The round of 16 matches at the 2018 French Open were particularly disappointing – 6 of 8 matches were decided in straight sets, while one ended in a walkover, the other a retirement. The quarterfinal match-ups though promises to be exciting on paper – one pits up two former World No.1s and former French Open champions, while the other is a repeat match-up of one of the best matches of the year so far. Read on for the previews for Halep-Kerber and Muguruza vs Sharapova…
Roland Garros, Quarterfinals
1.  Simona Halep (No.1) vs  Angelique Kerber (No.12)
Halep has been playing like a World No.1 this fortnight and her latest dismissal of World No.16 Elise Mertens was very impressive. Halep did really well to get many balls onto the inconsistent Mertens’ forehand and came forward when she had the opportunity to. She won 61% of return points to break Mertens’ serve six times in their 6-2 6-1 match whilst hit 16 winners to 13 unforced errors. It was a very solid and controlled performance from Halep, but it’s going to be even tougher from this stage onwards.
Halep’s next opponent will be a veteran and two-time Grand Slam champion in Kerber. Kerber’s hatred for the outdoor clay has been well documented but surprisingly, she’s one of the three quarter-finalists that has not dropped a set in their matches so far. Kerber has been typically consistent in her previous rounds and has won all the important points in 7-6 7-6 and 6-2 6-3 wins respectively of Kiki Bertens and Caroline Garcia. Her performances though has just been solid and she’ll need to be much more spectacular and aggressive if she wants to beat Halep (well, unless Halep’s having an off day.)
Head to head: Halep leads the head to head 5-4, with their recent match-up an epic 6-3 4-6 9-7 Australian Open semifinal with the Romanian narrowly edging that one. The pair have only met once on clay, with Kerber (surprisingly!) winning that one 6-2 6-2.
Thoughts: The round of 16 matches didn’t deliver, so I’m really hoping that this will turn out to be a fun one! If you follow my Twitter you will know I’m a huge Kerber fan but it’ll take a lot out of her to come through this one. Kerber will need to execute a perfect gameplan, moving Halep side to side whilst occasionally popping in the dropshots and hitting back behind Halep. Even with that though, it may not be enough as Halep’s been moving so well and hitting with a lot of depth in her previous matches…
Final Prediction: Simona Halep d. Angelique Kerber in three sets
2.  Garbine Muguruza (No.3) vs  Maria Sharapova (No.30)
Muguruza barely hit a ball yesterday to book a ticket to the quarterfinals and is looking like a title contender at the moment. Muguruza’s fourth round opponent, Lesia Tsurenko, retired after two games and with that, she is another quarter-finalist who hasn’t dropped a set enroute to this stage. Muguruza’s French Open campaign reminds me of 2017 Wimbledon – prior to Wimby, her last outing was a 1-6 0-6 beatdown to Barbora Strycova in Eastbourne. Two weeks later, whilst completely under the radar, Muguruza stormed her way to her second Grand Slam title. Prior to RG this year, Muguruza had also suffered disappointing defeats to the Dashas in Rome and Madrid and came into this fortnight under the radar as well. So will it be a repeat of Wimbledon 2017? We’ll see…
Sharapova’s campaign thus far has been more complicated than Muguruza – she was down 0-3 in the decider against Richel Hogenkamp and was generally unclutch against Donna Vekic, but she came through both matches with her famous mental toughness and was finally able to produce her best tennis against Karolina Pliskova in the third round. Serena’s withdrawal from their fourth round clash has given Maria an extra day of rest and it would have definitely done her a world of good.
Head to head: Sharapova leads the head to head 3-0, but they have not met since 2014, where Muguruza had not made her big breakthrough yet. Two of their three meetings have come on a clay court.
Thoughts: Muguruza’s forehand has not been very good this week as she has been all year and if Maria does apply a lot of pressure on that wing, I think it could break down very quickly. The Russian has looked very sharp so Muguruza will need to play really good approach shots to successfully finish points up at the net. I’ll stick with my bracket champion, Sharapova, to come through this one in three sets.
Final Prediction: Maria Sharapova d. Garbine Muguruza in three sets
Thanks for reading! Roland Garros predictions can be found here!