It’s Day 7 at Roland Garros and we will look to see if anyone can come anywhere close to the entertainment value of Gael Monfils after one of the more thrilling five set matches in recent history. Monfils rallied from down 4-1 in the 4th set to go on to beat Pablo Cuevas in five sets. On tap for Saturday, there are three matches The Pig thinks could provide some semblance of entertainment. As always, told through the 3 Little Pigs story.
Straw House: Marin Cilic
A seeded match-up with #9 Marin Cilic battling #23 Leonardo Mayer. Cilic has been the beneficiary of a soft draw with easy wins over Haase & Arnaboldi. Mayer definitely had the bigger challenge by defeating Jiri Vesely and Jerzy Janowicz in four sets each. This figures to be a high quality serving match as both have pumped out 24 aces through two rounds. Cilic has yet to be broken this week. These two met five years ago in this exact same spot with Cilic coming out on top in five sets. Mayer had 23 aces that day to Cilic’s 12, but it was Cilic who did a bit better on converting break chances with five to Mayer’s three. There is no doubt that Cilic’s form coming into Roland Garros was not great. Beating up on players he should beat is one thing, but this will be his first true test. Mayer Mayer played well last week in Nice and can gain his best French Open in his career with a win in this one. Cilic will look to equal his best showing as he has made the 4th round twice previously, but not since 2010. He has been blocked in the 3rd round his last three trips to Paris and I think this could be #4. Mayer has the serve to match Cilic, it will be on him though to get into Cilic’s serve and make the Croat have to work into a baseline battle.
Sticks House: David Goffin
The home crowd is sure to be on the side of Jeremy Chardy for this one. Chardy knocked off John Isner to reach the 3rd round. The Frenchman picked apart an off serving day from Isner who only won 66% off his 1st serve and was uncharacteristically broken five times off of ten break chances. Goffin meanwhile had to rally against Santiago Giraldo after being even at a set a piece and down a break, Goffin steadied the ship and won out 7-5, 6-2 in the 3rd & 4th sets to advance. This marks the first time that these two have met and both have made it to the 4th round in Paris before. Goffin did it back in 2010 & Chardy in 2008. Chardy is still very much an unknown factor from match to match as his consistency remains hard to pinpoint from round to round. Goffin is a tad more consistent, yet his serve is often weak enough to leave his opponent openings in a match. I think it’s a bigger deal for Chardy to get ahead in this match as I think his game is better suited to front running whereas Goffin’s work rate and court coverage would give him a better ability I believe to dig out of a hole. This has the makings of a long match with some good ebb and flow to it. While support will be there for Chardy, I think Goffin moves through but this could go the distance.
Brick House: Jack Sock
A fascinating match-up in this one of two up & comers who few expected to be in this position. Borna Coric scored maybe the most distinguished win of his career in the 3rd round, with all due respect to his win last year over a physically compromised Rafael Nadal. Coric was able to fend off Tommy Robredo in a five set thriller after blowing a two sets to one lead. He showed tremendous mental strength by fending off four break points in his opening service game of the final set and then after being broken to see Robredo go up 4-3, the Croat responded by converting the third break point off Robredo in the next service game to pull back even. He would take the 2nd match point he saw off Robredo’s final service game to break for a 7-5, 36-, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win. Sock didn’t require such theatrics to move past Pablo Carreno-Busta in the 2nd round. The two traded tie break winning sets to open before Sock rolled to a 6-1 third set win and then closed 7-5 in the 4th. Sock’s serve was troublesome though as he double faulted 13 times and offered up 15 break chances. The best news for Sock was saving 12 of those chances. Still, it is a little concerning heading into this match-up.
Both are in unexpected positions with neither conceivably expecting a 4th round showing here. The feeling for me here is it will be hard for Coric to muster up the same level of adrenaline he had pumping in that five set match against Robredo. That was a massive win, but it also came with a price of logging three and a half hours on the court and also having to save numerous break chances (13/19). While Sock had some of those same issues, I think his serve is steadier and his forehand is the major weapon in this match. Coric will need to come out fast in this one, but I have a feeling his energy could be a bit flat and Sock may jump on that and not look back.