PARIS – The first slate of men's and women's quarterfinal matches begin on Tuesday in Paris, highlighted by an all-Swiss matchup between Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka and a matchup between No. 7 Ana Ivanovic and No. 19 Elina Svitolina. Play begins at 8 a.m. ET on Tennis Channel, with coverage moving to ESPN2 at 1 p.m. Full television and broadcast schedule can be found here. Full order of play can be found here.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's upset of No. 4 Tomas Berdych aside, the men's quarterfinals are just as the draw projected them to be. It's an all-Swiss rematch between No. 2 Roger Federer and No. 8 Stan Wawrinka, while No. 5 Kei Nishikori looks to hit another career-milestone against No. 14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Federer vs. Wawrinka (second match, Lenglen)
It's the 19th meeting between the two, with Federer leading the head-to-head 16–2. On the eyeball test it's hard to say which man is playing better in Paris. Federer will play for his third consecutive day on Tuesday after needing two days to beat Gael Monfils in the fourth round. After their match on Sunday was called for light, Federer came out on Monday and took two sets to seal the match. Federer has not needed to grind too much through his first four matches, but there's always a concern about how he'll recover in back-to-back match days.
"At this stage it's about progressing in the tournament," Federer said. "I love to play my best plus progressing, but I prefer moving on rather than playing my absolute best. I hope there is always an extra gear somewhere. Important right now is I'm still physically fresh for the back end of the tournament, and, I'm pumped up to the to be in the quarters again. Last year I missed it by a hair losing in the fifth, so it's nice to be back in the quarters now."
Federer's dominant record over Wawrinka is, of course, deceptive. The Wawrinka that exists now is not the Wawrinka of years ago. The younger Swiss has beaten Federer before on clay, last year in the Monte Carlo final. The two played just three weeks ago and Federer won easily in straight sets.
"It's always special to play each other," Federer said. "I'm quite positive about it. So there will be a Swiss guy in the semifinal. That's positive. I hope I will reach the semifinal of a tournament. I will pull out all the stops to advance to the next round. If I will not make it, I will be very happy for Stan."
Nishikori vs. Tsonga (second match, Chatrier)
No Japanese man has made the semifinals of the French Open in the Open Era. Nishikori looks ready to change that. He has yet to drop a set through four matches and holds a 4–1 record against Tsonga. The Frenchman has played inspired tennis throughout the tournament, losing just one set to No. 4 Tomas Berdych in the last round. But he hasn't played anyone with Nishikori's court coverage. This will be their first meeting on clay.
"He had very good results on clay," Tsonga said. "He won tournaments what I didn't. I didn't [win a tournament on clay] during my career. Not even one time. So I think he's a good player on clay. He's able to play on every surface because of his game, which is complete."
Who can take advantage of the bottom half of the draw now that defending Maria Sharapova has vacated Paris? No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, the champion here in 2008, is the highest seed left in the bottom half, joined by No. 13 Lucie Safarova, No. 19 Elina Svitolina and No. 21 Garbine Muguruza. This is already a career-best result for Safarova and Svitolina, while Muguruza is looking to go one round better than her surprise quarterfinal appearance last year.
Ivanovic vs. Svitolina (first match, Chatrier)
No one had their eye on Ivanovic in Paris. She has struggled mightily since January and looked shaky early in the tournament, needing three sets to beat Yaroslava Shvedova and Misaki Doi. Coming into the tournament, she had yet to return to the quarterfinal round here in Paris since her triumphant 2008 campaign. But something clicked after she came back from the brink to defeat Doi 3–6, 6–3, 6–4 in the second round. She's played solid tennis since, losing just three games to Donna Vekic and then defeating No. 9 Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round.
But what happens now that she becomes, by ranking, the favorite to make the final? Ivanovic has always been sensitive to pressure. Her team famously hid all the newspapers to shield her from the fact that she would earn the No. 1 ranking if she made the final in 2008. She said last week that she didn't know what to expect of herself here in Paris after a disappointing lead-up.
Ivanovic is 6-0 against Svitolina, a 20-year-old talent from Ukraine. In fact, she's lost just one set to her in those six matches. In their two clay matches, Ivanovic has won in straight sets, including a few weeks ago at the Madrid Open. That said, Svitolina has the quality to pull off the upset. She's battle tested after back-to-back three-set matches. She held off Alize Cornet's comeback attempt in the last round, winning in straights. On some level you have to wonder how much is left in her tank. Can she hold her nerve and play a quality match? Svitolina is a good all-around player, a former junior champion here in Paris and her grinding style could put the pressure on Ivanovic.
Muguruza vs. Safarova (first match, Lenglen)
When Muguruza made her first Slam quarterfinal here last year you couldn't wipe the dimpled smile off her face. It was as if she was happy with her result and it wasn't until she came so close to beating Sharapova in the quarterfinals, losing in three sets, that the disappointment of a lost opportunity set in. This time, after beating Flavia Pennetta in straight sets on Monday, she was vocal about wanting more than just another quarterfinal appearance.
"I remember yesterday that last year I was in quarterfinals," Muguruza said. "Come on, this year you have to do it better. You have again the opportunity. I just learned from the last year that I was like really excited and [everything was new]. This year I'm trying to concentrate more and use this chance more than last year."
This will be the first meeting between Muguruza and Safarova, the woman who knocked out Sharapova on Monday. Both women are powerful players and Muguruza will have to adjust to the angles Safarova can hit with her left-handed swing. For Safarova, she's looking to make her second Slam semifinal in a year after doing so last summer at Wimbledon.