French Open quarterfinal preview: Novak Djokovic - Tomas Berdych

French Open quarterfinal preview: Novak Djokovic - Tomas Berdych

Top seed Novak Djokovic takes on a familiar foe in 7th seed Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals of the French Open with a place in the semifinals at stake.

tevon-king
Tevon King

Top seed Novak Djokovic's quest for his first French Open title continues as he takes on a familiar foe, 7th seed Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals of the French Open with a place in the semifinals at stake.

The world number one has hardly been troubled in his swift progression to the quarterfinals of the French Open but 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut proved to be a stern test for Djokovic in the fourth round.

Berdych has been going through his section of the draw quietly and he is hardly being discussed as a contender for the title at Roland Garros, and he has only dropped two sets on the way to the quarterfinals.

The Czech is usually consistent at reaching the quarterfinals or better at Grand Slam tournaments but after he reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2015, he lost in the fourth round of the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open last year.

So far he has reached two Grand Slam quarterfinals this year, as he suffered a loss to Roger Federer in straight sets at the Australian Open.

How they got here

The seventh-seeded Czech easily dispatched last year's Wimbledon quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil in the first round with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 victory.

Berdych followed up this win by defeating Malek Jaziri in four sets on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Berdych recorded two impressive wins over clay court specialists, the 25th seed Pablo Cuevas in the third round and 11th seed David Ferrer in the fourth round in straight sets which was a shock to many as plenty thought Ferrer would win that match or not lose in straight sets.

Djokovic's progression to the quarterfinals was mixed. The three-time finalist at the French Open breezed past Yen-Hsun Lu, Steve Darcis, and Aljaz Bedene in his first three matches without dropping a set.

In the fourth round, Djokovic's match against 14th seed Bautista Agut took two days to complete as play was halted when Djokovic led 3-6, 6-4, 4-1.

The Serb recovered trailed the Spaniard 4-2 in the fourth set of the match but he recovered in empathic fashion to take that set 7-5 and win the match 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 to advance to his 10th French Open quarterfinal in 12 appearances.

Berdych celebrates his victory over Ferrer on Court Suzanne Lenglen (Photo: Dennis Grombkowski Source: Getty Images)
Berdych celebrates his victory over Ferrer on Court Suzanne Lenglen (Photo: Dennis Grombkowski Source: Getty Images)

Head-to-head

Berdych and Djokovic are not strangers to each other, as they have met 25 times on tour and Djokovic has dominated their rivalry by leading 23-2.

The pair have played each other at least once every year since 2008. They have met 20 times on hard courts, three times on clay and twice on grass.

Berdych's two victories over Djokovic have come at Wimbledon in 2010 in the semifinals in straight sets en route to reaching his solitary Grand Slam final and Berdych came back from a set down to defeat Djokovic at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in the quarterfinals in 2013 on clay.

The Serb's most important victories over Berdych have been in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2013, Davis Cup in 2010 and 2013, the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters final in 2015, China Open final in 2014, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final in 2013, the ATP World Tour finals in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and twice at the Australian Open in the 2011 and 2013 quarterfinals en route to winning those slams.

Who wins

Berdych will be confident going into this match with Djokovic as he has defeated Cuevas and Ferrer, two difficult clay court players. If the conditions are heavy, where he can strike through the court, he will give Djokovic some problems.

The Czech is a big hitter and since he has won a match against Djokovic on clay and at a Grand Slam before, the Czech will fancy his chances.

Djokovic is in his 28th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal which is a remarkable achievement. The run has stretched back from Wimbledon in 2009.

The world number one will have been happy to have come through a tough match against Bautista Agut and it shows that Djokovic is mentally tough and ready to grind out a win over his opponents.

Djokovic will have been pleased to have seen Ferrer lose to Berdych as Ferrer would have the top seed chasing down a lot of balls on clay and with an overwhelming head-to-head record over Berdych, Djokovic will fancy his chances.

This match is on first on Court Philippe-Chatrier starting at 1pm local time and the winner of this match will play 12th seed David Goffin or 13th seed Dominic Thiem in the semifinals.

Both Djokovic and Berdych will have been pleased to have seen Nadal and Tsonga pull out of the tournament with wrist and groin injuries respectively.

Djokovic and Berdych will both fancy their chances to reach the French Open final as Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are drawn to face each other in the other semifinal.

Depending on the conditions if it is hot and dry, Djokovic should win comfortably but if the conditions are overcasted by rain, it could favour Berdych but you cannot look past a Djokovic win regardless.

Prediction: Djokovic to win in four sets.

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