French Open R4 previews and predictions: Wawrinka vs. Monfils, Murray vs. Khachanov

Three unseeded players remain in the bottom half of the draw and that includes Karen Khachanov, who will face world No. 1 Andy Murray on Monday. Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils are also in fourth-round action.

(3) Stan Wawrinka vs. (15) Gael Monfils

Wawrinka and Monfils will be facing each other for just the fifth time in their careers and for the first time since the 2011 Australian Open when they finally meet again in the French Open fourth round on Monday. The head-to-head series is tied up at two wins apiece, with all four of their previous encounters having come on hard courts. Both veterans, of course, are more than capable on clay. Wawrinka won this tournament in 2015 and owns seven clay-court titles–also in Monte-Carlo three years ago. Currently on a seven-match winning streak thanks in part a triumph last week in Geneva, the third-ranked Swiss has advanced at Roland Garros with straight-set victories over Jozef Kovalik, Alexandr Dolgopolov, and Fabio Fognini.

Monfils is an outstanding 30-10 lifetime on the red clay of Paris, but this is not the year anyone would expect for him to accomplish his biggest career goal of winning the French Open. The injury-plagued Frenchman played a mere two clay-court matches prior to this fortnight and lost both of them. A routine trek through the first three rounds, though, was just what the doctor ordered. Monfils destroyed Dustin Brown and Thiago Monteiro in straight sets before getting a third-set retirement from compatriot Richard Gasquet. The jury is still very much out on Monfils’ form, whereas Wawrinka has clearly heated up and may have too much offensive firepower for the crowd favorite.

Pick: Wawrinka in 4

(1) Andy Murray vs. Karen Khachanov

Clay has never been Murray’s favorite surface and he looked especially vulnerable heading into this French Open, but three players so far have tried and failed to take him out. Andrey Kuznetsov took a set, Martin Klizan did the same and almost forced a fifth, and Juan Martin Del Potro went toe-to-toe with the world No. 1 for most of two full sets before falling 7-6(8), 7-5, 6-0 on Saturday. Now it is the surprising Khachanov who gets a shot at the top-ranked Scot on Monday.

Khachanov has advanced through the draw with wins over Nicolas Jarry, Tomas Berdych, and John Isner, dropping one set to both Jarry and Isner in the process. The 21-year-old registers at 53rd in the rankings and will climb into the top 40 for the first time in his career next week even if he loses this match. Despite never being broken by Isner, Khachanov served at a horrendous 48 percent and double-faulted eight times. He now moves from one of the weakest returners in tennis to one of the best, so the Russian will have to turn in an exponentially better serving performance in order to have any chance against Murray–who produced one of his best matches of 2017 against Del Potro.

Pick: Murray in 4

34 Comments on French Open R4 previews and predictions: Wawrinka vs. Monfils, Murray vs. Khachanov

  1. Wawrinka in 4

    Khachanov in 4. He’ll be too string mentally for Murray and not likely to roll over like most of his opponents.

  2. Khachanov can break serve more than he holds serve! What’s the point of breaking serve when you can’t hold your own? No advantage there!

  3. Yes!!!…To QF we go Andy!!..I guess ‘inside information’ that Karen has about Andy not working properly today!…That’s the point,it’s no use if u know this and that about your opponent…to execute it on court that’s all that matter’s…Karen is a talented young nextgen…hope he will keep improving in the future…

  4. Nobody seems to believe in Murray anymore. But it looks like he is playing himself back into form. The real test will be if he can get to the semis. But he has done well to finally go deep in a slam.

      • Now it’s Stan and Monfils.

        I hope Monfils can make a match of it. I think Stan is getting himself into guys for lm now, so it will be tough.

        I really enjoy watching Monfils when he’s on his game.

        • Autocorrect garbled what I said again!

          I meant to say that Stan is getting into good form now, so it will be tough! *

    • It looks like Murray is likely to reach at least the SF here; judging from how Kei and Verdasco play in this R4 match, Murray should be able to beat any of them.

      After the first two more competitive and tougher matches, Murray’s path became clear to the SF, when he had a still rusty and quite unfit Delpo, followed by a 21 year old and inexperienced guy, and maybe a Kei or a Verdasco who killed each other to reach the QF to meet Murray.

      Stan has Monfils who hasn’t played much this clay season and Monfils is so frail that during his matches, he could get injured anytime. Cilic has Anderson who’s just back from his injury and still finding his way back; Tsonga was already knocked out in the early round; Foggy played one competitive set vs Stan and then showed indifference for the rest of the match and lost.

      Sorry, such is the competition that this half of the draw gives to the two top four players – Murray and Stan. It’s only a Cilic left to challenge one or the two of them, with a Murray vs Stan SF looking more and more inevitable, despite them clearly not in really great form.

      • Lucky,

        I actually think you made a good analysis of that half of the draw. The competition has been lacking.

        Stan doesn’t look to be at his best in the match with Monfils. But he doesn’t need to be. Monfils should have won that first set, but he handed it to Stan. He stumbled in the first set and seemed to lose his focus. He really can get injured at almost any time.

        Murray has managed to string together some wins finally. He’s gotten some luck with the draw. Khachanov wasn’t going to be able to handle Murray. Somehow Nishi struggled his way through another match. I don’t see him having much left against Murray. He’s another one who can get injured at any time.

        I can’t see anything stopping it from being Stan and Murray in the semis.

      • Can’t say I agree with you, Lucky. As I said previously, Stan’s potential route to win the tournament may be the toughest at a slam ever, from R2: Dolgopolov, Fognini, Monfils, Cilic, Murray, Nadal/Djokovic. Three slam winners and three very talented dangerous players (compare Nadal’s draw). Murray has played himself back to form, and Cilic is playing great tennis. Stan is no shoo-in to win his next match.

  5. monfils beat monteiro on one leg. surprised gasquet ended up being the one who retired.

    wawa should win this.

  6. Monfils has wasted too many break chances in the early going. That could come back to haunt him. Stan’s creating wicked angles with his backhand.

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