And then there were eight. In both draws, history held to form: seven of the men’s eight top seeds are standing, while only two of eight of the top-seeded women remain, joined by a host of lower seeds and names known only to tennis fanatics. Or, as we like to say, the tournament has finally begun.
The men’s round of 16 matches were straightforward and quite boring, with the anxiety over if Gael Monfils could return to court in the same form that tied him with Roger Federer the day before the greatest question. He didn’t, and even the upset of Jo-Wilfred Tsonga over Tomas Berdych less resembled an upset than two similar styles battling with the crowd altering the scales in favor of the Frenchman. On the women’s side, Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens battled out another timeless three-set match, with Williams’ experience and power too much for the rattled youngster. 13th-ranked Lucie Safarova, leaving the draw open for previous champions Williams and Ana Ivanovic to possibly meet in the finals, stunned defending champion Maria Sharapova. But more on that speculation later.
Men’s Single Quarterfinals Predictions
#1 Novak Djokovic vs. #6 Rafael Nadal
Nadal’s ranking isn’t even the weirdest part – it’s that the draw fell so that the sixth seed would align with the world number one in the quarterfinals, at just a 25% chance. Novak Djokovic’s chance at a career Grand Slam won’t come easy like Roger Federer avoiding Nadal in 2009. No, to capture the elusive title at Roland Garros, the Serb will need to first overcome the greatest clay court player in history and then remind himself he’s not crowned yet and win two more matches. A daunting task, but one that Nole is certainly up for.
Novak defeated Rafa handily the last time the pair met on clay, and the fiery celebrations and singularly-focused look of 2015 Djokovic suggests that the Spaniard’s slump will reap benefits for the year’s most hotly-anticipated match. No Mayweather-Pacquiao, this is Garry Kasparov versus Deep Blue – the greatest man, no doubt, but faced with the ultimate machine. The hype will be lived up to, but certainly not in a match going the distance.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic def. Rafael Nadal 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(9)
#3 Andy Murray vs. #7 David Ferrer
Methodical tennis versus clay court methodical tennis with great hair. The stylistic differences are naught, though the aesthetics might suggest otherwise. Fresh off a marriage and an undefeated streak, Ferrer should look to teach Murray that true love has its peaks and valleys. Two clay court titles coming into Roland Garros is a peak. Facing a man who has thrived as the most unknown successful tennis player in this era in a match with absolutely zero importance compared to the rest of the day’s card? Valley.
Prediction: David Ferrer def. Andy Murray 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 1-6, 8-6
#5 Kei Nishikori vs. #14 Jo-Wilfred Tsonga
Five Frenchmen entered the Round of 16, and only Jo-Wilfred Tsonga survived. The scrappy style of Nishikori has adapted well to the dirt, not having dropped a set and only playing three matches courtesy of a Benjamin Becker walkover. This has all the makings of a Tsonga semifinal, as the lack of experience facing substantial opponents and facing a raucous French crowd will propel the powerful game past the youngster in his first French Open quarterfinal.
Prediction: Jo-Wilfred Tsonga def. Kei Nishikori 7-5, 7-5, 6-4
#8 Stan Wawrinka vs. #2 Roger Federer
As Drake said, you know how this match goes. Federer owns his countryman, and will propel himself to
an unthinkable French Open semifinal against Jo-Wilfred.
Prediction: Roger Federer def. Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
Women’s Single Quarterfinals Predictions
#1 Serena Williams vs. The Field
We’ve now arrived at the Serena point of the tournament on the women’s side of the field. The time where major challengers have either willingly fallen away before meeting their queen (Sharapova, Halep), or have themselves been cast aside in the path of complete domination (Azarenka, Stephens). Betting on Serena at this point will lose you money. Versus the field, she is anywhere from 5/4 to 11/8. On her own, she’s 4/6. Analyses are irrelevant when you have a career to hoist in the face of any challenger foolish enough to think they’ll stop a third French Open title (to make it THREE CAREER GRAND SLAMS) and a twentieth overall Grand Slam title.
Prediction: Serena Williams loses a total of 12 games over the next three matches.