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French Open Men’s Day 8 Tips: Nadal, Thiem, Schwartzman to book quarterfinal places at Roland Garros on Sunday

hannahwilks in French Open 03 Oct 2020
Rafael Nadal (Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

Favourites Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman all look set to record straight-set victories in the fourth round of the French Open on day eight.

Three of the world’s best clay-court players take to the court on day eight of the French Open 2020 to face unseeded opponents, looking to book places in the quarterfinals in Paris. Here’s how we see those matches playing out on Sunday 4 October.

Read on for our preview and predictions for Nadal vs Korda, Thiem vs Gaston and Schwartzman vs Sonego.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs Sebastian Korda (Q)

When: Court Philippe-Chatrier, 1pm local/11am BST

Head-to-head: First meeting

Preview: Despite dire forewarnings about how Rafael Nadal might struggle to adjust to the very different conditions of an autumnal French Open, the 12-time champion is doing what champions do: Adapting. Nadal has flattened out his shots, particularly his backhand cross-court, is serving well and has dropped just 19 games in three matches.

Sebastian Korda, son of two professional players including 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, has now won six matches at Roland Garros to qualify for the main draw and make the fourth round on his first appearance at the French Open. But the 20-year-old has only ever beaten one player ranked inside the top 50. He’s a bright talent but Nadal should not give up any more games than he has in his last two matches (four and five, respectively).

Nadal vs Korda prediction: Nadal -11.5 games

Dominic Thiem (3) vs Hugo Gaston (WC)

When: Court Philippe-Chatrier, 5pm local/4pm BST

Head-to-head: First meeting

Preview: Twenty years old and ranked world no. 239, needing a wildcard to get into the French Open, Hugo Gaston was not a player many anticipated seeing in the last 16, even after he beat fellow wildcard Maxime Janvier and Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the third round.

Hugo Gaston (PA Images)

But against 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, Gaston pulled off what was arguably the upset win of the tournament so far, beating Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 to make the last 16. At 5’8” Gaston is neither the tallest nor the most physically imposing player and he certainly couldn’t match Wawrinka’s power off the ground, which was supposed to be his big advantage in this tournament, but Gaston is a great mover, he showed real creativity and outlasted, outran and out-maneouvred Wawrinka.

Will the same tactics work against Thiem? In many ways, Thiem is a player in the same mould as Wawrinka, and he hasn’t looked flawless so far despite not dropping a set – all three of his opponents so far really should have won at least one set against him. They didn’t, though, and the US Open champion’s confidence is supreme. Gaston might – might – get a set. But no more.

Prediction:

Diego Schwartzman (12) vs Lorenzo Sonego

Diego Schwartzman (PA Images)

When: Court Suzanne-Lenglen, 2pm local/1pm BST

Head-to-head: First meeting

Preview: Admittedly not quite in the league of 12-time champion Nadal and two-time runner-up Thiem, Diego Schwartzman has nevertheless made himself into a force to be reckoned with on clay, particularly this year when he made his first Masters 1000 Series final in Rome by beating Nadal himself and then Denis Shapovalov to boot.

The Argentine is now looking to make his fourth career Grand Slam quarterfinal and second at the French Open, where he handled a potentially tricky opener against Kitzbuhel champion Miomir Kecmanovic with aplomb before giving neither qualifier Lorenzo Giustino nor Norbert Gombos a chance to find their feet.

Sonego, 25 years old, is at a career-high ranking of world no. 46 after some very strong results on clay in 2019, including a quarterfinal appearance at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, a semifinal in Kitzbuhel and a win at the Geneva Challenger; he also won his first ATP Tour title on grass in Antalya. He beat Emilio Gomez, Alexander Bublik and Taylor Fritz – three very varied opponents – to reach the last 16, and he’s playing well; this might go longer than three sets.

Prediction: