French Open

Three to See, Roland Garros Day 8: Rafael Nadal vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime, Leylah Fernandez vs. Amanda Anisimova, Coco Gauff vs. Elise Mertens

By Steve Tignor May 28, 2022
French Open

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French Open

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By Steve Tignor Jun 05, 2022
French Open

The eternal now of Rafael Nadal: A journey of endurance, patience, and suffering for the Roland Garros title

By Joel Drucker Jun 05, 2022
French Open

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By Ed McGrogan Jun 05, 2022
French Open

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By Steve Tignor Jun 04, 2022
French Open

"She's always hitting winners": Six months after trusting her talent like never before, Iga Swiatek is the one setting new standards in ground-stroke prowess

By Steve Tignor Jun 04, 2022
French Open

Coco Gauff's Paris education continues after Roland Garros final defeat to Iga Swiatek

By Joel Drucker Jun 04, 2022
French Open

Flawless Iga Swiatek sweeps to Roland Garros title, conquers Coco Gauff in final

By David Kane Jun 04, 2022
French Open

Casper Ruud beat Marin Cilic at Roland Garros by channeling the man he’ll play in his first major final: Rafael Nadal

By Steve Tignor Jun 03, 2022

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Rafael Nadal vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime

“I don’t know if I need insight on how Rafa plays, to be honest,” Auge- Aliassime said with a laugh on Friday, when he was asked if his coach, Toni Nadal, would give him any tips on how to beat his nephew. “I think we all know what he does well.”

Auger Aliassime says that Toni will watch this fourth-round encounter from a “neutral place,” and just “enjoy the match.” Will FAA enjoy his experience, too? After a two-month slide, he’s back on the track that took him to the US Open semifinals last year, and the Australian Open quarterfinals this year. Auger-Aliassime played some spectacular tennis in a loss to Novak Djokovic in Rome two weeks ago, and he took care of a potentially tough opponent in Filip Krajinovic in the third round in Paris. Whenever that match got tight, Auger-Aliassime played more aggressively and more effectively.

Still, as FAA says, we all know that Rafa is in another class. The Spaniard won their only meeting, in two sets in Madrid in 2019. Auger-Aliassime says he’s a different player now, and that’s true. His serve is a big weapon, his return has improved, and he does a better job of moving around his backhand to hit as many forehands as he can.

But therein lies the problem for him in this matchup: Rafa’s lefty serve and forehand are tough to run around, which means FAA will probably have to hit more backhands than he wants. Advantage Rafa. Winner: Nadal

So much as changed in the three years since Nadal and Auger-Aliassime met for the first and thus far only time, in Madrid (Rafa won, 6-3, 6-3).

So much as changed in the three years since Nadal and Auger-Aliassime met for the first and thus far only time, in Madrid (Rafa won, 6-3, 6-3).

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Leylah Fernandez vs. Amanda Anisimova

Are these two really just 19 (Fernandez) and 20 (Anisimova) years old, respectively? The Canadian and the American seem like tour veterans by now, and each has already made a deep run at a major. But they’ve only faced off once, in a second-round match at Indian Wells this year that ended in bizarre circumstances. Unable to close it out in the second set, Anisimova walked off the court and never came back, later claiming that she was ill.

Both of these players look to be in better shape than they were earlier this spring. In her back-and-forth three-set win over Belinda Bencic on Friday, Fernandez’s baseline-hugging play brought back memories of her US Open glory days from last year. She’ll have to be that good, or better, to pick up the ball on the short hop against Anisimova, who has looked very comfortable on this surface all week. Winner: Anisimova

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Coco Gauff vs. Elise Mertens

The fourth round at a major is often a Waterloo for Gauff and Mertens. The American is only 18, but she has already lost at this stage three times. The Belgian has had an even tougher time, going out in the round of 16 seven times, including at the last two Slams, in New York and Melbourne. So a victory here and a trip to the quarterfinals would be big for both women. Each of them will also know that their potential opponents in the quarters, Sloane Stephens or Jil Teichmann, aren’t unstoppable forces.

Gauff and Mertens have met once, on grass in Eastbourne last year, and it was a match that Mertens would surely love to avenge. She won the first set 6-0, only to see Gauff climb back in it and win the next two sets 7-6 and 7-5. Neither woman has dropped a set in Paris, but Gauff has had the slightly better clay swing so far. Winner: Gauff