Mladenovic takes on Muguruza
Originally published on 03/06/17 00:00
Mladenovic, who turned 24 last month, is a few months older than her Spanish counterpart, but the pair have the talent and firepower necessary to remain at the forefront of the sport for the foreseeable future.
It has been an emotional and strained path into the last 16 for the Frenchwoman, who has been nursing a back injury and she battled back from the brink to defeat Shelby Rogers in the third round.
It remains to be seen if Mladenovic, who has never reached the quarter-finals in Paris, has the fitness necessary to take out a top class operator, but her legions of fans inside the atmospheric Suzanne-Lenglen Court will try to play a pivotal role once again.
Muguruza has also taken the scenic route into the last 16 but she has slowly found her rhythm and range. The 23-year-old has been impressed with her latest opponent and said: "This year she is very talented, her confidence has gone up. She's had quite a lot of wins and she is also at home. But maybe, you know, playing at home is a double-edged sword."
The big-hitting Spaniard will not waver from her unrelenting attacking approach and she will look to dominate her opponent’s second serve. Mladenovic has hit an eye-watering 24 double-faults in the tournament so far, and it’s an area of weakness.
Elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki will look to find a way to defeat the 2009 champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Venus Williams will continue her quest to bag a first French Open title against Timea Bacsinszky.
In the men’s draw, the irresistible Rafael Nadal will take on fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The pair have met just once before – on clay in Madrid in 2014 – and it was a routine win for the nine-time French Open winner.
“Rafa is playing his best tennis at present on clay,” admitted Bautista Agut. “What I will try and do is play my tennis, be aggressive, and I will try and play fast, and then we will see what happens. It is going to be very complicated.”
Djokovic was erratic and distracted in his arduous five-set win over Diego Schwartzman and he will need to be careful against his next opponent, Albert-Ramos-Vinolas. The Serbian has a 100% winning record against the Spaniard however he will need to up his level considerably if he wishes to avoid another war of attrition against the No.19 seed who was a surprise finalist in Monte Carlo.
Milos Raonic versus Pablo Carreno Busta and Dominic Thiem against Horacio Zeballos are the other fourth round matches being played.