I SHOULD have known better. When it comes to tennis, anything goes. After going through the round of 16 pairings, I readily saw an Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal quarterfinal match in the bottom of the draw with the winner advancing against Dominic Thiem.
When I checked the schedule of matches after the fourth round, I was surprised to see a new name paired against Nadal—Jannik Sinner, an Italian teen who is making his French Open debut.
The 19-year-old fired 39 winners against Zverev to win in four sets and setting his own history after making the quarterfinal in his debut. The last guy to do it? The King of Clay, the guy he will face in the quarterfinals.
At least, I was half right, Nadal only dropped four games against Sebastian Korda to extend his record of not dropping a set. Korda, the son of former finalist Petr, said that at least he will get an autographed shirt out of the loss, telling a reporter that he didn’t think Rafa has been asked for an autographed shirt after the post-match handshake.
So it’s Sinner vs. Nadal in the quarterfinals and between the youngster and the King, I like the King’s chances better. But there’s a spoiler in the horizon. Zverev said he has had a fever and had difficulties breathing in his loss against Sinner. I hope that was just an excuse and it was Sinner’s skills, not Zverev’s illness that was the main factor in the upset.
In the upper half of the draw, Novak Djokovic had no difficulties making the quarterfinals in his chase for an 18th grand slam title and will meet Pablo Carreno Busta in the final eight. Djokovic’s only loss, if you can call it that, was a disqualification in the US Open a few weeks ago when a temper tantrum led to him hitting a linesman with a ball. And as promised, he has kept his tantrum in check.
I won’t make any predictions on who will win the quarterfinal matches but I do know who I want to meet in the finals—Djokovic and Nadal. If Roger Federer was in the event, I’d be rooting for the Swiss maestro of course, but he isn’t. Djokovic and Nadal on the red clay is going to be a treat for tennis fans in this bleak 2020.
So I hope, when I check the results on the morning of Oct. 7, I’ll see both their names advancing to the semifinal round.