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Ricky’s picks for Wednesday at the French Open: Nadal vs. Moutet and Zverev vs. Baez

Rafael Nadal continues his chase of a 14th Roland Garros title. (Photo by Hugo Pfeiffer/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal will be back in action at the French Open on Wednesday, with an all-lefty contest against Corentin Moutet next up for the Spaniard. Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev could have a tough test on his hands in the form of Sebastian Baez.

Here are my previews and picks for those two matches.

(WC) Corentin Moutet vs. (5) Rafael Nadal

Alexander Zverev had this to say about Nadal during the German’s initial French Open press conference: “We watched him practice and all of a sudden his forehand is just 20 miles an hour faster. He moves lighter on his feet. There is something about this court that makes him play 30 percent better just being on this court.”

Zverev may be on to something. Nadal arrived at Roland Garros dealing with a foot injury and having failed to win either Masters 1000 event in Madrid or Rome. Nonetheless, nothing but the normal Roland Garros version of Nadal rolled to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 beatdown of Jordan Thompson on Monday afternoon.

The 13-time champion will hope for more of the same on Wednesday against Corentin Moutet. This could have been Nadal vs. Stan Wawrinka in a showdown of multi-Grand Slam winners, but Moutet defeated the 37-year-old Swiss in four sets. That marked the 139th-ranked Frenchman’s sixth ATP-level victory of the season, but it was his first since January. Moutet is in lackluster form at best right now and a first-ever matchup with Nadal is never easy–especially not at Roland Garros. The 23-year-old may not even fare better than Thompson did in round one.

Pick: Nadal in 3

Alexander Zverev of Germany reacts at Roland Garros in Paris, France. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

(3) Alexander Zverev vs. Sebastian Baez

Zverev may need to be 30 percent better than he has been this season–which is solid but unspectacular–because Baez is a tough second-round opponent. The 21-year-old is close to being seeded at Grand Slams, having soared to No. 36 in the world thanks to 19 of his 22 lifetime main-tour match wins coming already in 2022. Baez’s clay-court exploit’s include a runner-up effort in Santiago, the title in Estoril, and two other quarterfinals. He opened in Paris on Monday with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Dusan Lajovic.

There is also plenty of good news for Zverev, however. The third-ranked German reached the Madrid championship match and the Rome semis. He has lost only once to an opponent outside the top 10 since Indian Wells and he has not lost at Roland Garros prior to the fourth round since 2017. Zverev will also take confidence from having beaten Baez 7-6(3), 6-3 a couple of weeks ago in Rome. This could be one of the more entertaining matches of the entire second round, but Zverev will probably once again hit a little bit too big for the diminutive Argentine.

Pick: Zverev in 4

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