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Ricky’s Pick For The French Open Tennis Quarterfinals: Federer vs. Wawrinka

Roger Federer of Switzerland plays Leonardo Mayer of Argentina during their men?s round of 16 match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/SRDJAN SUKI
Roger Federer of Switzerland plays Leonardo Mayer of Argentina during their men’s round of 16 match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/SRDJAN SUKI

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Roger Federer took the easy way. Stan Wawrinka chose the scenic route.

 

Whatever the case, the two good friends and familiar foes will be facing each other for the 26th time in their careers when they meet again in the French Open quarterfinals on Tuesday. Federer is dominating the head-to-head series 22-3, which includes a current six-match winning streak and a 20-2 record in their last 22 tilts. Perhaps the only good news for Wawrinka is that one of his wins has come at RG, where he got the job done 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(4) in the QFs on his eventual way to the title. All three of his victories have come on clay.

 

Of course, Federer can also harp on his two RG defeats of his compatriot, both in straight sets (in 2009 and 2011). They most recently squared off earlier in 2019 at the Indian Wells Masters, where the 37-year-old coasted 6-3, 6-4.

 

Federer is an obvious favorite once again, and not just because he comes in 25 spots ahead of Wawrinka at No. 3 in the rankings. Moreover, the underdog is coming off a five-hour and eight-minute battle with Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday, surviving it 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6.

 

Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland plays Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their men?s round of 16 match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland plays Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their men’s round of 16 match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

“To play Roger in quarterfinal, it’s something amazing for me,” Wawrinka explained.  “I’m really happy…. He’s still playing so well. He’s the best player to ever play this sport. So it’s going to be a big challenge. I [haven’t beaten] him many times in all my career, but I did once here so I still do remember that time and was a special day for me.

 

“It’s gonna be a big challenge; will need to recover from today’s match. It was still a long match. I’m getting old, and older and older, so it is not going to be help to be ready for Tuesday. But again, I love that kind of challenge and I’m going to try to do my best to play my best tennis.”

 

When it was pointed out to him that Federer is even older than he is, Wawrinka joked, “But he’s quite better than me, also.”

 

Federer has certainly been more efficient throughout this French Open. While Wawrinka has spent 12 hours and 27 minutes on court (he also played a four-setter with Jozef Kovalik and three straight ‘breakers against Grigor Dimitrov), the Swiss maestro required only seven hours and 10 minutes through his first four matches. He erased Lorenzo Sonego, Oscar Otte, Casper Ruud, and Leonardo Mayer.

 

That does not mean Federer will be taking anything for granted on Tuesday.

 

“On clay, this is when it’s been most tough for me against him,” the 20-time slam champ said of Wawrinka. “If I think back at [the 2014 Monte-Carlo final], French Open here in ’15, and then also he beat me in [Monte-Carlo in 2009]. So on clay it’s been definitely more dangerous than on any other surface for me against him.

 

“Look, it always starts by saying I’m just happy for the guy that he’s back after his knee problems. They were severe, and that’s why I think he’s really happy he got sort of a second life on tour, because I think for a while there he wasn’t sure if he was ever going to come back again. It’s nice to see him pain-free and playing well. I hope he’s not at the level of ’15…. Because then he was crushing the ball. It was unbelievable.”

 

Wawrinka is not all the way back to his level that carried him to three major titles. Is he close? Probably. But close is not good enough–not given Federer’s form and not after a five-set marathon against Tsitsipas.

 

Pick: Federer 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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