With the fortnight in Paris winding to a close, there are two semi-final spots up for grabs on Day 10 at Roland Garros. Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will take on second seed Daniil Medvedev in an intriguing rematch of their Australian Open clash, while sixth seed Alexander Zverev will try to outlast the seemingly tireless Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Medvedev and Tsitsipas will headline the night session on Court Philippe-Chatrier as they meet in the second week of a Grand Slam for the second time this year. On his favoured hard courts in Melbourne, the Russian triumphed 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in the semi-finals.
Both players own a perfect 3-0 record in Grand Slam quarter-finals – but something will have to give in Paris.
Medvedev is in terra incognita at Roland Garros, contesting the quarter-finals on a surface on which he has just begun to find his footing. By contrast, Tsitsipas excels on clay, with three of his seven career ATP Tour titles coming on this surface, including two in 2021.
“I learned that [at] Roland Garros, I need to play like on hard courts because [here the ball] is bouncing low and fast,” Medvedev reflected. “Definitely what I learned is that I can move really well on clay. For this, I need to have good shots. If you don’t have good shots, [the] good players on clay, they start to move you all around the court and you have no chance to get back into the point.
“Here, I’m able, with these balls, with these conditions, to make shots that [are] not going to let my opponent attack me straight away. Then I can take control of the game and be a great mover on clay.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) June 7, 2021
Medvedev has dominated the matchup against Tsitsipas, whom he leads 6-1 in their ATP Head2Head, including a victory on clay (1-0) at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in 2019 en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. The pair played each other three times in 2019, a breakthrough season for both. That year, Medvedev reached his first Grand Slam final with an unforgettable run at the US Open, while Tsitsipas went on to lift the Nitto ATP Finals trophy, the biggest title of his career.
They’ve only soared to new heights since, with Medvedev reaching No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and adding a Nitto ATP Finals and three Masters 1000 trophies to his cabinet. He could also rise to World No. 1 if he lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires, or if he reaches the final and Djokovic does not.
Tsitsipas, who is back at his career-high World No. 5 ranking, is the tour-leader in matches (37) and clay-court matches won (20). He won his maiden Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo in May, and claimed his seventh tour-level title in Lyon.
“He does serve extremely well, I have to say,” Tsitsipas said. “He has improved over the years with his serve. This is going to be something that I will have to face. Of course, myself playing well, I feel like I don’t have to think against who I’m facing or not.
“I just have to play my game, and let the rest be witnessed.”
In the Chatrier day session, sixth seed Zverev will take on the unseeded Davidovich Fokina for the second time at a Grand Slam. Zverev will take a 2-0 lead in their ATP Head2Head into the matchup after defeating him at last year’s US Open, where he dropped just five games.
With marathon world champion Martin Fiz in his corner, Davidovich Fokina has tirelessly worked his way through the draw after winning back-to-back five-setters in the second and third rounds, including an upset over 15th seed Casper Ruud. The Spaniard is into the last eight at a Grand Slam for the first time.
“These wins give me plenty of confidence, much more energy to keep going and to see where my limits are,” Davidovich Fokina told ATPTour.com. “Winning [against Ruud] in five sets also helped me see how far I can go and how much I can take. My whole team is very happy and I’m happy with the work we’ve been doing.”
Zverev, who reached the quarter-finals here in 2018 (l. Thiem) and 2019 (l. Djokovic), has the upper hand in terms of Grand Slam experience. The 2020 US Open finalist was in head-turning form as he dismantled Kei Nishikori in the fourth round at the expense of just six games. The German hasn’t dropped a set since his five-set clash against qualifier Oscar Otte in the opening round.
“I hope I continue playing the same way I did this match. Maybe even better,” Zverev said after his 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 win over Nishikori. “Now we’re in the quarter-finals and there are only eight of us left. The opponents are not getting easier. You need to perform at your best, play at your best.
“No matter who you’re playing, they already won four matches. I’m looking forward to that, of course. I know it’s not going to be any easier from this moment on.”