It’s Day Six on tap at Roland Garros and there are two Frenchmen among those The Pig deems worth watching on Friday. While Gael Monfils could find himself a spot in the 4th round, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will need to amp up his game against a battle-tested Pablo Andujar. As always, it’s three matches to monitor told through the 3 Little Pigs narrative.
Straw House: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
As the last match scheduled Friday on Philippe-Chatrier Court, the mortal lock probably is that this will be the next match suspended due to darkness. As for the action on the court, Pablo Andujar should be flying high into this one after pulling off an improbable win in the 5th set yesterday against Phillip Kohlschreiber. Their match was suspended due to darkness on Wednesday with Kohlschreiber up 4-2 in the 5th. All Andujar did was break the German twice as he reeled off four straight games to take the match after he himself blew a two sets to nothing lead. As for Tsonga, he’s had nothing close to that drama, easing his way through the first two rounds without dropping a set. This will be just the 2nd meeting all-time between the two with Tsonga winning at the Shanghai Masters on a hard surface back in 2013. As for clay this year, both have been in somewhat middling form with Tsonga 5-4 before this week. Andujar was 8-5, but five of those wins came during his surprise run to the Barcelona final. Aindujar has already achieved his best ever French Open result by reaching this round, while Tsonga is seeking to make at least the 4th round for the 6th time in his career. This will be a marked step up in competition for Tsonga who rolled over qualifier Christian Lindell and Dudi Sela, while Andujar seems much more match tested with a win over Ramos and the five set thriller over Kohlschreiber. Tsonga is sure to have the crowd on his side, but Andujar will pose a difficult task. He already has shown he’s fit to go through an extended match, while I’m not totally sold that Tsonga is match fit enough to see through a four or five set grinder.
Sticks House: Lukas Rosol
Raise your hand if you had these two meeting in this spot and then find a fire extinguisher because your pants are on fire. Rosol is here after crushing 19th seeded Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the 2nd round. Rosol has been stout with his serving through two rounds with his 1st serve winning 84% of the points so far. Gabashvili meanwhile followed up his upset of 11th seeded Felciano Lopez in the opening round with an equally impressive straight sets whipping of Juan Monaco in the 2nd; 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. His serve has been reliable, but it’s been his ability to fend off break points that has him in this spot. He is a perfect 13/13 in saving break points so far this tournament. This marks the 7th time these two will have met, but first since 2012. Five of the clashes came on clay with Gabashvili ahead there 3-2. It’s a massive opportunity for both guys in this spot. Gabashvili has made the 4th round once before at the French Open back in 2010. Rosol made it as far as the 3rd round once before in 2011. Gabashvili’s decision to drop down to the Challenger level for the first couple of weeks in May appears to be paying dividends as he won a pair of titles and his confidence seems very high with 12 wins in his last 13 matches. That lone loss came to Federico Delbonis in the opening round in Geneva when fatigue may have caught the Russian after two successive title runs. I expect this one will be one of the more competitive matches of the day with both players fully capable of securing the birth in the 4th round. I think it comes down to aggression and some risk taking and that seems to be a bit more of Rosol’s forte
Brick House: Gael Monfils
On paper, this could potentially be a blockbuster 3rd round match with 13rd seed Gael Monfils facing the 21st seed Pablo Cuevas. Monfils needed all the French magic he could conjure to escape a tough five set affair in the 2nd round against Diego Schwartzman. Monfils won 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. I don’t expect that match to have taken too much from Monfils as it wasn’t as grueling a match as most five setters are with it lasting under three hours. You could make the case that Cuevas might be worse for the wear after his four set war with Dominic Thiem in the 2nd round. Cuevas prevailed 7-6, 7-5, 6-7, 7-5 in three hours and 51 minutes. Cuevas danced with danger all-match with 22 break chances given, yet he saved 20 of them. That’s not the way Cuevas will want this match to go as Monfils is likely to cash in on more of those chances than not. Despite Cuevas’ clay prowess, this is his first foray into the 3rd round, while Monfils has made it as far as the semifinals before here at Roland Garros. Look for Monfils to be buoyed by the close call in the last round and his superior serve in this one. Cuevas can be tough, but this is one of those special places where Monfils will give max effort and Cuevas may tire after the strain of his last match where he fought for every single point.