Is Alexander “Sascha” Zverev a lock to reach the fourth round? Will former top-five superstar Kei Nishikori have anything left in the tank after going the distance in each of his first two French Open matches?
Last, but not least, will the blossoming Casper Ruud challenge for a berth in this year’s French Open semifinals after reaching the semis or better in four straight events coming into Roland Garros?
Alexander Zverev vs. Laslo Djere
Alexander Zverev -650
Laslo Djere +475
Alexander Zverev -7 -110
Laslo Djere +7 -110
Analysis: The 24-year-old German Zverev needed five sets to win his opener before dispatching the unheralded Roman Safiullin in straight sets in the second round, as predicted. The 26-year-old Serb Djere went four sets in his opener, but needed the full five sets to dispatch Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round while coming back from two sets down.
Prediction: This third-round clash will be the second match between the pair. Sixth in the world rankings, Zverev leads the head-to-head 1-0, having defeated the world No. 55 Djere 6-4, 6-3 in the second round at Acapulco in March.
Djere is a very good player, but Zverev is the bigger and stronger player with more dangerous weapons off the ground and his serve. I’m going to predict that Djere gets one set in this affair, but Zverev wins it with an emphatic fourth-set close-out that covers the seven-game spread.
Pick: Alexander Zverev in 4 Sets
Kei Nishikori vs. Henri Laaksonen
Kei Nishikori -325
Henri Laaksonen +265
Kei Nishikori -6 -110
Henri Laaksonen +6 -1150
Analysis: Now 49th in the ATP rankings, 31-year-old Japan native Kei Nishikori has gone the distance in both of his first two matches to reach the third round. Nishikori came back from a 2-1 deficit to beat world No. 23 Karn Kachanov with identical 6-4 scores in the final two sets the last time out.
The 29-year-old Laaksonen, the world No. 150, won his opener in four sets and then pulled off a huge upset by taking out No. 11 Roberto Bautista in four sets, winning the final two sets 6-3, 6-2 over the Spaniard.
Prediction: While these two have never met before and Nishikori should be relatively tired after playing 10 sets in two matches, the fact of the matter is that the former top-five player possesses extraordinary firepower and still has excellent court coverage for an over-30-year-old. This one will go at least four sets and could go five. Either way, I like Nishikori minus six games to win at value-packed -110 odds.
Pick: Kei Nishikori in 4 Sets
Casper Ruud vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Casper Ruud -325
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina +265
Total Games: 35
Analysis: World No. 16 Casper Ruud, at 22, is blossoming before our very eyes. The Norwegian came into Roland Garros with a stellar 20-6 record and a win at the recently completed Geneva Open almost two weeks ago. Ruud dispatched veteran Frenchman Benoit Paire in four sets after dropping the opening set and bounced Kamil Majchrzak in straight sets in the second round. World No. 46 Fokina, 21, beat Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets in his opener, but needed to go the distance to oust Botic van de Zandschulp in the second round.
Prediction: Ruud and Fokina have met once on the ATP Tour, with Ruud escaping with a five-set win at the NextGen Finals in 2019. Since then, Ruud has become an elite player while Fokina is still looking to make the leap from good to the Top 20. Still, I’m thinking this match goes at least four sets. Ruud gets it done as a solid -325 pick.