|French Open 2014|
|Tommy Robredo  (ESP)||vs||John Isner  (USA)|
ScheduleFriday, 30 May 2014 at 11:00 GMT / 12:00 UK / 16:30 IST
VenueCourt 1, Roland Garros
This is a third round tussle between Spanish counter-puncher and retriever Tommy Robredo, versus the man giant 6ft 10", 108 kg John Isner. On paper, it looks like your typical David and Goliath affair, and a one-sided affair at that, but Robredo hasn't gotten to the level he has by being overawed by physically bigger opponents. He has the record to prove it, and on many occasions, has been the last man to blink!
Both players have progressed through to the third round relatively unscathed. Robredo defeated British number two James Ward in their first round match in four sets, after losing the opening set 4-6. He took care of the equally tall Frenchman Kenny De Schepper (6ft 8”), winning comfortably in three sets, so that was good preparation and will set him up nicely for his clash with Isner later today.
Isner had a challenging first round match with Frenchman Pierre-Hugues-Herbert (ranked 130), getting by in three close sets 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-5. His second round match with Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin (conqueror of Isner's compatriot in the Guinness Book of Records – Nicolas Mahut in the first round), was also a close affair: 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4). Isner seems to be having problems putting some of these sets to bed early, as tie-breakers are quite prominent in his matches so far.
As far as 2014 goes, Isner had a great start to the year, winning in Auckland, but bowed out early in the Australian Open, losing to Martin Klizan in the first round. There were two good semi-final appearances on his favoured hard court surface: Delray Beach (lost to Maran Cilic) and the 1000 Event at Indian Wells losing to Djokovic. He's since made the round of 16 at three events, plus his lead up to the French Open saw a quarter final defeat against losing finalist Federico Delbonis at the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur.
Robredo's form has been average to good. No titles in 2014 so far, but he has made the round of 16 six times, including an Australian Open defeat to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka. His only notable event was Buenos Aires, making the semi finals (losing to Fabio Fognini). Tommy prefers to play on clay, his overall averages on that surface well above the average (68%).
Looking ahead to the next challenge on their side of the draw, looming in their sights will either be Czech Tomas Berdych or Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, who will also be meeting today over on Court 2.
Robredo and Isner have met once before, and that was way back at the start of 2010 in Auckland, Isner prevailing in a quarter final match there: 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4. Considering Isner's struggles on clay, and Robredo's preference for it, we could see Robredo trying to move Isner's big frame around, using mobility and touch to negate the American''s power game.
Both are seeded inside the top 20, so it won't be too big a surprise to see who wins, but I'll opt for Robredo's clay court experience to see him through in four, possibly five.