ATP French Open Fourth Round Preview: Best Values for Monday
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: John Isner
We’ve got the remaining four R16 matches on the men’s side scheduled for Monday, which is shaping up to be a great day for tennis.
Sunday’s slate, as I write this, has played out pretty close to how we expected it to. Sascha Zverev got through his 4R test, but Karen Khachanov pushed him to five sets. The German, yet again, came back from a set down, which may come back to bite him later in the tourney. Also, Domi Thiem blew Kei Nishikori off the court in the first two sets, but the Japanese player responded in the third before Thiem eventually got through in four.
With the other two matches (David Goffin-Marco Cecchinato and Novak Djokovic-Fernando Verdasco) yet to kick off, it’s time to peek ahead to tomorrow’s card — and pick our next moves.
Odds-wise, Rafa Nadal (-10000) is the only large favorite on the board — ahead of his clash against Max Marterer. Each of the other three favorites sit in the -120 to -200ish range. And, seeing that I expect Rafa to advance relatively sweat-free, let’s focus on those other matches (including two daily hitters) for Monday.
Marin Cilic (-222) vs. Fabio Fognini (+170)
H2H: Cilic leads 2-1
Honestly, it’s hard to figure how this match will play out. From a class perspective, Marin Cilic has proved to be the better player (as a past Grand Slam champion) — but, on a clay court, I could see Fabio Fognini matching the Croat’s level.
Cilic has not really been tested at all this tournament, outside of a dropped set against Hubert Hurkacz, which can prove to be a double-edged sword. Fognini, on the other hand, had to come back from a set down — in his last match against Kyle Edmund — and has proven his resiliency.
While I think the methodical — if not boring, at times — Cilic should have too much consistency for Fognini, I’m not ruling the Italian out. So, for me, I will pass, but the value lies with Fogna. Don’t be surprised if Fognini comes out and punches Cilic in the mouth. The question then becomes: how will the Croat respond?
The Tip: Pass
ATP DAILY HITTERS
John Isner (+185) vs. Juan Martin del Potro
H2H: del Potro leads 6-4
I like John Isner in this match. Juan Martin del Potro’s tournament thus far appears relatively comprehensive on paper, as he has dropped just one set in his first-round match against Nico Mahut, but — if you’ve watched the Argentine — he’s clearly not playing at his top level (specifically movement-wise), after citing a potential groin injury coming into the tournament.
Isner, too, has dropped just one set — a tiebreak against Horacio Zeballos — and has executed his game plan to perfection. It’s important for John, as he heads to the second week of Grand Slams, to keep matches short — since fitness can always be an issue. I was pleased to see Big John put down Pierre Hugues Herbert in straight sets in his last match, preserving some of his energy for this showdown.
I’ve been impressed by Isner all tournament. Sure, he’s serving big as usual — but he’s also holding his own in rallies with a large and in charge forehand. There aren’t many times where you can say Delpo’s forehand ISN’T the biggest shot on the court — but, the way John’s been deploying missiles with his own — it’s hard to argue that John’s forehand hasn’t been the more dangerous weapon at the moment.
Through three rounds, Isner has already fired off 203 winners — yes, you read that number correctly. And, in a match that will likely come down to anywhere from 3-5 tiebreaks, I think John’s home-run-forehand will be the difference.
The Tip: At +185, I’m backing Big John as a hitter.
Diego Schwartzman (-125) vs. Kevin Anderson (+100)
H2H: Anderson leads 2-0
I love the looks of Schwartzman in this spot. The Argentine baseliner got the better of Borna Coric in his last match — and really impressed me, at that. After his breakthrough last year at the US Open, Schwartzman struggled somewhat out of the gates in 2018. However, he appears to finally be rounding back into form now.
Schwartzman was a wall against Coric, getting everything back — and finding cheeky passing lanes. I expect much of the same against Kevin Anderson.
With this being the fourth match for KA — and the South African already having played 11 sets in Paris — I think legs could also play a factor. Schwartzman has yet to drop a set at this tournament and should have an extra bounce in his step after getting through Coric in the last round.
Expect Schwartzman to post up 5-6 feet behind the baseline and enter “wall mode,” getting back everything KA throws his way. With fresh legs, perhaps KA would have the firepower to hit through Schwartzman over the course of a best-of-five sets match. But, at this point in the tourney, I like the Argentine to wear down and frustrate Anderson.
The Tip: I’m launching onto Diego as a slight favorite.