Contrasting Fortunes Set Up Great Second Week in Paris

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There have already been some big casualties at the 2021 French Open and it's shaping up to be an exciting second week.

Rafael Nadal at the French Open

Restored to its traditional spring spot in the calendar, the 2021 French Open has been glorious, even with Friday’s rain.

The schedule on the sixth day of the tournament has been hindered somewhat by the conditions but that should not deter from what has been a wonderful start to the event.

Two-time finalist Dominic Thiem was the major casualty of the opening rounds in the men’s tournament but it has been a different story in the women’s draw. As of writing, only four of the top 12 seeds are still standing in Paris and it is shaping up to be a sensational second week at Roland Garros.

Super Swiatek Sets the Pace

With everything that has transpired both on and off the court in the women’s draw, defending champion Iga Swiatek has somewhat gone under the radar.

The Pole was a surprise winner in 2020 and despite being just 20, she has been imperious on the Parisian dirt, dropping just seven games in straight-sets wins over Kaja Juvan and Rebecca Peterson.

Swiatek is the 11/10 favourite to win the French for a second time and is 2/13 to beat Anett Kontaveit on Saturday in the third round. However, she will need to be careful against the Estonian, who has won both of their previous meetings.

Her biggest threat could prove to be Serena Williams but the real one to watch is Victoria Azarenka. The two-time Australian Open champion blasted past Madison Keys 6-2 6-2 on Friday and will now face third-seed Arnya Sabalenka’s conqueror Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The 2013 semi-finalist appears to have worked through her tough times away from the court and is handily priced at 16/1 to win in Paris.

Clay King Rafa Looking Ominous

Previous generations would have viewed turning 35 way past retirement age but that’s what Rafael Nadal did on Thursday and he celebrated with a 6-0 7-5 6-2 victory against Richard Gasquet to set up a third round encounter against Cameron Norrie.

Nadal is the 4/6 favourite for a 14th French Open crown, leading 7/2 Novak Djokovic. The third and first seeds, respectively, are on course to meet in the semi-finals.

Before that, Djokovic may have to face 2009 hero Roger Federer, 50/1 in the outright market, and the stacked nature of the top half of the draw opens up the bottom section.

Daniil Medvedev is the second seed but Stefanos Tsitsipas is arguably more suited to clay and faces John Isner on Friday.

The Greek has won the last three meetings between himself and Isner, the most recent being a 6-3 6-2 win at March’s ATP Acapulco and is 1/8 to overcome the big-serving American.

Super Saturday Awaits…Weather Depending

The weather forecast for Saturday again looks unkind but the organisers did a decent job of getting things done on Friday and fans can only hope for more of the same.

Although Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are all set to be in third round action on Saturday, the match to watch could be one of the first on court.

Anointed in some sections of the game as Nadal’s heir, teenage qualifier Carlos Alcarez is clearly one to watch and has dropped just a single set in wins over Bernabe Zapata Miralles and Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Alcaraz faces the scrappy Jan-Lennard Struff and is 20/39 to book his spot in the last 16.

In the women’s draw on Saturday, Coco Gauff faces fellow American and Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady, while 2020 Melbourne champion, Sofia Kenin, is 5/7 to beat Jessica Pegula.

Meanwhile, three-time Roland Garros quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina is also 5/7 to overcome Barbora Krejcikova.

*All odds correct at time of writing

The first choice in any quiz team, Jack is your man for stats, facts and information across a wide range of different sports. As well as a vast knowledge of football, he specialises in cycling, rugby and tennis amongst a number of other sports.

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