Saturday French Open Picks, Predictions | Fritz vs Cerundolo & Zverev vs Tiafoe
Frey/Getty. Pictured: Taylor Fritz.
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Reaching the second week of a major is now one match away for the bottom half of the Roland Garros draw in action on Saturday. And for them, their eyes could be well beyond their upcoming match. In a half that appears the weakest in my recent memory of any Grand Slam, the door is open to anyone still standing.
As matchups get more and more intriguing, we have two blockbusters set to play tomorrow. As the German Alexander Zverev tries to find his pre-injury form, he takes on surging American Francis Tiafoe in the eighth matchup of their rivalry. Another American Taylor Fritz looks to continue on his clay form and find a way through clay court specialist Francisco Cerundolo.
Here is how I see these two matches playing out.
Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing French Open matches.
Taylor Fritz (-140) vs Francisco Cerundolo (+115)
8:30 a.m. ET
Fritz seems to have found his stride on the clay courts. He is 11-5 in the European clay season and holds wins over great clay courters, most notably a thrashing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo. Historically, Fritz has not fared well at the French Open, as he came into this year with a sub-.500 record, but things feel different this time around. He has the game to make some noise on the surface and after silencing the French crowd yesterday, he will look to continue his run tomorrow.
Cerundolo has been playing terrific tennis as of late. This run of form has boosted him to a new career high ranking of 23 and put him on notice at Roland Garros. The Argentine had failed to win a main draw match here before this year, but having surrendered just one set thus far, he should feel confident in extending his outing to the second week.
In this matchup, we find ourselves in a common predicament of big clay tournaments: a superior tennis player versus a clay court specialist. Can the American fight his way through a world class performer on the clay?
I can't say for sure. What I am confident in is that Cerundolo's movement and ball striking he can produce on clay will surely cause Fritz problems at points in the match. On the other hand, Fritz's cannon serve and heavy groundstrokes will be enough to take advantage of any lapse in focus from the Argentine. With that said, I expect to see momentum swings and streaks of great play from both players. I believe this match will go over the total as they both find ways to adjust and take advantage of their opponent's dips in level.
Pick: Over 37.5 Games (-120 via DraftKings)
Alexander Zverev (-235) vs Frances Tiafoe (+185)
2 p.m. ET
A year ago, Zverev was in the midst of a semi-final run at Roland Garros that had the potential to go further if not for a gruesome ankle injury. Everything is different now. He has not seemed to unlock the level of play he showed us last year, but he is gradually getting better week after week.
He now finds himself playing a man 15 ranking spots higher than himself – Tiafoe.
Over the past year, the American has been playing amazing tennis. He is 23-8 on the year and breaking into the top 10 is becoming a very possible reality. However, he must suffer through his kryptonite of clay courts for one last tournament. Yes, Tiafoe won the title in Houston, but the surface there resembles nothing of the European clay. He is just 4-3 since crossing the Atlantic and had a losing record prior to the French Open.
These two have battled seven times with Zverev holding a 6-1 record, yet none of these matchups occurred on clay. Despite Zverev failing to show the best we have seen from him in the past, I believe his clay court prowess will still be too much for Tiafoe. The German will be able to expose Tiafoe's shortcomings on clay and continue his run in a quarter that is wide open for the taking.
However, as Zverev is still finding his top form, we often see streaks where his level of play completely drops. Tiafoe brings high energy and will take advantage of weak second serves – something Zverev is notorious for when facing pressure. With that said, I think Tiafoe will bolster his way to winning a set, but it will not be enough to find his way through the returning German.
Pick: Zverev to win & both players win a set (+132 via FanDuel)