Kei Nishikori and Fernando Verdasco are set for another meeting at Roland Garros as fourth-round action continues on Monday. A quarterfinal spot will also be at stake when Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson collide for the first time since the 2014 U.S. Open.
Fernando Verdasco vs. (8) Kei Nishikori
Nishikori and Verdasco will be clashing for the sixth time in their careers and for the second straight year at the French Open when they meet again on Monday. Their 2016 showdown came in the third round, and it did not disappoint–going the distance before Nishikori survived 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4. That leveled their head-to-head series at 2-2 and the Japanese world No. 9 now leads it 3-2 after prevailing 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-1 earlier this season in Miami.
No stranger to playing final sets, Nishikori also went five with Hyeon Chung on Sunday. Their contest was suspended due to rain on Saturday evening with Chung leading by two breaks in fourth, a set he closed out easily only to eventually succumb 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(4), 0-6, 6-4. Verdasco steamrolled into the last 16 in much different fashion, as he crushed Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 and got off the court before rain arrived. The 37th-ranked Spaniard preceded that result with a four-set upset of Alexander Zverev and a five-set victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert. With Verdasco in this kind of form, Nishikori must be 100 percent in order to advance. That has not been the case for him all year long and it was not the case for him again versus Chung.
Pick: Verdasco in 4
Kevin Anderson vs. (7) Marin Cilic
Cilic and Anderson will be squaring off for the seventh time in their careers on Monday. They have not faced each other since the 2014 U.S. Open, when Cilic won a third-round contest 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on his eventual way to the title. With that the eighth-ranked Croat took a 5-1 lead in the head-to-head series, but it is tied up at one victory apiece on clay. The two veterans met twice during the 2013 clay-court swing, with Cilic cruising 6-2, 6-3 in Monte-Carlo before Anderson exacted revenge by prevailing 6-3, 7-6(7) in Rome.
Like several other 2016 World Tour Finals qualifiers, Cilic has found the sledding to be tougher in 2017. This fortnight’s No. 7 seed is just 16-10, but he is showing signs of heating up with a clay-court title in Istanbul and straight-set wins at Roland Garros over Ernests Gulbis, Konstantin Kravchuk, and Feliciano Lopez. No opponent has even managed to take more than three games in any set. Anderson has defeated Malek Jaziri (three sets), Nick Kyrgios (four), and Kyle Edmund (five). The 6’8” South African trailed Edmund two sets to one on Saturday but recovered for a 6-7(6), 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 triumph after three hours and 58 minutes. Anderson is making a nice comeback from several injury-plagued seasons, but this is a rough matchup for him as the numbers suggest. These two players showcase similar styles and Cilic seems to execute almost all of those tactics just a little bit better.