Here is a look at the featured matches at Day 4 of the Red Clay Slam!
Jo – Wilifried Tsonga vs. Jarkko Nieminen: A tricky match for the six seed Tsonga against Finland’s number one Jarkko Nieminen. Nieminen has been solid this year with a record of 21 – 13 and a recent finalist in Dusseldorf where he beat the likes of Tommy Haas before falling to Monaco in the final. He also made the quarters in Monte Carlo with solid victories against Troicki, Raonic, and Del Potro before losing to Djokovic. That being said, Tsonga is always tough to beat in Paris and this is a match he will not be overlooking. Jo – Willy beat him earlier this year in Miami and that will give him real confidence against Jarkko tomorrow. I like Tsonga in 4 close sets.
Gael Monfils vs. Ernests Gulbis: The Frenchman returns! Or does he? Another tough test for Monfils as he goes up against one of the hottest players in the game right now, Latvian Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis, with his crazy forehand and solid all around game, has the talent (like Monfils) to win a slam. We saw what kind of game this kid had in Rome when he hit 54 winners in a 3 set loss to Rafa. Monfils had a huge win over Berdych in the first round. But we all know how consistent Gael is after winning big matches. And that match was physically taxing. By the end of the match, Monfils was on his knees and was cramping. I like Gulbis in 4 sets, wearing Monfils down each rally.
Milos Raonic vs Michael Llodra: Another interesting second round match up between the big serving Canadian and the flashy veteran Frenchman. Llodra is a favorite in Paris and with good reason. He makes big shots and his shot selection is brilliant (sometimes). Raonic should be able to over power him with his serve though. Llodra’s return is not solid enough to break Milos. And Raonic’s return is much improved since last year. I like the big Canadian to advance in 4.
Somdev Devvarman vs. Roger Federer: Federer should have no problems with the crafty Devvarman in the second round. Although Somdev will grind to the end, it will not be enough to bother Roger. Somdev’s game style does not match up well with Federer at all. Roger in an easy straight sets victory.
Enjoy everybody! Joey and I will make our Day 4 picks up next!