This is turning into quite a Grand Slam for the French contingent, with the women at the tip of the spear. Given the absence of some top WTA stars, there’s a real chance a pair of French women will meet in the final for the first time in the history of the tournament as an international event. One local man is also still in the hunt, vying for a quarterfinal berth. Here are three of the more compelling Day 9 matchups:
No. 1 Andy Murray vs. Karen Khachanov (first meeting)
As the record shows, this is an excellent matchup. But in one of those odd twists of fate, these two haven’t met since 2011. And both men were different, lesser players back then. Monfils is always inspired at the French Open. He’s been a semifinalist and three-time quarterfinalist. Wawrinka was the champ in 2015 and a semifinalist last year. Once again, Monfils will have the support of the entire stadium. That’s counterbalanced by his surprising fragility and susceptibility to injury.
While they haven’t met in many years, the basics remain the same and make for an intriguing contrast: Wawrinka is more powerful and consistent; Monfils is quicker, more athletic and less predictable. But Monfils’ spectacular shot-making and showmanship overshadow the quality of his serve.
It has been the chief driver of his success thus far at Roland Garros. Monfils has put an outstanding 74 percent of his first serves into play and is winning more than 73 percent of those points. That blunts the glaring edge Wawrinka holds in the crucial second-serve-points-won department, 63 to 53 percent.