ROGER FEDERER and Rafael Nadal are in action at the French Open on Tuesday and Sean Calvert is back to assess their chances in the quarter finals on day 10 in Paris.
The quarter-final round over the last six years has seen six underdog winners from 23 matches (26%) and 48% of the matches in this round have featured at least one tie break.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Roger Federer
Our two superstars in action on day 10, Federer and Nadal, have both been blessed with the luck of the draw in the last couple of days, with each man’s opponent at a distinct disadvantage in terms of fitness and recovery time.
Wawrinka played the longest match of his career and the third longest French Open match of the last two decades on Sunday evening and now has to take on an opponent he’s lost to 22 times after just one day of rest.
Had Wawrinka not been involved in that epic five-hour plus clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday I may have been tempted to go with Stan as underdog here, although surely his price would have been shorter than it is had he not played that marathon.
The fact that he did play it makes me very uneasy about backing Wawrinka here, given that the last time he won a five set match was in the 2017 semi finals here at the French over Andy Murray.
On that occasion he went on to lose rather easily to Nadal in the final, but how much of that was due to fatigue is questionable.
The concern with Wawrinka in this situation is the knee issue that he’s struggled with in the past couple of seasons and his fitness situation makes this hard to bet on, which is a shame.
Stan has won two of his last three on clay against Federer, but the most recent one was back in 2015 when he was a shade over 2-1 underdog, and Stan came through that one in straight sets.
Much has changed since then of course, but Wawrinka has been able to maintain a very high level so far this tournament. Whether he can do it again versus a fresher Federer, who’s played five hours fewer than Stan, remains to be seen.
Given that that win over Murray here in 2017 is Stan’s only top-five win since the 2016 US Open (1-9 in his last 10) the odds are probably about right, as they usually are at this stage of a major.
Interestingly, 10 of their last 13 opening sets against each other on all surfaces have ended either 6-3 or 6-4 and all seven on clay, so with Stan serving very well (91.1% holds this tournament so far) a one-break opening set for Federer is worth thinking about.
Any rain delay will surely aid Wawrinka and slower conditions are likely to be in his favour, too, but with both of Tuesday’s matches we really are guessing as to how fit Stan and Kei will be.
Mine would be that Stan should be fit enough for a set and the 3-1 to Federer at 3.90 is a tentative half point pick here.
It was Rafael Nadal’s birthday on Monday and it would be too easy for me to link that to a gift of a situation on Tuesday, in which he faces an opponent he’s beaten 10 times out of 12 and who comes here not exactly fresh from back-to-back five setters.
Kei Nishikori isn’t often a man you’d want to be on when he’s played one five setter, let alone two back-to-back, and I can’t help but think back to Melbourne at the start of the year when Nishi retired in the quarter finals after a five-hour marathon against Pablo Carreno Busta the previous round.
Even without the fatigue issue, Nishi is up against it in this match-up, having lost all four on clay against Nadal (one he could well have won, but again his body let him down and it was at altitude) and 10 of 12 overall to the Spaniard.
Nishi has held serve against Nadal on clay just 60% of the time and won only 54.5% of his service points against the Spaniard on this surface, which when combined with his very average form this clay swing and severe fatigue, surely spells trouble for Kei.
Again, maybe the rain will delay matters and give him more rest time, but it’s hard to see a slower court favouring Nishikori, so my only thoughts here are on Nadal covering a big handicap or under 8.5 games in set two as Kei most likely weakens.
- 0.5 points win Federer to beat Wawrinka 3-1 (3.90, Unibet)