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With France government officials lifting some restrictions, 5,000 spectators are allowed into Court Philippe Chatrier. That means, for the first time at a Roland Garros night session, fans will be able to root and cheer when Novak Djokovic plays Matteo Berrettini on Wednesday night.
After fan-less evening sessions that have featured the biggest names in tennis – Djokovic, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek and Roger Federer – this will be the only night with an animated crowd because it also happens to be the last one of the fortnight as daytime-only scheduling starts with Thursday’s women’s semi-finals.
The last night match of the major was always going to be a men’s quarter-final because the men’s semi-finals are scheduled for Friday.
For the slightly earlier start time of 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), from the top half of the men’s draw, tournament organizers selected the Djokovic vs. Berrettini quarter-final as opposed to Nadal vs. Diego Schwartzman. The schedule gives Nadal the advantage because, if he wins, he gets to finish earlier on Wednesday and then play again in the same conditions on Friday. Djokovic, if he wins, will have to readjust to the day session on Friday. The bottom semi-final is already set with Stefanos Tsitsipas facing Alexander Zverev on Thursday.
Scheduling at Grand Slams is always a hot topic of debate. At least it’s a somewhat similar situation with the women: Wednesday’s quarter-final winners have to play again on Thursday while the winners from Tuesday’s quarter-finals (Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Tamara Zidansek) will have had a day off. They’ll need it as both survived marathons with Pavlyuchenkova winning 6-7 (2), 6-2, 9-7 over Elena Rybakina and Zidansek outlasting Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6. At least it’s fair for both Pavlyuchenkova and Zidansek in terms of preparations for their semi-final.
- INSIGHTS gives Swiatek the greatest odds of winning the tournament at 26% with unseeded Barbora Krejcikova next in line at 17%.
Here’s a closer look at Wednesday’s matches:
No. 24 Coco Gauff vs unseeded No. 33 Barbora Krejcikova
Gauff and Krejcikova won their fourth rounds convincingly: The 17-year-old American defeated Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-1 and the 25-year-old Czech crushed Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-0.
In Wednesday’s opening match on Court Philippe Chatrier, Gauff will be taking on Krejcikova in their first meeting. Gauff has seemed destined for greatness since reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon at age 15 in 2019, while Krejcikova was pigeon-holed as a doubles expert until she began to blossom in singles when the tour restarted last August. After finishing 2020 at No. 135, Krejcikova is expected to rise inside of the Top 30 for the first time. That doesn’t mean her doubles has suffered, as the No. 2 seeds, she and her usual partner Katerina Siniakova are in the semi-finals.
Approximately 30 minutes before her match against Stephens on Monday, Krejcikova was so uptight she broke down and cried. She was playing in just her fifth Grand Slam singles event compared to 20 in doubles, and was able to settle down with help from her psychologist.
“I think I was just more stressed that I’m just not going to be good enough,” she said. “I think that’s what happened.”
Once she got into the match, it didn’t take long for her to realize she belonged, eventually outplaying an ineffectual Stephens in just 67 minutes. Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, reached the Roland Garros final in 2018.
Gauff was even speedier against Jabeur, closing out the match in 53 minutes. Her level has gone up a notch in recent weeks, as she picked up the Parma singles and doubles crown heading into Paris. Most noticeably, the teen has more control of her second serve, cutting down on double faults.
“The problem was my confidence,” she said. “I would play in practice, make 50 second serves in a row, and then I get to the match and get nervous. Now I don’t feel as nervous when I’m serving. I focus on the three main things, and then it just happens.”
Heading into her first Grand Slam quarter-final, Gauff was candid about the way she used to approach high-pressure situations. “I feel like I came into the matches I guess not as hungry,” she said. “I know it’s probably not a good thing to say but it’s the truth.”
Her revitalized hunger will be put to the test against the remarkably transformed singles player that Krejcikova has become.
- INSIGHTS gives Krejcikova a respectable edge in this quarter-final with a 58% chance of beating Gauff. At 12.96, the Czech’s UTR Rating is just slightly higher than Gauff’s 12.81.
No. 8 Iga Swiatek vs No. 17 Maria Sakkari
Swiatek’s reputation as a force of nature at Roland Garros grows greater by the day in both singles and in doubles. After a marathon three-hour win (while saving seven match points) with Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Sunday, the 20-year-old Pole could have been a little weary for her fourth-round singles Monday against big-hitting, No. 81-ranked Marta Kostyuk. But the defending champion rebounded, winning her 11th match in a row in Paris with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the 19-year-old Ukrainian.
“I’m going to play till the end, and physically I feel so good,” Swiatek said about her commitment to doubles, one that continued on Tuesday as she and Mattek Sands advanced to the semi-finals.
Sakkari, whose quarter-final is her best result in 21 Grand Slam appearances, spoke fondly about Swiatek. “We practiced here before the tournament, and Iga is a lovely girl,” she said. “She’s an unbelievable player. She’s only 20 years old and she has already won a Slam.”
Swiatek reciprocated regarding the 25-year-old Greek, sayng, “I’ve played many practices with her, and she’s really cool girl. Our teams like each other. It’s never easy to play with one of the nicest girls on tour. But tactically I’m going to for sure be prepared.”
The friends will be facing each other for the first time on tour.
From being one of the most congenial players away from the court, Swiatek is able to switch into a fearsome competitor on it as soon as the umpire says “ready, play.” Evidence of that are the 22 consecutive sets she has won since beginning her title run at Roland Garros last September.
- Per INSIGHTS, Swiatek is the heavy favorite in this bout with a 63% chance of reaching the semi-finals. At 29% overall odds, the teeanger is also the favorite to win her second Roland Garros title.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs No. 9 Matteo Berrettini
Paris seems like an eternal quest for world No. 1 Djokovic as he attempts to win a second title at Roland Garros. He got his first and only one in 2016 and has been in four other finals, losing three to Nadal and one to Stan Wawrinka in 2015.
As almost routine as it has become for him to win the Australian Open (nine times) and Wimbledon (five times) it’s always a struggle for the Serbian in Paris.
In Wednesday’s night match, playing in his 17th Roland Garros, the 34-year-old faces Berrettini as he looks to set up another fateful encounter with Nadal in the semi-finals (assuming the Spaniard can dispatch Schwartzman in the earlier quarter-final).
Djokovic beat Berrettini 6-2, 6-1 in their only previous meeting on hard courts at the 2019 ATP Finals in London. The No. 9-ranked Berrettini has been in fine form this spring, going 10-3 on clay, finishing runner-up to Zverev at the ATP 1000 in Madrid and winning the first ATP 250 event in Belgrade. The winner of the second ATP 250 in Belgrade, held the week before Roland Garros, was hometown hero Djokovic.
A possible factor in Wednesday’s match is that Berrettini received a walkover from Federer in the round of 16, giving him three days off without a match. The Italian practiced extra on Monday to replicate the scenario of actually competing, but it’s not the same as the court time Djokovic picked up from a lopsided 6-7 (7), 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-0, 4-0 win over Lorenzo Musetti.
- INSIGHTS expects Djokovic to move into the semi-finals with a 71% chance of winning compared to Berrettini’s 29%. The World No. 1 has the edge over the Italian in every category including clay UTR Rating, three-month UTR Rating and record over common opponents.
No. 3 Rafael Nadal vs No. 10 Diego Schwartzman
There are endless numbers of trivia questions related to 13-time champion Nadal and Roland Garros, including the one with the answer 104-2, his match record in 17 appearances. But here’s one that few people know the answer to: Nadal didn’t play in Paris as a junior so 2005 was his first presence at Roland Garros. The very first time he ever had a hit on the terre battue was on Court Philippe Chatrier with Carlos Moya, who was ranked No. 15 at the time and would later become Nadal’s coach.
Nadal’s Wednesday quarter-final against Schwartzman is close to a foregone conclusion. The 35-year-old Spaniard is 10-1 against the 5’7” Argentine. His only loss being a 6-2, 7-5 upset in the Rome quarter-finals last September, one that he rectified two weeks later at Roland Garros by beating Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(0) in the semi-finals. In their first nine matches over seven years before Rome last year, Nadal had won 22 of 24 sets played.
In his post-match, English press conference, no one even asked Nadal about his next match against the 28-year-old Schwartzman. His most engaging reply was to a question about always having his birthday (June 3) take place during Roland Garros.
“The most difficult part is because every time is one more year,” Nadal said. “So [it’s going to arrive one day that we
- INSIGHTS predicts Nadal will enjoy his quarter-final very much with a whopping 86% chance of the World No. 3 advancing. Of all of Wednesday's matches, this clash is expected to be the most lopsided with Nadal’s UTR Rating a 16.02 to Schwartzman’s 15.32.