Saturday, May 29, 2004
Expect Coria to play Moya next
By MaliVai Washington Special to ESPN.com
PARIS -- After Gustavo Kuerten upset top seed Roger Federer on Saturday, no one in the draw at the French Open looks able to defeat No. 3 Guillermo Coria.
Carlos Moya (5), Spain, vs. Tommy Robredo (17), Spain
Moya and Robredo -- as countrymen, friends and practice partners for years -- know each other's games. Robredo has the ability to win this match against Moya. However, Moya so convincingly won his last two matches, it seems unlikely he would lose to anyone left in the draw other than Coria or Kuerten.
Moya still will have to play a very good match against Robredo, who won't be intimidated because he does know Moya so well.
Moya and Robredo are at home on red clay. This is what they live for and winning Roland Garros, a second time for Moya and a first time for Robredo, would a dream come true. Pick: Moya in four setsNicolas Escude, France, vs. Guillermo Coria (3), Argentina
This matchup will actually be one of the most exciting in the fourth round because Coria is arguably the best player on clay and Escude is an exquisite shotmaker.
The talented Frenchman can come up with some surprising results and wins. He'll certainly have the crowd support on Court Philippe Chatrier. But Escude can't win this match. Pick: Coria in four setsMichael Llodra, France, vs. Tim Henman (9), Great Britain
By reaching the fourth round here, Tim Henman has now accomplished that level at all four majors. He now faces an amazing opportunity, playing against Llodra, to reach the quarterfinals.
If Henman could have picked his draw prior to the tournament, he couldn't have picked a better fourth-round matchup. That's not to take anything away from Llodra because he is a quality player. However, he's one of the best doubles players in the world, not one of the best singles players in the world.
Though Llodra is very comfortable on clay, he plays very much like Henman, who is more comfortable on grass. The Briton plays an aggressive style in order to end points quickly. Henman plays that style as well as anyone in the game, and he plays it better than Llodra. Pick: Henman in four setsJuan Igancio Chela (22), Argentina, vs. Olivier Mutis, France
My head tells me that Chela will reach the quarterfinals instead of Mutis. But the tenacity that Mutis showed in his victory against Andy Roddick makes me believe this guy is for real.
When you're playing the No. 2 player in the world and are down two sets to one and still find a way to regroup, it says a lot about your desire to win. He impressed me with his mentality that seemed to say, "I don't care who I'm playing, and I don't care that I've lost the last two sets. I'm going to win this match."
That mindset will win him a lot of matches in his career. The crowd support might even be that intangible factor that Mutis needs to reach his first quarterfinal. Pick: Mutis in five setsMaliVai Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.