We’re now approaching the semi-final stage of the 2019 French Open. While the pre-tournament favourites remain in the running in both the men and women’s, there has also been plenty of surprises. Read on for a French Open update from multiple Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander.
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The final weekend of this year’s French Open is now upon us and we’ll soon have the final four on both sides of the draw. The men’s tournament has been as predictable as ever with the top four favourites still in the running.
The women’s tournament however has been full of shocks and only Simona Halep remains from the initial list of players people expected to win.
The conditions have been a bit up and down so far at Roland Garros but it’s looking pretty slow and heavy right now. This means we’re going to see some physical battles and it’s going to be harder for the players to hit winners and keep the games - we could potentially see some pretty long matches.
Before we start looking at today’s matchups, it’s important to remember we’re at a stage where rest is at a minimum. Players will soon be playing back-to-back with no rest days.
If there are some mammoth three or five set matches over the next couple of days, make sure you account for the fatigue they’ll likely bring.
We’re so close to the semi-finals of this year’s tournament, but before that, there’s the small matter of two further quarter-finals for both the men and women before we know who will be contesting those semi-finals. I’ve taken a brief look at these matches below:
Madison Keys vs. Ashleigh Barty
This looks like a great matchup as these are two unbelievably good tennis players who are in great form at the moment. Although it’s hard to split them, they both bring two very different styles to the court.
Maddison Keys is an excellent ball striker who hits it so clean and so hard. Barty might not be as powerful, but she is a very smart player who plays with so much spin and constantly changes it up (unpredictable shots and movement). This match looks to be a battle of power vs. variation.
There are clear positives for both players in this match but I feel like Barty could just edge it.
We’ve been watching her with great interest for almost five years and it’s a bit of a surprise that she is yet to win a Grand Slam (this is actually her first semis) – I think she has a great chance to progress and win the tournament.
Keys, meanwhile, can blow anyone off the court.
Simona Halep vs. Amanda Anisimova
The elite players have been dropping like flies on the women’s side of the draw but most people’s favourite from before the action got underway still remains - Simona Halep. She hasn’t had an easy ride but she’s been getting better and better as the tournament has progressed.
The World No. 1 is coming up against a 17-year-old American who is playing in just her third Grand Slam event in Amanda Anisimova. Big things are expected of the current World No. 51 and she’s has been developing at a rapid rate already.
The US Open last year was her first-ever major event (she got knocked out in the first round) but since then she has made the fourth round of the Australian Open and now the quarter-finals of the French.
As much potential as Anisimova has, you’d have to say it will be a major shock if she goes through to the semi-finals. In terms of getting to the next level, she is a little bit weak, tactically, and, unfortunately for her, that only comes with experience.
Halep, on the other hand, won this event last year and has proven time and time again that she can grind out a win against anyone on the tour.
Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander Zverev
You couldn’t split Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when this tournament began and while there is still little in it, I think Djokovic has done more to convince me he is going to be the one that wins it. He’s looked so relaxed up until this point and looks almost unbeatable.
While Djokovic does look to be in great form with sky high confidence and an aggressive style, in the back of my head I’m thinking back to the ATP Tour Finals last year when Zverev swept him aside with great ease.
I’ve always been a fan of the German and I had him down as a certain multiple Grand Slam winner before 2020. While I still think that can happen, his career has stalled quite a bit over the last year or so (despite that win at the ATP Tour Finals).
Zverev has the ability to cause Djokovic some problems and he has shown he can stay with him in points. I just think over a five set match that this is Novak’s to lose.
Dominic Thiem vs. Karen Khachanov
This is going to be a great matchup and while the slow conditions might hinder both players, they’ll find themselves in the same boat so it should level out.
Both Thiem and Khachanov destroy the tennis ball with almost every shot they hit. They are also incredible athletes that refuse to give up. Unfortunately, something has got to give.
Thiem probably has better court management skills out of the two of them and that could be the difference. He can stand back and rip forehands, he can stand up to the baseline and take it early, or he can go 15 ft. back and play big loopy top hand shots.
The other big positive against Thiem’s name is that he has been this far (and further before). While this is Khachanov’s best ever performance at a Grand Slam, Thiem was competing in the final last year.
This gives Thiem a slight advantage and with these two so closely matched, that could prove to be the difference.
I’m really looking forward to some great tennis today and what should be a thrilling weekend for this year’s French Open. I’ll be back with another article tomorrow to take a look at the full semi-final line-up.