French Open R2 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Haase, Johnson vs. Coric

Rafael Nadal, coming off a routine straight-set defeat of Benoit Paire, will continue his Roland Garros campaign against Robin Haase on Wednesday. Steve Johnson and Borna Coric are also aiming for a place in the last 32.

Robin Haase vs. (4) Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s quest for a 10th French Open title will continue when he takes the court during second-round action on Wednesday. Poor play–and a bad draw against Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals–derailed his 2015 bid and he had to withdraw because of a wrist injury following two victories last spring. All systems are go, however, this time around for Nadal. The world No. 4 is 18-1 on clay this season with three titles and a straight-set rout of Benoit Paire on Monday.

Up next for Nadal on Wednesday is Haase, who is 0-2 lifetime in the head-to-head series. This is not the first time these two veterans have faced each other in round two of a Grand Slam, as they also squared off during this stage of the 2010 Wimbledon event–with Nadal surviving 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 on his eventual way to the title. The Spaniard also got the job done 6-3, 6-2 early last season on the hard courts of Doha. Haase evened his 2017 record at 14-14 and gave himself another shot at Nadal when he thrashed Australian wild card Alex De Minaur 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in his opener. An immeasurably steep step up in competition should bring about a swift end to the 46th-ranked Dutchman’s stay in Paris.

Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 8-10 games

Borna Coric vs. (25) Steve Johnson

Johnson and Coric will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers on Wednesday. It is a tough time right now for Johnson, who almost skipped this French Open due to the recent death of his father. The 26th-ranked American endured a difficult time on the court, as well, during an opening-round test against Yuichi Sugita that lasted two days. Johnson failed to serve out a straight-set victory on Sunday, had the match postponed midway through the fourth, and eventually needed five sets to prevail 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-7(3), 6-3 on Monday.

Coric has wobbled through a wildly up-and-down clay-court swing. He exited four tournaments in the first round but his other two warmup events went outstandingly well, resulting in the Marrakech title and a quarterfinal run in Madrid as a lucky loser. The 20-year-old Croat has bounced back nicely from 2016 knee surgery and he is up to No. 40 in the world–just seven spots off his career-high ranking. Coric took care of French wild card Mathias Bourgue earlier this week and he should maintain momentum at the expense of an opponent who admitted after his first-round victory that he is understandably unable to focus entirely on tennis right now.

Pick: Coric in 4

30 Comments on French Open R2 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Haase, Johnson vs. Coric

  1. Fognini also had other things on his mind,yet he got through in five.
    Kyrgios not as distracted either by the grass season , or his injury.
    Delpo I would imagine has made a full recovery and will make the quarters at least…

    • I thought that way with Del Po and I have him in the semis but I had Kyrgios losing first round because he has hasn’t some personal struggles too with the death of his grandfather. Actually though I totally forgot about this but I think Del Po lost his grandfather recently as well.

  2. “Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 8-10 games.”
    @ Ricky – You can copy paste this prediction for all of rafa’s matches until the quarters at least….

    • The article in India Today tells “His [Toni Nadal] unusual training methods included persuading Rafael to play left-handed, even though he was naturally right-handed. Toni believed playing left-handed would give Rafael an advantage, and he proved to be correct.”

      This is not true! Rafa said in his interview with Japanese TV in Oct. 2010:
      “I only use the left hand for tennis and other sports. For everyday things, I’m right-handed. When I started playing, I used both hands to hit both backhand and forehand. When I was 3 years old, I didn’t have enough power so Uncle Toni taught me to do that. After that, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I had to use only one side, and it became that it was NATURAL to use my left hand.”

      (Rafa is naturally left-footed, he kicks a ball with his left foot.)

      • L’Equipe (French sports magazine) did an hour documentary on Rafa a few years ago. In it, Toni said that when Rafa was a kid when he wanted to hit a winner he would use his left side so Toni thought he might be a natural left handed player. Toni did encourage him to use his left. The documentary says that Rafa’s master eye is his right eye and using his left hand to hit the forehand means he can still track the ball while rotating his body and bringing his arm back to hit it.

        When I was a kid and playing catch with my younger sister, who “threw like a girl” and could not get the hang of throwing with a good motion I suggested she try her left arm, which worked a bit better so she stayed with it. She still throws with her left and does everything else with her right. So who knows?

    • MA,

      Thanks for those links. I was surprised to read Uncle Toni saying that winning the second RG was harder than winning the 10th will be. Moya seemed to indicate that there is pressure. I am pleased to hear him say that he specifically worked with Rafa on his second serve. I have wanted to see Rafa improve his section serve for a while now. It’s been a weakness and now that Rafa is older and needs to make adjustments, I think it takes pressure off him if he can depend on his second serve.

      I am sure that Moya will help Rafa deal with the pressure of going for #10.

      • Nny…I think,U.Toni said that because when Rafa was about to win his 2nd FO..he still what?..20?..still very much a young man..inexperienced and what’s more he has to face the No 1 at that time…Roger Federer…that is the 1st time he has to defend his title in a major right?So..the pressure was tremendous…in every level…

        But now..even though the pressure is still there but he’s already won at RG 9th, he’s already familiar with the pressure,expectations from fans or himself..and most importantly…he’s not a young man anymore Nny…Rafa of today knows everything that needs to be done in order to win his 10th…so,yeah IMO..Uncle Toni is definitely right when he said winning his 10th not as hard as his 2nd…and hope it will become reality 2 sundays from now Nny!…Woohoo!!Vamos Rafa!!

  3. I wish Rafa not giving the ball back to his opponent repeatedly…it’s very tiring to see him play like this…he should change direction more often…there’s still 5 match for him to go through…and possibly 4 or 5 sets in semis and final…

  4. I don’t know if anyone brought it up but how incredible was that win for Johnson? I mean I have never seen Coric get so mad before smashing his racket to smithereens over and over after a match he had plenty of chances in. Also Johnson hit a TWO HANDED BACKHAND RETURN WINNER down 4-6 in fourth set breaker. And after the win he broke down in tears for several minutes straight because of the recent death of his father. I will for sure root for Stevie in each match he plays for rest of the tournament. Want him to keep going. He’s such a hard worker, one of the hardest on tour in fact. Great guy and no one could be more deserving of that epic Houston title he got and even more so this win today. I am so freaking happy he won!! Stay strong Stevie!! ???

    • I saw the end of Stevie’s win over Coruc. You couldn’t help but felt for him as he broke down after winning. They interviewed him and he just coukdn’t stop crying. He talked about how he missed his father and how he knew that he was watching down on him. It made me break down in tears. ?

      I was fortunate enough to see my parents live long and full lives into old age. I was fortunate to have them for a long time. My heart goes out to Stevie Johnson during this difficult time. His father would have been very proud.

      Coric was on the other end of the behavior spectrum with that epic racket smash meltdown.

      Congratulations to Stevie! Well done!

      • Yeah Nny…You’re very very fortunate to have witnessed and cocooned safely in the loving and stable family life…Not everyone have that privilege in this life…i’m happy you’re given such a precious gift in your life Nny…

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