Today’s men’s quarterfinal matches feature a battle between two big hitters and a battle between two unstoppable fighters. Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro will see who can more effectively obliterate tennis balls and Diego Schwartzman will use every ounce of energy and talent he has to halt the procession of Rafael Nadal to a record eleventh French Open title.
Marin Cilic (3) v. Juan Martin del Potro (5)
Cilic has the bigger serve, del Potro the bigger forehand. Both rely on blasting their opponents off the court. Del Potro’s progression through the draw has been impressive, as has his record so far in 2018. His performances in Indian Wells and Miami announced his full return to form. His play at Roland Garros so far has laid to rest any doubts about his fitness despite his recent retirement against David Goffin at the Rome Masters.
Cilic and del Potro have both played excellent tennis at the French Open, but del Potro’s straight sets dismissal of John Isner should serve notice to Cilic that del Potro is more than ready to handle big servers. Cilic is also coming into the quarterfinal after a pulsating five set match against mercurial talent, Fabio Fognini. In addition to being a highly physical match, the up and down match was an emotional roller coaster.
Expect del Potro’s more straight forward path through the draw and bigger groundstrokes to carry him to victory in three, possibly four sets.
Rafael Nadal (1) v. Diego Schwartzman (11)
Diego Schwartzman may be the only professional tennis player as tenacious as Rafael Nadal. The diminutive Argentine fights for every point and never gives up hope. In his fourth round match against Kevin Anderson, who aside from being a foot-and-a-half taller than Schwartzman has one of the best serves in tennis, he came back from two sets to love and won a tiebreak 7-0.
Schwartzman’s spirit and endurance will be tested against Nadal. Schwartzman will make Nadal work for every point, but the Spaniard who has practically made a second home for himself on Court Philippe-Catrier, will likely prevail without too much difficulty. He may go down a break here or there. He may even lose a set (unlikely), but the result of this match will never be in doubt. Everything Schawartzman can do, Nadal can do better and for longer.
Expect Schwartzman to stay mentally and physically committed in the match until the last ball is struck. Also expect him to add as much variety to his game as possible in an attempt to unsettle Nadal. Finally, expect Nadal to win in straight sets.