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French Open 2018: All eyes on Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem clash, Novak Djokovic seeks semi-final berth

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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134   //    05 Jun 2018, 15:39 IST

alexander zverev dominic thiem
Dominic Thiem (left) and Alexander Zverev after their Madrid final

The highlight of Day 10 of the French Open 2018 will be the quarter-final battle between two of the biggest stars of the next generation -- second seed Alexander Zverev and seventh seeded Dominic Thiem.

Heavily touted as the two best players to follow in the footsteps of the ‘Big Four’, their duel on Court Philippe-Chatrier will certainly draw the crowd in large numbers. At 24, Thiem is older than the 21-year-old Zverev and has more experience than the German playing on the big stage, especially at Roland Garros.

The Austrian has made it to the semi-finals in Paris in each of the last two years and certainly knows how to handle things on the brutal red dirt. His kick serve, heavy-spinning forehands and stubborn defence definitely make him a contender for the French Open title.

The ATP Lyon titlist leads their head-to-head record 4-2 and that includes a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 defeat of the German in the third round at the 2016 French Open.

But it is to be noted that Zverev was just 19 then and hadn’t matured. Two years on, the German has come to the French Open on the back of a stunning clay season, that has gifted him titles at Munich and Madrid, and also saw him reaching the final at Rome.

Zverev even prevailed over Thiem 6-4, 6-4 in the final at the Spanish capital, indicating his rise and development into a far more complete player than what he was two years ago.

The youngster knows how to rip off winners off both the wings when he gets into the groove, something that he showed in copious amounts at Rome against Rafael Nadal.

If he can find his range, it can get tough for Thiem. Having said that, Zverev might be tired from his exploits in the early rounds at the French Open this year. In each of his last three matches, he had to fight back and win in five sets.

That could take a toll on his body if Thiem establishes early control and prolongs the rallies.

Also in action will be the 2016 champion Novak Djokovic. The former World No. 1 has returned from an elbow surgery and is getting better and better with every outing in Paris.

The 12-time Major champion faces surprise quarter-finalist Marco Cecchinato, ranked 110th in the world. This will be the first meeting between the two.

On the women’s side, US Open champion Sloane Stephens faces a tough opponent in first time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Daria Kasatkina. The Russian may have broken new grounds with her defeat of the reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, but the former junior French Open champion sure knows how to grind it out on clay.

US Open runner-up Madison Keys too has had a very impressive show at the French capital so far. But now comes a stern test for her in the form of former quarter-finalist Yulia Putintseva. The Kazakh will look to make the most of her second appearance in the last-eight.

Here is the schedule of the two main courts:

Court Philippe-Chatrier

Play starts at 2pm local time/5.30pm IST

Dominic THIEM (AUT) [7] vs Alexander ZVEREV (GER) [2]

Sloane STEPHENS (USA) [10] vs Daria KASATKINA (RUS) [14]

Court Suzanne-Lenglen

Play starts at 2pm local time/5.30pm IST

Yulia PUTINTSEVA (KAZ) vs Madison KEYS (USA)[13]

Marco CECCHINATO (ITA) vs Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB) [20]

You can find the full schedule here.

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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