French Open Day 10 matches to watch: Quarterfinals kick off with star power
Here are the storylines and matches to watch on Day 10 of the French Open. Play begins at 8 a.m. ET. Click here for the order of play.
Roger Federer vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (second match, Court Philippe Chatrier): In a tournament in which the French men have repeatedly grabbed the headlines, Tsonga has kept his hard hat on and head low. The No. 1 Frenchman has won four consecutive matches in straight sets and faced only one seed, No. 25 Jeremy Chardy, whom he routed in the third round. Well-rested and playing solid tennis, Tsonga looks primed to challenge Federer, who is coming off a five-set win over Gilles Simon. That match, which lasted a shade under three hours -- only Federer could play a five-setter on clay that short -- shouldn't affect the Swiss physically.
Tsonga knows he can beat Federer at a Slam. That belief is the first hurdle at which which most other challengers fall. He famously came back from two sets down to edge Federer 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals. He also pushed the 17-time major champion in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January, with Federer prevailing 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3. Tsonga has never made it past the quarterfinals at his home Slam, but he's been a steadier player under new coach Roger Rasheed. Federer is still the favorite, but an upset by Tsonga would not surprise me.
One thing's for sure: The match will probably be more intense than their recent exhibition in Colombia.
Serena Williams vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (first match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): The quality and intrigue of this match is entirely dependent on Kuznetsova. At her best, she looks like a top-five player with the power, touch and athleticism to beat anyone, including Williams. At her worst, she looks like someone who's convinced you're supposed to hit the ball outside of the lines and get extra points for shanks into the crowd.
In 2009, Kuznetsova beat Williams 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5 on this very court, in this very round, en route to the title. Though Kuznetsova has won only two of eight meetings (the two haven't played since the 2009 WTA Championships), the matches have almost always been close, with three of the last four going to three sets. If Sveta shows up, this could be a fantastic match of shot-making. If not, it'll be another quick win for Williams. She's just playing too well right now.
Here are some highlights from their 2009 Roland Garros quarterfinal.
David Ferrer vs. Tommy Robredo (second match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): Memo to Robredo: Matches are a lot easier to win if you don't fall behind by two sets. The 31-year-old tournament surprise reached his fifth French Open quarterfinal by becoming the first player since 1927 to win three consecutive Grand Slam matches from two sets down, rallying past Igor Sijsling, Gael Monfils and Nicolas Almagro. At some point, you have to believe Robredo's legs can't take anymore of this, and Ferrer, also 31, is one of the last guys you want to face with heavy legs. Ferrer, who hasn't lost a set yet, leads the head-to-head 6-2, though this is their first meeting in a Slam.
Here are highlights from their last match on clay, the semifinals a the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires in February. Ferrer won 6-3, 6-2.
Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Sara Errani (first match, Court Philippe Chatrier): What does Radwanska remember about their last match, a 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4 victory for the Pole at the WTA Championships in Istanbul last October? “Well, what I remember after that match is I couldn’t walk the next day!” Radwanska said after beating Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round. “Yeah, that match cost me a lot of energy and power. So I really have to prepare for a lot of rallies, a lot of running, and for a good match."
Radwanska is 6-1 against Errani, the only loss coming in 2006. Despite a horrible clay-court season, Radwanska hasn't lost a set at the French Open and is into the quarterfinals for the first time. A win over Errani, a finalist last year, would be huge for her confidence on clay, a surface on which she should (yet hasn't) excelled.
Who knows? Maybe we'll something special like this hot shot Radwanska hit in Istanbul: