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Ricky’s Picks | Preview For French Open Tennis Men’s Action: Nadal vs. Schwartzman And Cilic vs. Del Potro

Rafael Nadal of Spain plays Maximilian Marterer of Germany during their men’s round of 16 match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 04 June 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Rafael Nadal will continue his French Open campaign when he takes the court for quarterfinal action against Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday. Nadal is obviously a massive favorite, but a more competitive contest could take place between Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro.

 

Ricky previews Wednesday’s two matches and makes his predictions.

 

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. Diego Schwartzman

Simone Bolelli and Maxmilian Marterer may not have been able to bring any better tennis to the table in their respective Roland Garros efforts against Nadal. They brought the house. Even so, the world No. 1 did not surrender a single set en route to another quarterfinal berth on the red clay of Paris. In between a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(9) defeat of Bolelli and a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4) victory over Marterer, Nadal mauled Guido Pella and Richard Gasquet while losing a total of 11 games. The 10-time RG champion is now 23-1 on clay this season with titles in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome.

 

Next up for Nadal on Wednesday is a sixth career showdown against Schwartzman, who trails the head-to-head series 5-0 and 12-1 in overall sets. Unsurprisingly, both of their previous clay-court contests went the Nadal’s way in convincing fashion; 6-4, 6-4 last spring in Monte-Carlo and 6-3, 6-4 just a few weeks ago in Madrid. Schwartzman has twice put up a good fight on hard courts, succumbing 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5 at the 2015 U.S. Open prior to a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 setback at the 2018 Australian Open. The 12th-ranked Argentine is 11-2 in his last 13 Grand Slam matches, which is almost as shocking as his Monday comeback against Kevin Anderson. Although it was just about an even matchup on paper, the Schwartzman trailed by two sets and by a break in the third, and he also saw Anderson serve for the match twice before somehow triumphing 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(0), 6-2.

 

As if the underdog needed any more odds to be a stacked against him, having spent almost four hours on the court will not help his slim hopes of putting a real scare into Nadal.

Pick: Nadal in 3

 

(3) Marin Cilic vs. (5) Juan Martin Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina plays Jean Benneteau of France during their men?s second round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 31 May 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

Cilic and Del Potro will be facing each other for the 13th time in their careers and for the second time at Roland Garros. Del Potro has a commanding 10-2 lead in the head-to-head series, including 4-0 on clay after cruising 6-3, 7-6(7), 6-1 at the 2012 French Open. They have since squared off three times on hard courts, with Del Potro sweeping that trio of meetings to extend his winning streak against Cilic to seven straight wins.

 

Although he is ranked two spots better than the Argentine at fourth in the world, Cilic may have a tough time turning the tide on Wednesday. After all, Del Potro is an awesome 27-7 in 2018 with titles in Acapulco and Indian Wells. The 2009 U.S. Open champion is now through to his third RG quarterfinal (including one semifinal in 2009)–despite missing the event in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016–following mostly routine wins at the expense of Nicolas Mahut, Julien Benneteau, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and John Isner. Cilic rolled over James Duckworth, Hubert Hurkacz, and Steve Johnson before getting a test from Fabio Fognini, whom he managed to scrape past 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-3 on Monday. The 29-year-old Croat started off slowly on clay earlier this spring, but he laid the foundation for a strong French Open showing by advancing to the Rome Masters semis.

 

This likely where Cilic’s run comes to an end, as an in-form and extremely confident Del Potro clearly has his Cilic’s number and is simply playing better tennis these days.

Pick: Del Potro in 4

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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