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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for Tennis Day 6 In Paris: Nadal, Zverev, and More

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal headlines Friday’s schedule at Roland Garros, where spots in the proverbial second week are at stake. Third-round action is beginning with Nadal and Alexander Zverev–among plenty of others–on the schedule.

Ricky previews some of the best matchups and makes his predictions.

Stefano Travaglia vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s bid for a 13th French Open title is off to a routine start despite unusually poor conditions for him in Paris. The second-ranked Spaniard opened with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Egor Gerasimov before destroying Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3.

A friendly draw–at least for now–continues on Friday, when Nadal faces Travaglia for the first time. The 74th-ranked Italian had been a horrendous 2-8 lifetime in the main draws of Grand Slams prior to this fortnight, but he has advanced by taking out Pablo Andujar in straight sets and Kei Nishikori in five. This a great result for Travaglia, but inexperience combined with the toughest opponent possible and a five-setter two days earlier is a recipe for disaster.

Pick: Nadal in 3

(6) Alexander Zverev vs. (Q) Marco Cecchinato

Zverev and Cecchinato will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers and for the second time at a Grand Slam this season. Their only previous meeting came in round one of the Australian Open, where Zverev cruised 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3. Clay obviously gives Cecchinato a much better chance, as this is the only surface on which he has ever posted decent results. In fact, the 110th-ranked Italian was better than decent at this event in 2018, when he upset Novak Djokovic en route to the semifinals. Cecchinato is trying to make another run two years later, having followed up successful qualification with wins over Alex de Minaur and Juan Ignacio Londero.

Zverev needed five sets to outlast Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Wednesday after easing past Dennis Novak in his opener. Although the U.S. Open runner-up may not be at his very best on clay, he has reached the quarterfinals at each of the past two French Opens. At their respective levels, there is no surface and no conditions in which Cecchinato should be able to prevail.

Pick: Zverev in 4

Former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka has lost just one set in two tournament wins.

Other matches:

Thiem over Ruud in 4 
– Could be the best match of the day; an absolute clay-court war.

Fritz over Sonego in 4 – Fritz is no clay-court specialist, but neither is Sonego. The American is simply the better all-around player and has more experience at this stage of slams.

Schwartzman over Gombos in 3 – Schwartzman is on fire, and Gombos being in the third round is borderline hard to believe.

In his French Open debut, 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner is playing for his first Grand Slam third-round appearance.

Wawrinka over Gaston in 3 – Wawrinka is starting to look like the Wawrinka of old. And how is Gaston in the third round?

Sinner over Coria in 3 – Coria benefitted from playing Benoit Paire in round two. Sinner will blast him off the court.

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