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Ricky’s Picks • Preview For The French Open Tennis • Thiem vs. Cecchinato And Nadal vs. Del Potro

Dominic Thiem of Austria plays Alexander Zverev of Germany during their men’s quarter final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 05 June 2018. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT



Ricky’s preview picks for the French Open semifinals: Thiem vs. Cecchinato and Nadal vs. Del Potro


By Ricky Dimon


The men’s semifinals will take center stage at Roland Garros on Friday, when the proverbial undercard features Dominic Thiem and Marco Cecchinato. After that it will be the main event, with Rafael Nadal going up against Juan Martin Del Potro.


Ricky previews the two matches and makes his picks.


Marco Cecchinato vs. (7) Dominic Thiem

When a rough French Open draw was laid out for Dominic Thiem two weeks ago, his expected path to the final included Kei Nishikori in round four, Alexander Zverev in the quarters, and Novak Djokovic in the semis. Nishikori in round four? Check. Zverev in the quarters? Check. Djokovic in the semis? Nope! Checchinato of all people stunned the former world No. 1 6-3, 6-7(4), 1-6, 7-6(11) on Wednesday. The 72nd-ranked Italian preceded that milestone achievement by beating Marius Copil (10-8 in the fifth set), Marco Trungelliti, Pablo Carreno Busta, and David Goffin. Amazingly, Cecchinato had not won a single Grand Slam match prior to this fortnight.


The underdog’s reward is a third career meeting with Thiem (first at the main-tour, main-draw level). They split their two previous contests (both on hard), with Cecchinato winning 6-3, 6-4 in the final of a 2013 Futures tournament at home in Italy before Thiem prevailed 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 2014 Doha qualifying. Now a three-time RG semifinalist, the eighth-ranked Austrian has advanced with victories over Ilya Ivashka, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Kei Nishikori, and Alexander Zverev. Going up against arguably the second best clay-courter in the world on this kind of stage may signal the end of Cecchinato’s incredible run.

Prediction: Thiem in 3


(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (5) Juan Martin Del Potro

Nadal and Del Potro will be squaring off for the 15th time in their careers. The head-to-head series stands at 9-5 in favor of the world No. 1, who has faced Del Potro just twice on clay and won both of those encunters (7-5, 6-3, 6-2 at Roland Garros in 2007 and 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(0) with home-court advantage in the 2011 Davis Cup final). Del Potro had been on a two-match winning streak against Nadal before succumbing 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 in the 2017 U.S. Open semifinals.


The 2009 U.S. Open champ is making a somewhat surprising bid for a second major title. He retired from a recent Rome match because of a groin injury but has regained his mojo with FO wins over Nicolas Mahut, Julien Benneteau, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, John Isner, and Marin Cilic. Nadal–who has dropped one total set two Del Potro’s two–earned his place in the last four by ousting Simone Bolelli, Guido Pella, Richard Gasquet, Maximilian Marterer, and Diego Schwartzman. The Spaniard is now 24-1 on clay this season, 84-2 lifetime at Roland Garros, and 109-2 for his career in best-of-five matches on this surface. Del Potro could snag a set if he plays aggressive, high-risk tennis to shorten points, but it is impossible to pick against Nadal under these circumstances.

Prediction: Nadal 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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