2008 French Open – Nick’s Pick – Men’s Singles 3rd 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!
Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) vs. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO)
Davydenko collected a big win over fellow Russian, Marat Safin, in the 2nd round. Now he will have to face another tough competitor in the 3rd round. Things don’t ever seem to be easy for Davydenko, but somehow the guy just keeps on winning.
Ljubicic has had a tough year, and has seen his ranking slip from #19 to #30 in the world. I call him the “Sleeping Giant,” because he always looks like he is tired out on the court! Just be careful not to awake him, or you could find yourself on the wrong side of the winner’s circle!
Davydenko and Ljubicic are 3-3 against each other, with Davydenko collecting a win over the Croat a couple of weeks ago on clay at Hamburg. When you talk about Ljubicic, the first thing that comes to mind is his serve. Well, don’t forget about his great return of serve either! He also takes the ball early which gives his opponents fits. To win this match, Ljubicic is going to have to serve out of his mind. Davydenko is as solid and stoic as they come, so don’t look for him to show many emotions no matter what the score. Davydenko will move Ljubicic around the court, and I believe that will be the difference in this match.
Nick’s Pick – Davydenko in 4 sets
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
I’m not going to lie, Hewitt has definitely surprised me thus far. He had a hip injury coming into the tournament, and there was question whether or not he was even going to play. Well, he has played, and played great!
Ferrer wasted little time beating Fabrice Santoro in the 2nd round, losing only one game in three sets. I thought Santoro would give him more trouble, but in the end the Spaniard was just way too much for the French veteran. Ferrer is someone to watch out for as the tournament progresses.
Hewitt is 1-0 against Ferrer, with that win coming in 2006 at Wimbledon. This match will be quite different than that one. Hewitt will have his work cut out for him, because Ferrer is one of the best clay-court players in the world. Ferrer’s movement is top-notch, and he is one of the best serve returners in the game. Hewitt cannot, I repeat, cannot win this match standing 6-8 feet behind the baseline. Ferrer will punish him if he does that. Hewitt has played two good matches, but this is where I think his run is going to end.
Nick’s Pick – Ferrer in 4 sets
Wayne Odesnik (USA) vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Odesnik has surprised everyone by winning two matches, and beating two solid players (Guillermo Canas and Hyung-Taik Lee). There was plenty of talk about Americans failing again in Paris, and so far Odesnik is trying to buck this trend.
After a bit of a scare in the first round, Djokovic bounced back with an excellent three-set victory in the second round. As long as he is feeling healthy and ready to play, Djokovic is a serious threat to win this tournament.
This will be the first career match between Odesnik and Djokovic, and you know the eyes of America will be watching. Odesnik is a good lefty player, that isn’t uncomfortable on clay. After winning two rounds, the pressure is now going to be on him to keep this going. I think the you-know-what is about to hit the fan for him! Djokovic stands close to the baseline, takes the ball early, and has some of the best groundstrokes on the ATP Tour. He has a top-notch serve and moves extremely well. Unfortunately, I think this is where the fun stops for the American.
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro (ESP) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Almagro picked up a three set victory in the second round, and he is now in the third round of the French Open for the first time in his career. He already has two titles this year, and is an excellent clay-court player.
Murray has been up and down in 2008, winning two titles early and having some inconsistent results lately. I like the way he fights and scraps, and he is going to need everything he’s got to win this match.
Murray and Almagro have never played before, but I don’t think this will be the last match between these two talented youngsters. The key to this match is Murray’s focus and temperament. He cannot take Almagro lightly (and I don’t think he will), and he has to play within himself. If Murray starts to make some mistakes Alamgro will jump all over him. This is going to be a close match, but I give the edge to Murray because he has a little more experience in big matches.
Nick’s Pick – Murray in 5 sets