Damien Kayat previews Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Danil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic vs Matteo Berrettini in the 2021 French Open quarter-finals.
2021 ATP Tour
Roland Garros, Paris, France
Selected Quarterfinals- 8th and 9th June
Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) (46/100) vs Danil Medvedev (5) (33/20)
This year’s French Open has been the equivalent of a trashy Spanish melodrama. The Osaka saga has now been briefly displaced by Federer’s incongruous decision to pull out of a 4th round match. It’s all slightly maddening.
Luckily there are still some great looking matches on the horizon this year. This one has mini-classic written all over it. Just for some added spice, it was Tsitsipas who previously labelled Medvedev’s style as boring.
But the Russian has looked brilliant at this year’s French Open, finally putting to bed this rumour that he can’t play on clay (to be fair, he has lost his last four 1st round matches here). But in 2019 he reached the final in Barcelona and also reached the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Masters.
Medvedev is an intelligent player who continuously adapts his game to new challenges. In reaching his maiden Grand Slam final at the 2019 US Open, he completely revolutionized his style and started to dominate at the net.
I think his victory over clay-court specialist Cristian Garin was a huge harbinger of things to come. Lest we forget, Medvedev also reached the final of this year’s Aussie Open. He clearly has the durability for this portion of a Grand Slam.
Three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas has been in irresistible form this year. The Aussie Open semi-finalist has been the embodiment of consistency all season, negotiating the switches in surfaces with ease.
He will be looking to go one better than last year where he was eliminated at the semi-final stage here in Paris. His victory over Pablo Carreno Busta was exemplary, with a mind-boggling winners/unforced errors split of 41/17.
Following Federer’s abrupt withdrawal, it’s tempting to view the Greek- with his catlike movement- as the natural successor to Federer in terms of effortless cool. But the Greek has the capacity to implode in these crucial moments.
He will need to keep his emotions in check, especially against a man who is well versed in these epic moments.
Vedict: Medvedev to win at 33/20
The Russian absolutely dominates the head-to-head with Tsitsipas at 6-1. Their only ever clay-court meeting ended in a Medvedev victory at the 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters. Clearly Tsitsipas has the power to dictate points from the baseline. But Medvedev has traditionally controlled the Greek with his excellent crosscourt backhand. Medvedev has shown his brilliant defensive abilities already at this year’s French Open.
Value bet: Medvedev to win in 5 at 7/1
I think this has epic written all over it. Medvedev to win in five could be a nice payday at 7/1.
Novak Djokovic (1) (21/100) vs Matteo Berrettini (9) (33/10)
Novak Djokovic overcame a two-set deficit for the 5th time in his Grand Slam career against teenage sensation Lorenzo Musetti. It would have just been like this year’s tournament for the Serbian to crash out at this stage. It was even more surprising considering he hadn’t dropped a set leading into the match.
Furthermore, the Italian ultimately couldn’t continue due to back spasms and stomach cramps. Regardless, you can’t help but admire Djokovic’s never-say-die attitude.
There may be a slightly inevitable feeling about this year’s French Open- look what Nadal did to Sinner- but Djokovic is still the one player who can realistically dethrone the Spaniard.
Djokovic will need to improve sharply against yet another Italian- the red-hot Matteo Berrettini.
I wasn’t overly enthused about the chances of Matteo Berrettini leading into this year’s French Open. This despite some really strong pre-event form. The Italian reached the final in Madrid and claimed the Serbia Open title.
I would have made Federer a strong favourite against Berrettini had he decided to treat this event with the seriousness it deserves. The Italian is the big winner this week but let’s spare a thought for Federer’s vanquished 3rd round foe Dominik Koepfer.
Imagine Federer has decided to pull his Houdini act on match-point up against him? The German would have a huge payday and ranking points that could make a real difference in his career.
But I digress. 2019 US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini is an ultra-aggressive player who will look to dictate points against the Serb. He will take solace from the performance of his fellow countryman Musetti. Now is not the time for uncertainty and I fully expect Berrettini to come out swinging.
Djokovic to win in 4 at 5/2
These two have only met once before, with Djokovic demolishing the Italian in the 2019 ATP Finals. I think it’s actually Djokovic who will have gained the most from that near exit at the hands of Musetti. He was slightly passive in that match and I expect him to be slightly more aggressive this time out. He will need to call on all those legendary defensive abilities against the powerful Italian. Djokovic to win in four at 5/2.