Fabio Fognini and Alexander Zverev face off in the highlight of Monday’s popcorn matches
Ahead of a critical day nine at the French Open, James Spencer picks out his four must watch popcorn matches.
Katerina Siniakova vs Madison Keys (14)
The 23-year-old Czech stunned top seed and world number one Naomi Osaka to end her hopes of winning a third consecutive Grand Slam in the previous round.
Siniakova will, therefore, be full of confidence after that win and will be keen to extend her successful French Open campaign.
Meanwhile, Madison Keys has quietly made her way through the draw and her Grand Slam experience, including a final appearance at the 2017 US open should probably give her the edge.
Dominic Thiem (4) vs Gaël Monfils (14)
Austria’s Dominic Thiem is one of the best clay-court players in the world. He downed Rafael Nadal with some exquisite attacking tennis on his way to winning the Barcelona Open, and is one of a select group of active players to have beaten the King of Clay at least four times on this surface along with Fabio Fognini and Novak Djokovic.
Thiem has certainly looked beatable at this year’s French Open having dropped a set in each round to the likes of Tommy Paul, Alexander Bublik and Pablo Cuevas.
Gaël Monfils, meanwhile, alongside Benoit Paire, represents France’s last home hopes of finally winning the French Open.
Monfils is now 32-years-old meaning he is running out of opportunities to become the first Frenchman since Yannick Noah in 1983 to win the tournament.
Monfils has a decent clay-court game and recently held match points against Roger Federer in Madrid.
Thiem plays in so many tournaments and his endurance levels are one of the highest on the tour, meaning the Frenchman may have to play the match of his life to beat him over five sets.
It’s Gaël Monfils, though, so maybe best to expect the unexpected.
Amanda Anisimova vs Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov
The 17-year-old American teenager Anisimova continues to show her outstanding potential as she marches through the draw.
She faces another young talent in form of 21-year-old Spanish Moldovan Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov.
With nerves on the line, this match represents a unique opportunity for both players to earn a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final place.
Fabio Fognini (9) vs Alexander Zverev (5)
The charismatic Italian Fognini beat Zverev in Monte Carlo back in April on his way to winning his first Masters 1000 title, so he won’t be fazed by facing him again in Paris.
Fognini has a lot of weapons at his disposal, especially on clay, and his drop shots, slices, tactical forehands and overall baseline play could cause Zverev a lot of problems.
Zverev has again looked shaky at Grand Slam level and, similar to last year’s French Open, he has endured a fair few five-set tussles. The young German was fortunate to edge out Australian John Millman and Serbia’s Dušan Lajović in earlier rounds.
Sascha is certainly beatable but can Fognini finally deliver on the biggest stage and live up to his undoubted potential? It will be fun to see who comes out on top.
Follow James Spencer on Twitter @JamesTennis17
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