After an accurate Sunday for our panelists Steen Kirby, Niall Clarke and Stefano Berlincioni in which Steen went 4-0 and Niall and Stefano both went 3-1, they are back to preview and predict the 5 most anticipated Roland Garros Men’s Day 2 matches.
Panelists Predictions for Roland Garros 2015 Men’s Day 2 Matches
(12)Gilles Simon vs. (WC)Lucas Pouille
Steen: Pouille, a rising French young gun has once again received a wild card for his home slam, and this time, after improving his game, and getting a beatable opponent in the first round, he’ll have a chance to make good on that wild card and please the home fans. After languishing at the challenger tour for a bit, and not blossoming compared to some of the young guns such as Dominic Thiem, and Nick Kyrgios, Pouille reached his first ATP semifinal in Auckland this year, and also pushed Gael Monfils to five sets in Melbourne. This spring he defeated Thiem in Monte Carlo, and I’d consider him to be a player who plays well with home cooking, blessed with a lethal forehand, but cursed with poor shot selection, Pouille is quite the riddle and it’s getting close to make or break time for his career.
Simon has looked shaky on clay this year, and he injured his back in Nice, hindering his warm ups and preparation for the tournament. Simon might be boring, but he’s effective against most opponents with his pushing style of play, and it serves him well on clay generally, that said, long grinding matches against a young gun who could be inspired are not good for a player with a painful injury, and there were some reports Simon was having trouble serving with the injury. With that in mind, I see Pouille seizing his moment and pouncing on a hobbled Simon to win. Simon famously did well at the Australian Open while openly injured one year, but I don’t see that happening again. Pouille in 5 sets
One of the most consistent players on tour, Simon’s ability to keep the ball in play without making many errors has frustrated many opponents. However, with the injury issues that saw him exit Nice early, is the Frenchman ready physically?
Lucas Pouille put on an impressive showing against Gael Monfils at the Australian Open, and has moved to a career high ranking of 90 since.
I have a feeling this one might go the distance. A lot depends on Simons’ condition, but I feel if he is ok to play his experience will see him through
Simon in 5 sets
Simon’s fitness is questionable after his retirement in Rome and the pull out from Nice. I watched him for a few seconds training with Robredo on Friday and he didn’t look that bad. Five sets can be very long for a player carrying an injury so I think he will do his best to win as quick as possible. Pouille is an impressive young gun with a powerful forehand but even considering the injury I go with Simon in 3 sets.
(27)Bernard Tomic vs. (Q)Luca Vanni
If you like junkballers, this is the matchup for you, as both Tomic and Vanni do it well. Tomic has been miserable on clay this year after a motivated, and shockingly consistent spring hard court season, and he seems far removed from how well he played from January until March. Credit to him for rebuilding his ranking, and his career, as the still young Aussie got himself seeded for RG, and has also stepped up at events like the Davis Cup, he also has more slam experience than the late bloomer Vanni, but clay is not his surface, and this isn’t a good matchup for him as both players will slice, dice, drop shot and volley to get the win, and expect the rallies to lack pace, as Tomic only generates power when he needs to, and Vanni lacks power except on serve.
The Italian veteran reached the final in Sao Paulo on clay this year, his first, and he’s had an incredible season, coming out of nowhere to post big results at the ATP level, including the win over Tomic in Madrid, he was solid in qualifying, and while Tomic should be ready to get to grass, Vanni is in an inspired mood and form, and that’s why I have him outlasting Tomic again, as Bernie may well mentally check out if he faces a challenge after such a poor clay season. Vanni in 4 sets
Bernard Tomic has had quite a consistent season by his standards, making some solid runs in tour events. However, the Aussie’s form has somewhat declined since we hit the clay season.
Luca Vanni impressed in Madrid when he beat Tomic in three sets and made the second round. The Italian is playing the best tennis of his career at the moment, reaching a career high of 100 earlier this month. Vanni beat Tomic over three sets in their last meeting, but I feel the Aussie’s grand slam experience may come to the fray here. It will possibly go the distance, but this time Tomic edges it.
Tomic in 5 sets
I watched all of Vanni’s matches in qualifying and he played good tennis, helped by his big serve on key points. He already beat Tomic in Madrid but I think on best of 5 sets things will be different. I would like to see the legend Vanni in second round but I think Tomic will try his best in a Slam. Tomic in 5 sets
Martin Klizan vs. (WC)Francis Tiafoe
Klizan is blessed with much natural tennis talent, and his power baselining game can be brutal when it’s at its best, as we saw from him against Nadal in Beijing last year, where he pulled off the upset, and also against Djokovic for about a set at Indian Wells this year, that said his consistency is lacking, and though he has the game to beat top 10 players, he’s not even seeded for slams, and at one point he dropped back down to the challenger tour.
Tiafoe is perhaps the next great hope for American men’s tennis, he was raised on a tennis court and comes from a very humble background as the sun of immigrant parents from Sierra Leone, but he also has plenty of swagger and confidence on the court, and that’s why entertainment icon Jay-Z has signed on to be his sports agent. Francis made the decision to turn pro in April, and promptly went on a tear in USTA pro circuit events, though he has very limited experience at the ATP level, and will be making his slam debut.
Long term, Tiafoe should be the better player, and have a better career, but I don’t feel it is his time yet, and thus Klizan in 3 sets is the safe and reasonable pick, though Tiafoe should compete well and put up a good showing.
Martin Klizan is one of the streakiest and erratic players on tour. He can play either great or terrible, which can often lead to some amazing wins/runs but also some poor results.
Tiafoe is one of the more promising youngsters on the tour, but is hugely inexperienced at this level. At 17 years old and only two main tour matches to name, he is still unknown to a lot of fans. Klizan has suffered from injuries recently, which halted his momentum after a good start to the clay season. Despite that he should be too much for Tiafoe at this stage
Klizan in 3 sets
After the good semifinal in Barcelona, the Masters 1000 have terrible for Klizan so his form has to be considered questionable right now. Tiafoe had in impressive run at US challengers on har-tru clay but surely didn’t meet anyone with Klizan’s firepower. A match between players that tend to go on walkabouts during their matches so maybe we will not see a straight set result. Klizan in 4 sets
Borna Coric vs. Sam Querrey
When I looked at the odds for this match I was shocked to find Querrey as the favorite, as his only advantage over Coric is experience, and this is clay, the worst surface for Qball, and a good surface for the rising young gun Coric. Fatigue could play a factor of course, as Coric comes off a run to the sems in Nice, but Coric has had a better clay court season (a semi, and a quarterfinal) than Querrey has (just the fina in Houston), and he also has had higher peaks this season, as he beat Murray and reached the semis in Dubai. Querrey has been pedestrian at best this year, and the result of this match will be on Coric’s racquet no matter. Coric in 3 sets
Borna Coric has established himself as a future player on the ATP tour. His consistent baseline play is slowly seeing the young Croatian making a move up the ATP rankings. Sam Querrey possesses a fairly big serve, and power behind his ground strokes. The American is not known for any great variety, but his play style has been effective enough to reach the top 20 in the past.
Right now Coric seems to be the better bet for this match as he is in slightly better form. Querrey is not playing the tennis that saw him to 17 in the world, so Coric may sneak this through consistency. Coric in 4 sets.
Querrey is much more experienced at Slam level but clay clearly isn’t his best surface. The kids have to come sooner or later and I think Roland Garros will be a good stage for Coric to show his talent. Coric in 4 sets.
(11)Feliciano Lopez vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili
Besides the Simon match, this match presents the best chance for a top 15 seed to lose in the first round as Lopez, who isn’t good on clay in the first place, has been atrocious on clay this year, and is struggling mightily with his confidence. Flopez, with his serve and volley, slice centric game is excellent on fast surfaces, but unlike most Spanish players, very poor on slow ones, and RG is playing slow this year, as it usually does.
Gabashvili is an interesting player, the Russian veteran is a great ballstriker, but he’s never been able to become a serious contender, and his consistency has been lacking his entire career. That said he’s on a hot streak and is 14-2 in his last three tournaments, and with that in mind, I’m going with him to pull off a big upset in a battle, Gabashvili has beaten John Isner this year, and previously he beat Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne. Gabashvili in 5 sets
Feliciano Lopez has somehow managed to play better as he has gotten older, and at present is a top 15 mainstay. Possessing a big serve, and an interesting slice backhand he is a tough player to face, but his game is more suited to grass.
Gabashvili has made a career best of round four at the French Open five years a go so he knows how to play well at Roland Garros. Lopez is not his strongest on clay so this one could go four or five sets, but with Lopez just being the better overall player it is hard not to back him.
Lopez in 4 sets
Gabashvili has been very consistent during recent Asian Challengers but a top 20 opponent is a whole different ballgame. H2H says 2-0 Lopez but those matches were years ago, and on hard court, so not that relevant. Lopez doesn’t look to be in form of his life, but his talent should be enough to prevail over Gabashvili. Lopez in 4 sets
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