nishikori in 4

83 Comments on French Open R4 previews and predictions: Murray vs. Isner, Nishikori vs. Gasquet

    • Very possible Gasquet can get the W. I picked Nishikori in 5 but Richard has a good shot with the crowd behind him.

  1. Man Isner is playing awful. Just missing so much. And when the rain came it was 4-2 Kei now it’s 6-4 5-2 gasquet. Kei has made over 20 unforced errors while Gasquet has made just six. Not over til it’s over though because Gasquet did lose from two sets up in R4 in 2013 against Wawrinka so he could get tight again. Of course it’s not super likely but still possible. I would like to see Gasquet finally make an RG quarterfinal but Kei would probably be more of a test for Andy next round (assuming Andy finishes off Isner).

  2. Allez Gasquet!! Psyched for the Frenchman. I’m hoping he beats Murray in the QF. I think it’s possible with the crowd totally behind Richard.

      • I don’t think there is cause for worry. I think Murray will have an easier time of it against Gasquet than Nishi.

        The one thing is that the crowd will be supporting Gasquet. But I think Murray can handle it.

        • ** But I think Murray can handle it.””

          Unless he’s playing in England I doubt he has ever been the crowd favourite anywhere.

  3. It’s many years since I’ve seen Gasquet play as well as he is at the moment. Early in his career he was regarded as the big white hope amongst the French players but he lost his way and failed to live up to his early promise. Funnily enough he was also prone to buckling under the home crowd expectations so this RG is something of a breakthrough for him.

        • i don’t see gasquet beating murray in a month of sundays. murray has infliced huge psychological pain on gasquet in the past with 2 gs wins when he came from 2 sets behind…including the wimby one when he was down 2 sets and 2 breaks.
          murray is a fighter and gasquet is not. even if he has an off day he’ll scrap for the win and get it.

            • I agree also about Murray beating Gasquet. I think that Gasquet played very well against Nishi, but Murray has too many weapons and variety in his game.

              Gasquet will have the crowd behind him. But Murray has been battle tested in the early rounds and will be ready for him.

              I actually think this was a big break for Murray.

  4. Ha ha,”great white hope” currently is quite controversial in USA in the context of presidential elections though probably not in UK where it is likely without the dreaded “R” connotation.

  5. The title holder is wide open. It would be nice for one of two of the players left in the draw to win it, I won’t name them in order not to jinx them but the top 3 ranked players left are not among my wishful champion.

  6. The only player I don’t want to see win is CB.

    Anyone but CB or Muzz would be an incredible joyous celebration.

    Nole would only be RG crowd favourite in the final if he plays Muzz or a Spaniard in the final so good chances for him to have support.

    WIth Rafa out, I will be very happy to see Nole get what he has suffered for for so long should he go on and win. But good chances that my heart won’t let me pull for him in the final as I will likely pull for the underdog regardless.

  7. I do not see Thiem winning this. Not with Novak and Murray in it. Also Stan.

    He got lucky with the draw opening up. But I don’t think he’s ready.

    • I’d love to see Thiem win. It would be great for tennis.

      But moot coz it ain’t happening.



  8. I will root for anyone but Djokovic. He has benefited by the fading out of his chief rivals. Rafa wore his body out fighting against the mighty Fed against whom both Djoko and Muzz folded like cheap tents. Now that Fed is past his prime and Rafa’s body is too bettered, Nolefam has started the fake story that Djokovic is better than Fed and Rafa at their best.

    • well said hawks. if there is such a thing as deserving a win in sports then he deserves it (now that rafa isn’t there to win) class act and a great player.

      • Yes, it shouldn’t be handed to him. He lost last year because Stan played extremely well and Nole laid back not playing aggressively subconsciously conservatively looking for Stan to make mistakes and hand it to him.

        I’m guessing he has learned from that mistake and it has only made him stronger.

        Again, I’m guessing that whoever he plays in the final, I will be cheering for the underdog (unless it is Wawrinka) but I’ll still be happy for him if he wins.

        I judge Rafa’s legacy on it’s own and I don’t want to prop it up because of failures of other players.

      • Amy,

        I hope that I did not offend you when I said anyone but Novak. I don’t want him to eclipse Rafa. But then I remember that he has won RG 9 times. No one will ever do that again.

        I really don’t have anyone to cheer for now. I just hope for some good tennis. But if Novak finally does win it this year, then I will be respectful of him. I am sure that Rafa would feel the same.

        Rafa is such a good and decent person, as well as a great champion. But I remember him congratulating Fed when he won RG in 2009.

        I understand your frustration at the comments made about us. It’s too bad that there are those who come here for the wrong reasons.

        I agree with Hawks about trying to ignore them. But sometimes I think one has to say something. 🙂

        • nny, no of course you didn’t offend me!! it’s fine to think that and i understand that although i like nole he rubs some people up the wrong way.
          you are without malice and i respect your opinion. it’s all good as far as i am concerned. you are also my friend remember!!

    • No question that this guy fully deserves an RG title! However, I don’t want him to win for obvious reasons. If he does win, I will only congratulate him because he deserves it.

  9. hawkeye, I can see you are sad. vr is shattered too. The only one exulting is amy. When I read Rafa’s press conference, I found tears rolling down my cheeks. Apparently the whole room was charged with sadness. Many reporters must have shed tears, not just Rafa. I felt even worse about the send off for him by the staff. It made me feel as if they sensed this is the end. I hope not. But after watching his struggles for more than a year, I am not sure his body can ever again withstand the rigors of seven best of 5 matches on RG clay. His best bet is probably USO. I hope he skips Wimbledon and Olympics and focuses on getting match fit for USO. I cling on to the hope that Rafa can still come back and this is not the end of a glorious career.

    • oh just belt up you nasty troll. only you could make malicious capital out of this as you did the other day saying that some of us were describing his wrist injury as anxiety. that is a bare faced lie and as low as it gets but nothing that i wouldn’t expect from a troll like you. using one of the worst moments in rafa’s career to make malicious capital is pathetic (and shows that you don’t really give a damn about him) but it’s utterly consistent with everything you are and stand for. you are a troll pure and simple.

      • to be precise you said that myself hawks and nny were describing his injury as anxiety which is an abject and loathsome lie. i can tell you for sure that nny and i despise you. as does chloro.

          • ed, chloro and i have been emailing each other since last september and are good friends. i think he has just found it very difficult to watch rafa suffer on court over and over, as have i. also he’s busy with many things.
            site was a lot nicer with him here though…

            • That’s a relief. Thanks for the info.
              Remember me to him next time you are chatting. We both signed up to the Rafa fan club at the same moment in 2005 and have exchanged views since the early days of TennisTalk.

            • i will do ed. i had an email from him yesterday so when i reply in the next day or so i will give him your best wishes!!!
              one of tg’s nicest posters imo…

      • Amy, you are right but my friendly and respectful advise is don’t feed into it as annoying as it is.

        On another topic, regardless of his current status, Rafa really is the best.

        • yeah sorry hawks. but those comments were vile. i will just ignore her from now on as that is what i normally do. why talk to someone you would never speak to in real life?
          rafa does seem to be able to holdserve in 2016…

  10. Hawks may often sound cynical but deep down he has is a soft centre. I admired hugely the way Nole handled what was possibly the toughest defeat of his career and found the moment he nearly lost it when the crowd gave him the prolonged standing ovation particularly moving.

    Proof too the RG crowd can be sporting..

    • Yes, I guess I do ed (as I think most of us do). Guilty as charged. 🙂

      Similarly, I think while Nole shows too much questionable behaviour on court at times, his real persona was exposed during the ovation. It was a great moment. I had cheered for Wawrinka the underdog but at the same time was sorry Nole failed at the last most cruel moment when he thought it was his.

      • I suspect if he does make it this year it will seem a somewhat hollow victory. Bet he would prefer to have done it the hard way battling past his long term adversaries – no disrespect to Muzza intended.

        • Maybe to others ed, but I don’t think it will feel that way for him (and not for me either TBH).

          His endurance allowed him to wait it out similar to Fed’s win in ’09 and I don’t think Fed or anyone but many Rafans believe his win was hollow.

          • You are right. My comment was not worded well. I still think it would be more satisfying for him personally if he won it by beating the top guys. But you’re right pointing out it’s the hardware and his name on the trophy that he will be remembered for.

            • DEFINITELY would be more satisfying but only IF he would have beaten Rafa which was far from certainty (no matter what some would have you believe).

  11. To imitate hawkeye’s logic, Djokovic shouldn’t win because he doesn’t deserve it. He has already too many slams won in an incredibly weak era with “old” and battered players.

  12. And, yeah, as an avid tennis fan and Rafan, I’m very sad about how Rafa went out of RG after, out of nowhere really, showing close to his old form on a much more consistent basis leading up to the French. It was a joy to watch.

    I let my own guard down and had real renewed and sudden hope for la decima this year. It’s a similar sadness to when Sampras went downhill and routinely went out in early rounds for two years before his last hurrah in 2002 USO.

    I hope Rafa has at least one more big win in him. Hopefully more.

  13. wow amy has showed her true nasty self in attacking me viciously! Don’t worry dear, everybody knows you are a Djokovic fan so I did not give away any secrets. No need to get hysterical!

      • But for the love of entertainment at least, can’t you be a bit more witty or creative with them?

        Your attempts are boorish and quite tiresome.

        Just trying to help the rest of us that have to read them.

        You weren’t missed at all ICYMI and should just crawl back under the closest rock in Mauritis.

      • Hawks. I’m certain Mary W is not who you think she is. It’s not RITB’s writing voice, plus there was a grammatical error the other day which she would be almost incapable of making. As you well know, It’s difficult to emulate someone else’s style unless you are already a fairly skilled writer.

        Apart from anything else I can’t imagine RITB being faffed to waste her time trolling.

        • It’s funny ed you know? I’d rather be trolled than see someone here who I respect trolled.

          I can much more easily ignore being trolled myself than when it happen to someone else I respect.

          You do an incredible job at dealing with trolling (better than anyone here IMO.

          If everyone reacted (or didn’t react) like you, there would be a lot less trolling to begin with. You don’t feed it. Response or no response, you disarm it. Very disciplined.


          • Hawkeye,

            I aporeciate your sentiments. But I will say that it’s easier said than done when it comes to ignoring trolling comments. I think we do a good job for the most part. But sometimes it’s just too much. We are human, after all!

            I think if trolling connects personally attacking other posters were deleted immediately, then the message would be clear – stick to talking tennis!

        • well grammatical error can easily be made to believe exactly what you believe ed, lol…. not too bothered about this but hawkeye is right… I don’t want to comment on why I agree with Hawkeye…not worth the effort and all three of us would agree on that.

          as NNY said below, let’s stick to tennis as much as we can 🙂

    • Amy doesn’t have a nasty bone in her body! The fact that she likes both Rafa and Novak is no reason to go after her!

      I am sick of reading hatespeak in lieu of any real discussion about tennis!

      I know that Amy has defended be against nasty personal attacks just like the ones that are being said here. She tells it like it is and if someone is behaving like a troll, then she will call them out for it!

  14. Novak’s behavior after his loss was expected. He has always been gracious in defeat. He is intolerable when he wins, tearing his shirt, bellowing loudly to the skies, dancing on cars, publishing disgusting skits with Troicki making fun of Rafa….

  15. hawkeye, I am not dependent on your likes and dislikes. I know Ricky’s moderation is guided by amy and her gang though he does attempt to be fair. But I came back for a while because of the shock of Rafa’s withdrawal. Certain reactions were very telling. Like amy asking vr an “innocent” question. Under guise of seeking his opinion on Wawa’s recent improvement against Rafa to counter what vr was saying about Rafa imposing his game on Wawa!
    Goodbye till the next shock, hopefully a Rafa win!

    • I just this question posted..had missed it. Lol, you can give second meaning to just about anything and that’s what you are doing here. She asks for my opinion on different things and that is common.

      Don’t instigate, esp at this time when Rafa fans are hurt.

      • vr,

        It’s not even worth responding to something like that. You don’t have to explain yourself. It’s just another attempt to instigate and inflame.

        I do agree that this is especially unfortunate after rafa’s withdrawal due to injury.

        Rafa fans are hurting right now and this is a time for us to be united in our support for Rafa and hoping for his speedy recovery.

    • The idea that Ricky moderates this site on the whims of Amy or anyone also, is pretty insulting to him.

      Bizarre conspiracy theories in lieu of any real tennis discussion!

  16. Ricky, if you’re listening, what’s up with your man Ben R on twitter?

    Why is it only media that ever suggests mens tennis goes to BO3 in slams? Never players and never fans.

    What’s up with that? BO5 over seven rounds is what makes slams different from ATP and allows for history to be made and upsets less likely.

    2011 Fedal FO final MIGHT never have happened as Isner was up 2-1 (and the boorish FO crowd may not have booed the scoreboard LOL).

    Enough already. No one but the media wants it.

    Don’t you? Or do you.

        • It’s really bad.

          But seems to be a chronically common theme with media only not shared by players, fans or tournaments.

          I don’t know why other than clickbait.

          Ricky, go have a beer with him and straighten him out. Don’t you? Or do you.

    • Hawkeye,

      Where did you get this? Why would anyone want to change it to best of three matches? That is insane!

      • if it were bo3 both stan and murray would be gone already. that would be a fun half of the draw with nishi and kygrios gone as well…
        djoko would be the only big name left in the tourney and forget would officially be having a nervous breakdown..
        actually the atp would start to look a lot like the wta…

  17. Ha, Ha.You can always tell when there is no tennis.

    All around the mulberry bush
    The monkey chased the weasel;
    The monkey thought ’twas all in good fun,
    Pop! goes the weasel.

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