Tuesday French Open Quarterfinal Preview: Thiem or Zverev?

Tuesday French Open Quarterfinal Preview: Thiem or Zverev? article feature image

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Photo: Alexander Zverev

Day 9 was action packed — as our first hitter, Diego Schwartzman, started off the morning with a riveting comeback victory over Kevin Anderson from two sets down.

After winning the first two sets 6-2, 6-1 — and then going up 5-3 in the third — it looked as though Anderson would move on to the quarters with ease. But, to crudely quote Jake LaMotta — or Robert De Niro’s portrayal of him in Raging Bull, at any rate — he never got Schwartzman down, Ray.

And, from there, the melt began.

Anderson failed to serve the match out at 5-3 in the third, before dropping the set. And then it was déjà vu all over again in the fourth set — as Schwartzman clawed back AGAIN from down 3-5 to force a fifth.

Schwartzman, ultimately, wrestled control of the match in that decisive fifth set — to the delight of anyone who backed our first hitter. He completed the comeback with an epic scoreline of 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (0), 6-2.

On the other hand, our other hitter didn’t fare as well. I expected multiple tiebreaks in the match between John Isner and Juan Martin del Potro — but, in seriously shocking fashion, the pair didn’t play a single one.

And that usually spells trouble when backing Isner, as we did Monday. The Argentine tucked the match away in rather tidy fashion 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Split for us on the day — and time to look ahead to Tuesday, where we have two quarterfinal matches awaiting us. First, we’ll get a rematch of the Madrid final (and meeting of newly budding rivals): Domi Thiem (-155) vs. Sascha Zverev (+140) on Philippe Chatrier. And, following that, on Suzanne Lenglen Court, we’ll see Novak Djokovic (-1250) vs. Marco Cecchinato (+650).

With the latter match so heavily priced in favor of Nole — and not many “upset vibes” surrounding Cecchinato, who won his first match at a Grand Slam this tournament — we’ll focus on the first match of the day on the ATP side. Stuck will also close with a quick preview of both WTA quarterfinal matches on Tuesday. Let’s get to it.

ATP Daily Hitter

Dominic Thiem (-155) vs. Sascha Zverev (+140)

H2H: Thiem leads 4-2
8 a.m. ET

Well, things officially get “real” at the French Open on Tuesday with this match. Thiem, who’s made the last two semifinals at Roland Garros, comes into this one as a slight favorite. But keep in mind that Zverev straight-setted Thiem in their last match on clay in the Madrid final.

Personally, I like Domi to get it done on Philippe Chatrier — which has been his stomping grounds over the past few years. Not only will the on-court conditions favor Thiem, but the weather should as well. The forecast calls for rain on Tuesday — and, if that’s the case, the heavy conditions should benefit the Austrian more. Zverev’s big serve and groundstrokes won’t zip through the air as fast as they would on a sunny day.

Zverev has also spent a ton of time on-court this tournament. I get the feeling that those three consecutive five-setters he’s played in could loom large in this one — especially when you consider how much tennis he’s played over the last month. Thiem hits such a heavy ball, which will only get heavier in damp conditions. I worry that Zverev won’t have the legs to beat Domi in a best of five.

Then again, Zverev has wiggled himself out of a ton of tight spots this tournament — and surely one more isn’t beyond the spectrum of possibility. But, all things considered, I fancy Thiem to show his clay class in this one — and avenge his Madrid defeat. Keep in mind that Zverev won that match back in Madrid with the strength of his first serve, winning 83% of his first-serve points.

But those Madrid results can be somewhat deceiving, considering the boost that big servers receive from the altitude there. Before that match, Thiem had won each of their three previous meetings on clay — all of which came in 2016.

  • Munich semifinal: 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
  • Nice final: 6-4, 3-6, 6-0
  • French Open R32: 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

On a court such as Chatrier, where Thiem has become a household name, I simply think this is his spot. Domi should have fresher legs and plenty of confidence — especially in a best-of-five format. Lay it with the Austrian.

The Hitter: Domi Thiem -155

WTA Outlook

Madison Keys (-330) vs. Yulia Putintseva (+270)

The first quarterfinal will feature Keys and Poots at 8 a.m. ET on Suzanne Lenglen. This line looks a little high, but the American will have the match on her racket. That said, Keys will also have all of the pressure, and always has the potential to error herself out of any match.

Yulia, who’s never an easy out on the dirt, certainly won’t make it easy for Keys and should play loose. Remember that she is playing with house money, as she came back from a 6-1 4-0 deficit against Qiang Wang.

Putintseva won their only career meeting in a third set tiebreaker — on a hard court in Tokyo in 2016. This will also mark her second quarterfinal appearance at Roland Garros, while Keys will make her first.

Daria Kasatkina (-116) vs. Sloane Stephens (+104)

It took two days and wasn’t easy, but Kasatkina defeated No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki (the sixth top-2 win of her brief career) to make her first Slam quarterfinal. Now she is listed as the favorite to defeat Stephens to make her first career major semifinal.

Stephens stole a win over Camila Giorgi (8-6 in the third set) but won her three other matches with ease — dropping just eight total games. She will make her fourth career major quarterfinal, but first at the French Open. The 2017 U.S. Open champion will certainly own the experience advantage in this match, as she has played and succeeded on this stage before.

However, at her best, Kasatkina should outclass the American on clay. The Russian has an absolutely beautiful clay-court game. She has a gorgeous down-the-line backhand and enough pace on her forehand to put balls away. She is a shotmaker with a loaded repertoire on the dirt. However, her biggest strengths are defense, point construction, tennis IQ and touch. She is a wall on clay and just understands how to structure points like she’s 31, not 21.

With that said, she needs to serve better on Tuesday. She got away with lobbing first serves in against Caro, who can’t generate her own power. Stephens doesn’t have that issue. If DashKa serves like Sara Errani again, Sloane will make her pay.

The two have split two career meetings, with Kasatkina getting Sloane in straight sets earlier this year on a hard court at Indian Wells. Stephens won their matchup in 2016 on the green clay of Charleston.

I think this is a great match to live bet. If Daria has her serve early and doesn’t show too many nerves in her first Slam quarterfinal, I think she moves on. — Stuckey

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