Djokovic, Nadal braced for stiff challenges from Sousa, Haase

Day Four at Roland Garros sees Novak Djokovic square off with João Sousa, Rafael Nadal lock horns with Robin Haase and the wild women’s draw continue.

Day three at Roland Garros was quite some spectacle. The host nation enjoyed their best day yet as the local players won six of the nine matches they featured in.

French fans will not have slept well though as they will be sweating on the survival of Joe-Wilfried Tsonga. The country’s number one player continues his battle with Renzo Olivo on Wednesday. He trails 2-1 and is serving to stay in the match in the fourth stanza.

Elsewhere in the men’s draw it was mostly plain sailing for the top seeds. Nick Kyrgios, Juan Martin Del Potro, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray all won their matches – although the latter was forced to work extremely hard to get past Andrey Kuznetsov.

The upset of the day was the exit of Alexander Zverev. The youngster beat Djokovic in Rome and was tipped to announce himself in grand slam tennis at Roland Garros this year but it wasn’t to be as Fernando Verdasco got the better of him in four sets.

The real drama took place in the women’s draw though. World number three, Karolína Plíšková, suffered a shock defeat to world number 260, Chloe Paquet. Pacquet was roared on by rapturous home support that certainly influenced the match.

Jo Konta’s woes on clay continued as she crashed out in the first round of Roland Garros for the third consecutive year. The Briton, and eighth best player in the women’s game, is yet to win a match in the main draw in Paris.

Looking ahead to the fourth day of action, Djokovic and Nadal will be where most eyes turn to.

The Serb’s meeting with Sousa will serve as a further test to see if Djokovic’s partnership with Andre Agassi will trigger a return to grand slam glory for the former world number one.

Speaking on Monday after his victory over Marcel Granollers, Djokovic said Agassi is tinkering with his approach to tennis rather than reconstructing it.

“So far plenty of information, plenty of things to kind of process,” Djokovic said Monday of the new collaboration.

“It’s more about the mind-set, the approach, because, you know, I feel that the game that I have has gotten me to where I am for a reason, and he feels that my game is very much at a good place.

“It’s just matter of fine-tuning it in the right way.”

Haase is expected to give Nadal everything he has but everything he has is not expected to be enough for the full-hearted Dutchman.

After a minor blip in his clay court season in Rome two weeks ago where he lost to Dominic Thiem, Nadal dismantled Benoit Paire on Monday to remind everyone just how good he is on this surface.

Someone who certainly does not reminding of his prowess on clay is Kyrgios. The outspoken Australian described ‘The King of Clay’ as unbeatable in Paris this year.

“Nadal, I don’t think he’s worried at all about anyone in this tournament, to be fair,” Kyrgios said of the Spaniard.

“Best of five, it suits him. He knows he’s not going to lose. Let’s be realistic.

“Rafa on clay, his dominance right now is as big as it’s ever been.”

In the women’s draw, Venus Williams will really start to fancy her chances of claiming her eighth grand slam and first Roland Garros title if she can get past Japan’s Kurumi Nara.

Williams’ experience on the big stage and ability to handle pressure seem like valuable attributes in a women’s draw that has been extremely volatile so far.

However, she insists that she is simply looking after her game and is paying no attention to other results.

“I want to play the kind of tennis that’s consistent and aggressive, inspired,” Williams said.

“That’s my goal, really, every match.

“What other players are doing, I have got to be honest, I don’t watch so closely.

“I just try to understand what can I accomplish. And then after that, I go home.”

Other matches worth keeping tabs on are Garbine Muguruza vs Anett Kontaveit, Dominka Cibulkova vs Ons Jabeur, and Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Océane Dodin.

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