Best of 5 French Open Day 6 Including Gael Monfils vs. David Goffin

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The men’s round of 32 begins on Friday, as Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils are among those bidding for a spot in the second week of the French Open. Our panel of Manuel Traquete, Yesh Ginsburg and Bret Margolies offer up their previews, with predictions.

Gael Monfils vs. David Goffin

Yesh: This should be one heck of a third-round match. Monfils isn’t at his best, but Goffin has struggled a bit in this tournament. Monfils in Paris always overperforms, so I think he can get through this in a tight one. Monfils in 5

Manuel: Monfils came into Roland Garros with big question marks about his form and health, and they remain even after he won his first two matches. This has the potential to be either a classic match between two opponents who are pretty evenly matched when playing well, or a repeat of their anticlimatic R3 match at the US Open last year. Goffin in 5

Brett: Gael Monfils always flips the switch in Paris and finds a way to play well even when he’s having a down season. After struggling in his first match, he looked much better in his straight set win over Martin Klizan. Goffin defeated a hobbled Monfils at the US Open, but I think Monfils gets the win in front of his home crowd. Monfils in 4

Novak Djokovic vs. Roberto Bautista Agut

Yesh:  Well, this is it. Djokovic is still clearly dealing with physical issues, while Bautista Agut will have to battle emotions. I think this is a nervy affair that goes five, and Djokovic doesn’t quite have the match fitness yet to hold up. Bautista Agut in 5

Manuel: On paper, RBA has a better chance than usual, playing on emotion to honor his late mother while Djokovic still remains unconvincing, but on a best of 5 match on clay that will probably not be enough to create the upset. Djokovic in 4

Brett: We’re starting to see signs of Djokovic performing like his old self. He’s not hitting as many errors, and the confidence is starting to come back. Bautista Agut will be a real test for the 2016 French Open champion. I think Djokovic will struggle throughout the match but will win eventually. Djokovic in 4

Grigor Dimitrov vs. Fernando Verdasco

Yesh: This should be another great match. Verdasco is mercurial, but Dimitrov just barely survived an inspired challenge by Jared Donaldson. Donaldson probably would have won that match had he not suffered cramps in the final set. I think Dimitrov doesn’t have enough left in the tank for this. Verdasco in 4

Manuel: Dimitrov just barely escaped against clay-challenged Donaldson in the second round and his history at Roland Garros isn’t one of success to put it mildly. But picking Verdasco comes with its own issues as the Spaniard has long been one of the most inconsistent and unpredictable players on tour. This is one of those matches where either player winning in 3 or 5 sets wouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest. Verdasco in 4

Brett: Grigor Dimitrov attributed his fitness as one of the reasons why he was able to get through his 10-8 in the 5th set win over Jared Donaldson. Now he’ll have another test against veteran Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco had a quiet clay season leading up to the French Open, but I think he’ll get past a tired Dimitrov. Verdasco in 4

Kei Nishikori vs. Gilles Simon

Yesh: Simon got blitzed in the first set by Sam Querrey, but then was untroubled the rest of the match. I think he has far more trouble with Nishikori. Nishikori in 3

Manuel: As hard as it may seem to believe given how long both have been on tour, this will be the first match these two players face each other in their careers. The lack of data regarding this matchup makes it difficult to predict, but Nishikori is the better player, is more comfortable on clay and should be able to beat a Gilles Simon who’s very far removed from his best days. Nishikori in 3

Brett: Gilles Simon managed to get past Sam Querrey without playing his best tennis. He’ll have to play much better to defeat Kei Nishikori. Surprisingly this is going to be their first meeting on tour. I think Simon is going to make Nishikori play, but Nishikori wins another five-set match. Nishikori in 5

Lucas Pouille vs. Karen Khachanov

Yesh: Khachanov hits the ball well, but he isn’t used to clay yet and is still inexperienced. Pouille gets it done. Pouille in 3

Manuel: Pouille has finally managed to win consecutive matches in a mandatory tournament this year, but he now faces a player who seems very comfortable in the Paris clay, judging by his run last year and this year so far. They played each other twice this year, with Khachanov winning in Marseille and Pouille the following week in Dubai. Another close match is expected here. Khachanov in 4

Brett: Lucas Pouille hasn’t shown any signs of added pressure at his home slam. Playing a third consecutive day might hurt since he’ll need to be 100% physically against a player in Khachanov who’s played him close in all of their matches. I think Pouille gets off to a slow start but wins. Pouille in 4

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