June 3, 2019
Alexander Zverev will play Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, after the German downed Fabio Fognini in four.
It is a repeat of their juicy clash at the year-end finals in London, surprisingly won by Zverev.
But Djokovic remains favourite. Especially after admitting that ‘everything is coming together beautifully’ in his clay-court game at just the right time.
Meanwhile Zverev professed gratitude to his young rival, Stefanos Tsitsipas for taking so much of the NextGen pressure off him of late.
Stef’s rising stardom has allowed “Sascha” to rediscover his best tennis too, without having to endure the spotlight alone.
Tsitsipas, you will recall, narrowly lost out in a five-hour thriller against Stan Wawrinka the other day at Roland Garros.
Makes you think, doesn’t it? What a wonderful place our beloved sport of tennis has reached!
The thrills and spills just keep coming. Roger Federer v Stan The Man was another delight.
Now we have Federer v Nadal to look forward to as well. How lucky are we?
We couldn’t have dared hope for both men to be playing so well at this late stage in their careers.
And yet here we are, positively salivating at the prospect of a fresh classic.
Nadal, the supreme clay-court master, ready to strut his stuff, unleash his power and leave us awe-struck once more.
Federer, determined to break his rival’s rhythm by rushing the net to finish points quickly.
Before that dream semi-final happens, we also have the other quarter-final to savour. Dominic Thiem, “tweener” trick-shot super-hero during his win over Gael Monfils, against the up-and-coming Karen Khachanov – conqueror of Juan Martin del Potro.
Tennis just keeps on giving.
And what about the women? As usual, this Grand Slam plot has been full of extraordinary twists and turns.
Two strands have run through their Roland Garros story so far, though. The irrepressible form of Simona Halep, who brushed aside all in her path.
And the wonderful run enjoyed by Jo Konta, who is enjoying a superb renaissance on clay.
Could Halep and Konta eventually meet to provide us with the match of the women’s tournament?
All will be revealed soon enough.
One thing’s for sure, though. After Andy Murray announced his return to competitive action, tennis could hardly be in a happier place.
Superstars young and old, classic clashes almost daily…How fortunate we are to have the chance to enjoy this golden time in tennis history, while we still can.
By Mark Ryan