2011 French Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Round 3
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Wow, what a third round match this is going to be! Del Potro was on a roll, got hurt, came back and was winning again and then had to pull out of Madrid just a few weeks ago so his physical well-being is up in the air. He has all the tools to end Djokovic’s winning streak, but how will he hold up physically. If anyone could take out Djokovic right now, it could be Del Potro as he can step into the court and hit the high ball above his shoulder and catch the Serbian out of position.
Djokovic is 3-0 against Del Potro, and beat him on clay back in 2009 in Rome in straight sets. To me, this match is all about Djokovic and his mental focus. He needs to just remain focused on the task at hand and not worry about anything else. He knows his game is the best right now and if he can continue to keep his mind in the right place I have to give him the advantage. This should be one heck of a match!
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 4 sets
David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)
Ferrer is 2-0 against Stakhovsky and just beat him on clay in Madrid earlier this year. The Spaniard essentially has no weaknesses on clay. He moves well, his serve is clicking, he is a great returner, and his groundstrokes are penetrating. He is a very dangerous player on the dirt and it is going to take one heck of a match to beat him.
Stakhovsky took out Kei Nishikori in four sets in the second round and is into the third round of the French Open for the first time in his career. He doesn’t make many errors, he hits the tar out of the ball from both sides and he can really bomb his serve. He plays with a ton of confidence whenever he steps onto the court. I am not sure he has the game to beat Ferrer on clay, but he can certainly push him to four sets.
Nick’s Pick – Ferrer in 4 sets
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO)
Ljubicic is 2-1 against Verdasco, but lost their only match-up on clay. He is coming off a good win over Sam Querrey in the second round and he looks very confident right now. You know he has the big serve, but he also can follow that up with solid groundstrokes and heady play. He understands what it takes to win and even on clay he can control play with his serve and groundies.
Verdasco hasn’t had a great year and his ranking has slipped to #20. He still has the big serve and monster forehand, but the rest of his game hasn’t been as good as it was in the past. If he gets to tiebreakers against Ljubicic he should have the advantage, but I like the way Ljubicic is playing right now and I look for him to score the upset and win in four sets.
Nick’s Pick – Ljubicic in4 sets
Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Michael Berrer (GER)
This is the first match between Murray and Berrer. This is Berrer’s first appearance in the 3rd round of a Grand Slam in his career. He comes into the tournament ranked #95 in the world, but he has been as high as #42. He is a lefty, which always presents a unique challenge, but I don’t think he has enough to beat Murray on clay.
Speaking of Murray, there have been plenty of questions about whether or not he will win a Grand Slam and I just don’t think anyone can win one right now without playing more aggressively. I feel he is playing too defensively and he just needs to go out there and whack it! He needs to show off his impressive two-handed backhand and his great return of serve. He has the game to beat anyone, but on the biggest stage he hasn’t been able to use his weapons to their fullest. I love watching Murray play and he is a fighter which I admire, but I just wish he would play more aggressively when he has the opportunity.
He should be able to get by Berrer in straight sets, but as the tournament progresses I am going to keep my eye on how he plays.
Nick’s Pick – Murray in 3 sets