2018 French Open: Four matches to watch on Friday

Thursday at the French Open saw a day with no rain interruptions (shocker!) and an exquisite contest between Serena Williams and Ashleigh Barty. With round two now complete and round three about to begin, here’s what to watch for on Day 6 at Roland Garros:

Madison Keys vs Naomi Osaka

If you love power tennis, then this match is for you. It’s doubtful you’ll see two more hard-hitting players go at it in Paris this year. The tendency for both at times is to play “baseball” (another way of saying they make a lot of unnecessary errors), but each has looked impressive at Roland Garros so far. Keys has won both of their prior meetings, including their epic 2016 match at the US Open when Osaka held a 5-1 third set lead and served for the match twice, only to be broken both times and lose in a third-set tiebreaker. The American is the better player on clay at this point in their careers, but this is a match that could go either way.

Petra Kvitova vs Anett Kontaveit

This may very well be the best match of the women’s tournament to date. Both struggled in their first-round match, both looked much better in straight set wins in their second-round match. Both have had excellent clay-court seasons. Both have tremendous power. As you can see, there are a lot of similarities here. Both prior meetings ave been won by Kvitova, but Kontaveit took the first set on both occasions. As I said in the preview article, it’s only a matter of time when the Estonian makes her huge breakthrough and it very well may come here.

Fernando Verdasco vs Grigor Dimitrov

Quite frankly, both players are lucky to be here. Yoshihito Nishioka served for the match in the first round against Verdasco while Jared Donaldson was two points from eliminating Dimitrov in the second round. The biggest shot on the court will be the Spaniard’s forehand and his serve is not far behind. They’ve split four meetings, including two on clay. Dimitrov will want to target the 30th seed’s backhand, his worst and the fourth seed’s best shot. Dimitrov was considered the most vulnerable of the top seeds on the men’s side and Verdasco could very well pull off an upset to make that statement a reality.

David Goffin vs Gael Monfils

This will be a match played squarely from the baseline. Goffin will look to be more offensive even though it’s likely Monfils has more weapons, but the Frenchman, as is his style, chooses to play defensively, standing miles behind the baseline. Neither man has a big serve to speak of, but the Belgian’s consistency could very well push him through this as he’ll look to take advantage of the 32nd seed’s passive style. They met in this same round at last year’s U.S. Open with Goffin winning by retirement. The eighth seed has the clear edge, but if Monfils can play more offensively, he’ll give himself a chance and, playing to his personality, get the crowd involved.

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