The French Open Men’s quarterfinals start on Tuesday with former champion Novak Djokovic and #2 seed Alexander Zverev bidding to reach the Roland Garros semifinals. Our panelists Yesh Ginsburg, Nurein Ahmed, Brett Margolies, Brandon Wall, Manuel Traquete, and Steen Kirby offer their predictions.
Alexander Zverev vs. Dominic Thiem
Steen: I’ve been extremely disappointed in the criticism leveled at Zverev for having to play multiple five set matches this tournament. It’s not efficient, but he’s been clutch to step up and beat some (quality) opposition over the length of the match. Thiem however is rolling on clay right now and even if Zverev had eased his way to this stage, I still think Thiem would win on this surface. Thiem in 4
Yesh: This should be one of the better quarterfinals, assuming Zverev is playing well. Thiem showed some strange nerves at the end of the third set against Nishikori. Assuming those don’t show up again, I think Thiem will be able to grind out a win over the higher seed here. Thiem in 4
Brett: Zverev is playing on the edge right now but is getting through which is what matters. Thiem is more in form right now after a relatively easy win over Kei Nishikori. I think this one goes five, but won’t end with Zverev on top. Thiem in 5
Brandon: Zverev’s career best performance at a Grand Slam will come to an end when he faces Thiem in the quarterfinals. Having already played three five set matches, Zverev will not have the energy required to get past the relentless Austrian.
Thiem in 4
Nurein: They say Alexander Zverev is the King of five setters. He could barely win a five set match in the slams. Here he is trying to do it the hard way. His third successive comeback victory (all of which have been in five sets) shows that the German is slowly living up to his reputation as the second seed. Zverev beat Thiem in Madrid final, but the Austrian has been miles ahead of Zverev at this tournament. In fact had Damir Dzmhur not chocked in 3rd round, we would have still been talking about why Zverev can’t beat a top 50 player in a Grand Slam. For me Dominic Thiem is the favorite in this match and he should have enough in his locker to beat Zverev. Thiem in 4
Manuel: A repeat of the Madrid final, where Zverev won in relatively easy fashion. But at Roland Garros, Thiem looks like the better and more comfortable player of the two, judging by both their runs so far this year and years past. Zverev has only got to this stage by the very skin of his teeth and after 3 consecutive 5-set wins his time in Paris might well be up. Thiem in 4
Novak Djokovic vs. Marco Cecchinato
Steen: It’s hard to see Djokovic losing here. Cecchinato has certainly made his mark at Roland Garros, but getting further would require a feat that I’m not yet convinced he’s capable of. Djokovic should be pleased that he had a relatively smooth path into the late rounds. Djokovic in 3
Yesh: Cecchinato’s story is an amazing one, and he will have the best shot he could ever have at beating Djokovic, who still is far from his best. From Djokovic’s point of view, he was gifted with an incredible opportunity, with a quarterfinal opponent that he should be able to beat easily. Djokovic in 3
Brett: I’m surprised how well Djokovic has played so far. Even though he showed signs of improvement in Rome, the fact that he’s doing it at a major is impressive. He’ll face Cecchinato who I don’t think poses much of a threat. The two practice together in Monte Carlo which might give Cecchinato some confidence, but this should be routine. Djokovic in 3
Brandon: Cecchinato has been the surprise of the tournament, beating two of the Top 10 seeds in a very comfortable fashion. However, Djokovic looks like a man on a mission, having only dropped one set through his first four matches. The Serbian should have no trouble against the unseeded Cecchinato. Djokovic in 3
Nurein: If you have told me pre-tournament that Djokovic would have to play Marco Cecchinato for a spot in the French Open semifinals, I would have laughed at you- because there was no chance of it happening. But everybody loves an underdog success story and his surprise victory over Goffin was Grand Slam tennis at its finest. Cecchinato also beat Carreno Busta which just shows he is not a mediocre tennis player. But Djokovic is looking very sharp and I’m afraid the Italian’s stay in Paris is pretty much over. Djokovic in 3
Manuel: The Italian still being alive in this tournament is an enormous surprise to pretty much everyone and at this point you’re almost afraid to rule him out anymore, but still there’s a clear gulf in class here in favor of Djokovic. Djokovic in 3