The three main contenders vying to reach this year’s French Open final from the bottom half of he draw, all successfully negotiated through their round matches against tricky opponents, albeit assisted by a change in the weather.
Clay in Roland Garros feels great this year. As I said after the first round, now I know, to beat me, guys have to play good. I mean, this is always possible. This was not a question. Daniil Medvedev
For the first five days the heat has kept the conditions dry which benefited the big servers, more specifically the two big Americans John Isner and Reilly Opelka who have been reveling in that environment.
Rain and drizzle certainly put a dampener on their chances with Opelka the first of the two to go down with a bump as the second seed Daniil Medvedev swept past him 6-4 6-2 6-4.
The Russian out-aced the American 10-5 converting five of the 16 break points he held against him, thereby nullifying the 6’11” giant’s biggest weapon, containing him to 39% of second serve winners and 62% off his first serve.
Medvedev in contrast dropped just four points on his first serve the entire match and as a result, was very satisfied with his performance.
“Clay in Roland Garros feels great this year,” said Medvedev who hadn’t won a match at the French in his four previous appearances.
“As I said after the first round, now I know, to beat me, guys have to play good. I mean, this is always possible. This was not a question.
“It’s better to feel like this when you know you can lose to yourself just playing bad.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas was given the honour of playing to an empty Court Philippe-Chatrier in the evening session against Isner who hadn’t dropped his serve in the previous two rounds and was confident the conditions would favour him and his bazooka like deliveries.
And it looked like he had the measure of the fifth seeded Greek when he broke late in what was a tight and close first set to close it out and go ahead in the match.
Tstsipas is not one to let his head drop. He immediately regrouped to level and then fought off a strong counter-attack from Isner in the third before sealing,
after two hours and 38-minutes, a 5-7 6-3 7-6(3) 6-1 victory in the fourth.
“You know John (Isner) he is a big guy who hits amazing strokes from time to time and I can honestly learn a lot playing against him,” Tsitsipas said following his victory.
“He is one of the toughest guys to play and his serve is such a big obstacle. I didn’t have the best of starts, but things started to go my way in the second set and I started to find my returns – I started to feel my game a bit better from the baseline and my head cleared up which led to that important victory.”
Earlier Alexander Zverev kept his own campaign on track with a comfortable 6-2 7-5 6-2 win over the Serb Laslo Djere under the closed roof of Chatrier.
“I felt comfortable today on court,” Zverev said. “It’s getting important, because the matches are getting tougher. The opponents are getting tougher. I feel like now is the time where you need to start playing your best tennis to get through.”
Next up for the German sixth seed, is Kei Nishikori who after two 5-setters in his opening matches, was given some extra time off when his opponent, the Swiss born Finn Henri Laaksonen, retired after falling behind 7-5, with an abductor injury.
“Have to say definitely that was big chance for me for me play just one set today and look to recover well today and tomorrow,” said Nishikori. “Especially against Sascha (who) I have next. You know, I have been losing to him last two matches or two tournaments in a row. This is third week in a row.
“Not easy, but it will give me a little bit of chance to get back to 100% again. Yeah, I’m kind of excited to play.”
The elimination of Fabio Fognini and Casper Ruud, as seeded players, feature as the upsets of the sixth day at Roland Garros.
Federico Delbonis of Argentina ousted the 27th seed from Italy Fognini, 6-4 6-1 6-3 while the 21-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, batted over four and a half hours to edge out, on his fifth match point, the Norwegian seeded 15, Ruud ,7-6(3) 2-6 7-6(6) 0-6 7-5.
It was certainly the match of the day and kept the lucky spectators allowed in, enthralled.
“I think this match represents Roland Garros,” the young Spaniard, who will be celebrating his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, said.
“This match was very tough. He played unbelievable. In the fifth set, we were in the battle every game. Every game we want to win, to break the serve of the other guy. Then was, with all emotions inside, with all the crowd singing your name, was unbelievable.”
Ruud was certainly disappointed. “It’s tough but it’s a part of the game. It’s a part of the sport. You just have to accept it. You can’t dwell too much on it. Luckily in this sport there will be new chances in couple of weeks already. So, I mean, it was very tough, and, yeah, I’m of course a bit sad but it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.”