Kei Nishikori in the first round at Roland Garros, 2018
Kei Nishikori in the first round at Roland Garros, 2018 | (Photo by Mike Frey/Getty Images)

Roland Garros 2018 | Three to See on Day 4

By Jake Davies

  • Kei Nishikori [19] vs Benoit Paire
  • Novak Djokovic [20] vs Jaume Munar
  • Elina Svitolina [4] vs Viktoria Kuzmova
PARIS, FRANCE – Our Day Four Roland Garros Three- to-See features former Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori and one of the favourites Elina Svitolina.


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Kei Nishikori [19] vs Benoit Paire H2H: Nishikori leads 3-2

This certainly is an enticing battle between two players that go about their business in very different ways on a tennis court. Kei Nishikori internalises most of his emotions when on court, while the mercurial Frenchman Benoit Paire really can lose his head and wears his heart on his sleeve and will be looking to get the home crowd involved in one of the most important matches of his 2018 season.

These two did play at Roland Garros in 2013, where Nishikori came out the victor, and Paire was booed off court for his efforts by the Parisian crowd in that particular encounter. Paire’s performances have improved in terms of his application to matches in recent weeks, but his game should be way too one-sided and backhand-reliant to really trouble Nishikori, who is building confidence step by step after a long term wrist problem. Nishikori simply has many tools to hurt the Frenchman, while Paire’s forehand sticks out like a sore thumb versus tougher opposition.

Prediction: Nishikori in four sets.


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Novak Djokovic [20] vs Jaume Munar H2H: First meeting

Novak Djokovic in the first round at Roland Garros, 2-018
Novak Djokovic in the first round at Roland Garros, 2-018 | (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

The second of our three-to-see matches on Day 4 of Roland Garros sees the young Spaniard Jaume Munar play the former World No.1 and No.20 seed Novak Djokovic in his first ever second round match of a major in his career. Munar beat one of his idols in his opening round, where he came back from two sets down to beat David Ferrer and it will be interesting to see how much positive emotion he has left to give, because he will need that energy to drive him through this big match.

Djokovic’s matches in Madrid and in Rome were more positive than in Indian Wells and Miami, but we still need to see how he responds when a match gets pulled into a long four or five set battle. His forehand is surprisingly looking like the star shot in his comeback, while the backhand is not as consistent as it once was. The big component to Djokovic’s epic rise in 2011, where he won three grand slams in one year, was his mental endurance over the course of a long match and his ability to back his game against anyone he faced. That has come under scrutiny, but he should be able to surpass an inexperienced Munar, whose game is limited at best.

Prediction: Djokovic in three sets


Elina Svitolina [4] vs Viktoria Kuzmova H2H: First meeting

Elina Svitolina in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018
Elina Svitolina in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

One of the contenders for the title over the French fortnight is Ukrainian No.1 and No.4 seed Elina Svitolina, who had to battle her way from 1-5 down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets, but the most notable improvement in her game over the last twelve months is her tendency to pull through when the chips are down.

Viktoria Kuzmova offers a very tough challenge. Has the skill to hit very big off both sides and is not afraid to test the margins in her groundstrokes, but finishing the point as quickly as possible. The question is how she contains that against one of the best thinkers on a tennis court. Svitolina’s rise to prominence has seen her find that balance of choosing when to attack and when to defend, while Kuzmova is still at that stage in her career, where she is finding out what works best. That is why I give Svitolina an edge in this one.

Prediction: Svitolina in two sets.

Play continues on Day Four of Roland Garros at 11am (10am BST).

Main Image: Mike Frey/Getty Images


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