French Open R4 previews and predictions: Djokovic vs. Bautista Agut, Berdych vs. Ferrer

Novak Djokovic has enjoyed smooth sailing through three matches at Roland Garros and he hopes more of the same will continue against Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday. Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer are also taking the court for fourth-round action.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (14) Roberto Bautista Agut

Djokovic’s quest for a first French Open title is off to an ideal start–especially relative to the unfortunate plights of other contenders. Roger Federer, for example withdrew before the tournament even started. So did Gael Monfils. Rafael Nadal pulled out after two matches. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired from his third-round contest on Saturday. Stan Wawrinka has played a five-setter. So has Kei Nishikori. Andy Murray has played two. Djokovic, however, is safely through to the last 16 following straight-set victories over Yen-Hsun Lu, Steve Darcis, and Aljaz Bedene. The world No. 1’s clay-court preparation was far from ideal, but he at least managed to lift the Madrid winner’s trophy to go along with a runner-up performance in Rome.
Up next for Djokovic on Monday is a fifth career showdown against Bautista Agut, who is 0-4 in the head-to-head series and 0-9 in total sets. They also faced each other in round four of the 2015 U.S. Open, where the Serb battled to a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win. Their only previous clay-court encounter came earlier this month in Madrid, with Djokovic dominating 6-2, 6-1. Bautista Agut is the kind of rock-solid player who generally takes care of opponents whom he should beat while often struggling at the hands of higher-ranked foes. The Spaniard, who has advanced this fortnight by taking out Dmitry Tursunov, Paul-Henri Mathieu, and Borna Coric, has lost more than 20 consecutive matches against top 10 players other than Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Another lopsided setback could be in store for him in this one.

Pick: Djokovic in 3 losing 11-14 games

(11) David Ferrer vs. (7) Tomas Berdych

These two struggling veterans may have been counted out prior to their arrivals in Paris, but one will be in the quarterfinals after they square off for the 15th time in their careers on Monday. Ferrer is leading the head-to-head series 8-6, but Berdych has won three of their five clay-court contests. They just recently collided at the Madrid Masters, where Berdych got the job done 7-6(8), 7-5. But the Madrid conditions are conducive to Berdych’s game, as the balls fly through the air and generally bounce faster off the court than they do in most clay-court situations.

Ferrer and Berdych during their practice set
The eighth-ranked Czech found the conditions much less satisfying in Rome, where he got double-bageled by David Goffin in the third round. That, along with mostly lackluster results throughout the 2016 campaign, prompted Berdych to part ways with coach Dani Vallverdu. But the ship is being righted in Paris with defeats of Vasek Pospisil, Malek Jaziri, and Pablo Cuevas. Similarly, Ferrer has won three matches at a tournament for just the second time this season and for the first time since the Australian Open. The 34-year-old Spaniard, who has slipped to No. 11 in the world, punched his ticket to the last 16 by beating Evgeny Donskoy, Juan Monaco, and Feliciano Lopez, surrendering just one set to Monaco in the process. Even though Ferrer is no longer at his peak, you generally know what he is going to bring to the table every time he takes the court. Berdych, on the other hand, is the proverbial wild card who really has the outcome of this match in his hands. Sometimes that can be a good thing; right now, the opposite may be true. Look for Ferrer’s relentless return of serve and consistent groundstrokes to coax an inconsistent Berdych into too many errors during baseline rallies.

Pick: Ferrer in 4

40 Comments on French Open R4 previews and predictions: Djokovic vs. Bautista Agut, Berdych vs. Ferrer

  1. Ferrer in five and Djoker losing 11-14 games with straight sets. The way he’s looked early on here he could lose even less games. Then again RBA is a fighter and a baller on the slow stuff and hasn’t dropped a set either so he can make this a match.

  2. Voted Nole in 3 losing 8-10

    For my bracket, I went with Berdych in this one. But watching Ferrer, I like Daveed. Not sure how many sets 5 comes to mind, but might be wishful thinking so… went with Ricky’s 4.

  3. I voted for Novak winning in straight sets, losing 8-10 games.

    I am having a tougher time picking between Ferrer and Berdy. I would not have expected Ferrer to get this far, so he has to be playing some decent tennis. Berdy had that dreadful bagel loss against Goffin, but has managed to come this far.

    It could go either way, but I will go with Ferrer in 4 or 5 sets.

  4. Djokovic in 4, losing more than 14 games.
    His early rounds have been too easy with the result he has not been fully tested and RBA could catch fire and make life difficult for him.

    Hard to choose between Berdych and Ferrer but this could be a dog fight
    Berdych in 5

  5. Tuesday’s weather is looking to be similar to today.

    This’ll mean the top half of the draw will likely play on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Meanwhile, the bottom half plays a comfortable Wedesday, Friday, Sunday schedule.

    Playing four best of 5 matches in five days is ridiculous. This is similar to how last year’s schedule turned out. It’s an absolute joke that the scheduling could play a factor in dictating the GS winner.

    Build a roof, have lights, or at least move finals back a couple days.

    • Yup….it can be absurd. Tomorrow it will probably be a delayed start for Djokovic . Although it is expected to be cloudy in the afternoon but the chances of raining are surely there. It could get pretty ugly for Djokovic.

      The worst I have seen is Wimbledon 2007 when Rafa had to play for 4-5 days non-stop! His match against Soderling alone took 3 days to finish and then he kept playing. Fed on the other hand had the opposite scheduling and his 3rd rnd or 4th rnd opponent withdrew and he had an extended break.

      No wonder Rafa was gassed out in the 5th set.

      • vr,

        I well remember the 2007 Wimbledon when rain delays forced Rafa to play several days in a row. I think that was what flared up his knees, because he didn’t do well at the USO.

    • I’ve heard they may end up having a Monday final.

      No reason not to.

      ‏@carole_bouchard Carole Bouchard
      Forget has already opened a tiny door for a monday final by giving the USO example. Still hopes to finish on sunday

      • I was thinking about them having a Monday final. That makes sense given the weather and if the USO could do it for a few years, then I don’t see why they can’t do it at RG.

  6. This is a dicey situation for Nole – stating the obvious. He needs to knuckle down and get this done.

    • Oh yes, I am! Well fan is a strong word to describe me, I’d say. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of her athletic skills for sure – Love watching Simona.

  7. Not specially, no. First time I heard of her was because of her breast reduction operation, it seemed to lift a lot of smoke at the time. But she’s lovely in that pic, I have to say.

    • She’s lovely period.

      She’s the only player that has successfully been able to pull off those god-awful adidas zebra striped.

      Those suspenders. Just. Yowza!


  8. He’s playing his part in this set but he lacks guile. He makes it too easy for Nole to read his next move. But Nole is making careless errors and allowing RBA to hang around.

    I have a theory what is ailing Nole but no way will I voice it here!

    • Ait it please 🙂

      Are you thinking he will win RG?

      Berdych is playing well against Ferrer..infact very well..but ofcourse against Novak he will fold.

  9. I get so irritated by the faux humour of Djokovic and the way he curries favour with the crowd.

    #Sour grapes from Ed.

  10. Djoko wins again but far from a convincing performance. Kudos to Bautista for making it competitive.

  11. Hahaha for ed…

    Ben Rothenberg ‏@BenRothenberg 2h2 hours ago Paris, France
    After the match, the now de rigeur Djokovic charm offensive includes ball kid choreography and a funny hat this time. Oh, the whimsy. #RG16

    Just a wee tad forced and OTT, no?

    • It’s part of his charm IMO rc.

      He’s not a polished PR Team machine like so many others.

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