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Ricky’s Paris Picks for Day 8 of the French Open Tennis • Federer And Nadal •10sBalls

Roger Federer of Switzerland plays Oscar Otte of Germany during their men’s second round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 29 May 2019. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be back in action at the French Open on Sunday. Combined, they will be facing their sixth and seventh unseeded opponents of the fortnight. Kei Nishikori and Benoit Paire are also taking the court.

 

Ricky previews three of Sunday’s matches and makes his predictions.

 

Leonardo Mayer vs. (3) Roger Federer

 

Federer and Mayer will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers. Although Federer has won all three of their previous encounters, one was especially memorable. In their first-ever meeting at the 2014 Shanghai Masters, the Swiss saved five match points before prevailing 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(7). He has since gotten the best of Mayer 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 at the 2015 U.S. Open and 6-1, 7-6(6) at the 2018 Cincinnati Masters.

 

An all-37-year-old matchup could have been in the cards, but Mayer ended Nicolas Mahut’s run with 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(3) success on Friday. The Argentine preceded that result by defeating Jiri Vesely in straights and Diego Schwartzman in four. Federer has not surrendered a set while mostly waltzing past Lorenzo Sonego, Oscar Otte, and Casper Ruud. The 2009 FO champion is looking good on clay and he will likely cruise once again as a heavy favorite over another unseeded opponent.

 

Pick: Federer in 3

 

Juan Ignacio Londero vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

 

Londero will be Nadal’s third opponent outside of the top 70 in the first four rounds. The 11-time RG champion made mincemeat out of little-known qualifiers Yannick Hanfmann and Yannick Maden before dealing with a tougher time against David Goffin during a 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win. On the heels of a disappointing start to the clay-court season but not an entirely alarming one given his knee issues in March, Nadal is 8-0 in his last eight matches with only two sets lost and 10 sets won by either a 6-0 or 6-1 scoreline.

 

At 25 years old, Londero is just now emerging on the true tennis scene. The Argentine had never won a single ATP-level match prior to 2019 but has now picked up 13 such victories, surging to No. 78 in the world and soon to be in the top 60. Londero dismissed Nikoloz Basilashvili and Richard Gasquet before outlasting French WC Corentin Moutet 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in a wild atmosphere on Friday evening. The recent Cordoba champ is clearly an emerging force on clay, but he will be fatigued both mentally and physically and he now plays on a stage that he has never experienced.

 

Pick: Nadal in 3(7) Kei Nishikori vs. Benoit Paire

 

These two familiar foes will be facing each other for the ninth time in their careers on Sunday. Nishikori leads the head-to-head series 6-2 after winning four in a row at Paire’s expense. That includes a French Open second-round showdown last spring, when the Japanese veteran improved to 2-0 against the Frenchman at this event with a 6-3, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.

 

One of the best fifth-set players in history, Nishikori was up to his usual tricks on Friday when he battle back from two breaks down in the decider to defeat Laslo Djere. Paire also survived a five-setter–in his second-rounder vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert–but he got a retirement from Pablo Carreno Busta thereafter and should be well rested. Still, Nishikori has never had any endurance problems (injuries, yes) and he will likely be tougher than Paire from a mental standpoint in what will likely be a competitive contest.

 

Pick: Nishikori in 4

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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