In the second men’s quarterfinal of the day at the BNP Paribas Open, Novak Djokovic faces off against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The winner of this matchup will meet the winner of the first quarterfinal between Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic’s Road To The Quarters
The defending champion has looked more vulnerable this week in his first tournament since Dubai where he had to retire due to an eye infection. In his first match against Bjorn Fratangelo, the American came out firing, stunning Djokovic by taking the opening set 6-2. However, it was a workmanlike performance from the Serb the rest of the way, taking it 6-1, 6-2 in the final two sets.
It was a tricky matchup against Philipp Kohlschreiber in his third round match. Both times he led each set 4-1, before squandering it but eventually won.
After struggles in his first two matches, Djokovic had no problems in his fourth round match against Feliciano Lopez, the man he retired against in Dubai. The world number one cruised, taking the match 6-3, 6-3.
Tsonga’s Road To The Quarters
The Frenchman has yet to drop a set in the tournament and has looked good so far. He met fellow countryman Vincent Millot in his first match. Millot came out firing, pushing Tsonga in the first set 7-5. After that, it was cruise control, taking the second set 6-1 against Millot, and then followed up by easily taking out Sam Querrey in straights.
In his fourth round match, Dominic Thiem was awaiting and it looked to be a tricky match for the Frenchman. The Austrian is one of the hottest players on tour this year so many thought this one would be a tight one. It was anything but with the Frenchman rolling 6-3, 6-2.
Djokovic leads the head-to-head between the two, 14-6. The Serb has won 10 of their past 11 meetings, including a run of nine straight before the Frenchman won in their round of 16 showdown at the Rogers Cup in 2014. Tsonga went on to win the title that year. Their last meeting was at the Shanghai Masters final last year. Djokovic won 6-2, 6-4.
Djokovic is the favorite in this one to either win in two tight sets or a tight set and a blowout set. Djokovic’s ability to dictate baseline rallies will trouble Tsonga, especially if they get into long, extended rallies.
The Frenchman has been serving phenomenally this tournament, and he’ll need to do just that to stand a chance against Djokovic. The Serb’s return is the best in the game so anything but his best will mean a loss for the Frenchman.
Tsonga needs to be sure he’s not hitting too many backhands in this match, as his backhand is his weaker wing. Despite boasting any significant weaknesses, the side that breaks down more often from Djokovic is his forehand. So the Frenchman will want to get into more forehand-to-forehand rallies than anything else. Anything to Djokovic’s backhand is a losing proposition for the nine seed.
Prediction: Djokovic in straights
Tsonga has looked much more convincing throughout the tournament than the Serb, and many don’t say that too often. However, Djokovic brings his best against the best opponents, so this one will go in favor of the Serb in two tight sets.