2008 French Open – Nick’s Pick – Men’s Singles 2nd Round
Nick’s Picks will have complete coverage of the 2008 French Open, and will be coming to you live from Paris for part of the event!! Also, Nick is teaming with Tennis Week to provide in-depth analysis of the French Open throughout the tournament! Check out Nick’s Picks for the entire men’s and women’s draws!
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) vs. Mardy Fish (USA)
Coming into the tournament there was a big question whether Hewitt would even play because of a hip injury. Well, not only did he play, but he played well in his win over Nicolas Mahut in the first round. He has always done pretty well here, reaching the quarters twice and the Round of 16 four other times (including the last two years).
Fish picked up another big win for America on Wednesday, with a four-set comeback victory over clay-court Agustin Calleri. Fish has already surprised everyone this year with his run to the finals at Indian Wells (beating Davydenko, Hewitt, Nalbandian, and Federer), so don’t be shocked to see him make some noise again.
Hewitt and Fish are 1-1 against each other, but neither of those matches were played on clay. Fish has an excellent forehand and one of the best two-handed backhands on Tour. He is brimming with confidence and looks to be in good shape. On the other hand, the last six months have been hard for Hewitt. Anytime you have a back or a hip injury it affects your entire body and your core. This is especially difficult for the Australian, because he relies so much on his stamina and conditioning to win him matches. I believe that, combined with Fish’s confidence give the American the edge. I’m going with the “upset” here!
Nick’s Pick – Fish in 4 sets
David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Fabrice Santoro (FRA)
Despite being seeded fifth and also being an outstanding clay-court player, David Ferrer may be floating under the radar a bit. He easily moved on to the second round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Steve Darcis of Belgium.
There is no one on the ATP Tour that I love watching more than Fabrice Santoro! He is wizard on the court, and a gentleman off of it. His enthusiasm and passion for the game are what this sport is all about.
Ferrer and Santoro are 1-1 against each other, but they haven’t played since 2006. How long can Santoro keep going? Every time you think he is done, he comes back again!! To me, this is going to be the match of the day and I am very happy because there is a good chance I am going to be sitting in the stands! This is going to feature long rallies and some of the most creative shot-making you have ever seen. The French fans will be rooting like no other for Santoro, and you can be sure that there will be some Spanish fans in attendance as well.
The conditions of the court are going to make a big difference in this match. The slower the court, the more it favors Santoro, the faster and dryer the court, the more the advantage shifts to Ferrer. Also, the longer this match goes the more it favors Santoro. Ferrer has to get down to business right away, because Santoro is very capable of pulling off this upset.
Nick’s Pick – Ferrer in three, either in four, Santoro in five
James Blake (USA) vs. Ernests Gulbis (LAT)
Blake looked very good in the first two-and-a-half sets against Rainer Schuettler in the opening round. He was up 5-1 in the third set when something went wrong and all of a sudden he was locked in a tiebreaker (which he eventually won). He cannot do that again, or he will be packing his bags for home.
Gulbis is a 19-year old Latvian who is extremely talented, and currently ranked #80 in the world. He easily beat Simon Greul 6-4, 6-0, 6-4 in the first round giving him only his second career win at the French Open.
This will be the first career meeting between Blake and Gulbis, and promises to be an exciting one. Both players feature huge forehands and solid serves. Look out for Gulbis if he gets his first serve in and isn’t making errors, because he can bang away from the baseline with the best of them. The key for Blake is his first serve. He was up around 70% in the first two sets against Schuettler, but then fell back in the third set and finished at 61% for the match. If he gets it in his whole game elevates to another level. Also, I still think Blake needs to come into the net more and attack whenever he can. This will help him control the court and stay focused. Against Schuettler he came in 23 times and converted on 14 of those chances, if he can continue this trend he will be in good shape.
Nick’s Pick – Blake in 4 sets
Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. Michael Llodra (FRA)
Amazingly, Berdych only lost a total of 1 game in his first round romp over Robert Smeets. He did reach the fourth round here back in 2006, but lost in the first round in 2007. Berdych hasn’t played too much on clay so far in ’08, but did pick up wins over Blake, Robin Soderling, and Guillermo Canas in the World Team Championships last week.
Llodra needed four sets to dispense of fellow Frenchman Olivier Patience in the first round. This is one player you cannot overlook. He has already won two titles this year, and is a very smart player.
Berdych is 2-0 against Llodra in his career, including a clay-court victory over him in 2005. Not only is Llodra a lefty, he has a nice one-handed backhand, and is a very aggressive player. He likes to come into the net and force the action. He is an excellent doubles player as well. Berdych is going to have to be patient against Llodra, and not make too many unforced errors. Berdych will use his powerful groundstrokes and booming serve to try and keep the Frenchman back at the baseline. This should be an interesting match, and I like Berdych in the end.
Nick’s Pick – Berdych in 4 sets