The quarter-final stage at the French Open starts today, and returning to discuss the first two men's matches in this round is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"In those four recent head-to-head meetings, Thiem has really exploited the Argentine's weak serve - Schwartzman has held serve just 57% of the time in their last four meetings - and there has been a real return-orientated theme to these clashes."
Business as usual for the strong favourites yesterday
It was business as usual yesterday for the array of men's favourites in remaining round four action, with all winning and only Andrey Rublev dropping a single set. I've said it before and I'll say it again now - men's Grand Slam tournaments would be much more watchable for the neutral with no seeding and an open draw, so big names could be drawn against each other in the early rounds and have more 'giant-killers' - potentially playing each other in the quarter-finals onwards. These constant thrashings of lowly-ranked players by big names helps no-one except those big-name players.
Return-orientated clash likely between Thiem and Schwartzman
Unfortunately but realistically, there's a decent chance of there being more of the same today, with the first two quarter-finals on this afternoon's schedule. Men's action gets underway at 1300 UK time - a little later than previously this tournament - and in the opener, Diego Schwartzman faces Dominic Thiem.
Thiem is the 1/21.50 favourite, which looks very slightly on the large side but really is nothing particularly untoward - he's evidently the better clay-courter but is perhaps a little vulnerable given his travails against Hugo Gaston in the fourth round, where the unheralded Frenchman took him to five sets. This was a real surprise given how impressive Thiem performed against the excellent Norwegian clay-courter, Casper Ruud, in round three.
Schwartzman is yet to drop a set so far in this tournament, but realistically, hasn't been particularly expected to be tested, given that he has been a 1/41.25 favourite or shorter against all four opponents en route to this stage.
The duo have met eight times before with the last four being when Schwartzman was in or around the top 20, and from 2019 onwards. In those four recent head-to-head meetings, Thiem has really exploited the Argentine's weak serve - Schwartzman has held serve just 57% of the time in their last four meetings - and there has been a real return-orientated theme to these clashes. This is also evidenced by the low projected hold percentages which my model generated here, with both players below the 70% mark.
Improving Sinner still with plenty to find to test Nadal
Another player who is likely to struggle to hold serve consistently is Jannik Sinner, with the impressive Italian teenager having the unenviable task of trying to test Rafa Nadal. The King of Clay has steamrollered his opposition so far, all in straight sets with 8/12 sets being decided by a 6-2, 6-1 or 6-0 scoreline.
While Sinner is a considerable upgrade on the opposition Nadal has faced so far, it would still be a major shock if he was to defeat Nadal this afternoon. The market currently has Nadal as 1/121.08 to progress, and this was a line that my model pretty much agreed with. Nadal's 18-month clay data is absolutely stratospheric, and far better than the competition - even Novak Djokovic.