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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Diego Schwartzman could make Nadal pull out the stops

Del Potro likely to defeat Cilic and nail place in semi-finals

Diego Schwartzman overcame a slow start to defeat Kevin Anderson in round four
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ITV4 and Eurosport 1 & 2, from 12.30pm Wednesday

Nadal v Schwartzman
Rafael Nadal has made light of two players who wilt in his presence in the French Open, but has been made to dig deeper by two opponents who tried their best to take the game to him.

Guido Pella, a huge under­achiever, and Richard Gasquet, who is virtually past caring when sharing a court with the Majorcan, were summarily swept aside.

However, Simone Bolelli and, to a degree, Max Marterer caused more problems for the top seed in rounds one and four and that should give hope to Diego Schwartzman that the Argen­tinian battler could be competitive against the 32-year-old title favourite.

Since their initial meeting in 2013 Schwartzman has managed to win at least three games in every set he has contested against Nadal and encouragingly three of those 11 sets have gone to either 12 or 13 games.

Schwartzman is 8-11 with a ten-game start and while Nadal is in generally good form, that could still be worth taking.

D Schwartzman +10 games
1pt 8-11 Betway

Cilic v Del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro is more than capable of winning the French Open, but so far in his career he has had eyes only for Wimbledon, which starts a few weeks after Roland Garros ends.

Because of that, the Argentinian number one has been frustrating to support in Roland Garros outright markets. That could change, but Del Potro has come up short so often on the Paris clay that many of his regular backers are likely to be past caring with him.

The best advice with Del Potro in Paris can only be to take it one match at a time. And if his straight-sets victory over John Isner is anything to go by, he ought to have too much for Marin Cilic, another whose primary focus is on the grass Slam.

Delpo is 4-7 for victory and that's acceptable considering he is a better player than the Croat and leads his opponent 10-2 in their personal series.

J M del Potro
1pt 4-7 general

Halep v Kerber
Angelique Kerber had a bonus when Caroline Garcia effectively failed to turn up in the last 16, but that’s not likely to happen with Simona Halep.

The Romanian top seed is playing well and while she's far from unbeatable, clay is probably her best surface.

Two-time Grand Slam champ Kerber upsetting the odds cannot be ruled out but Halep, who is looking to play more aggressively on court, appears to hold the aces.

The favourite looks a little short to win the match, so in the likeli­hood that she triumphs it may be worth chancing that she successfully concede a start of 2.5 games on the handicap.

S Halep -2.5 games
1pt 8-13 Coral

Muguruza v Sharapova
Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova both had mid-tournament bonuses in round four when their opponents either retired after a couple of games or withdrew injured, so there should be little excuse regarding fatigue when the pair clash for a semi-final berth.

Sharapova has won all three of their meetings and will have been boosted by dropping only three games against Karolina Pliskova in round three, but as a former Roland Garros champion 2016 clay queen Muguruza should now have sufficient self-belief that she can come through a tough match.

Muguruza won the first set in her two latest defeats to the Siberian and while Sharapova could still be a title threat, the Spaniard should now be able to claim her scalp for the first time.

G Muguruza
1pt 4-5 general

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The Romanian top seed is playing well and clay is probably her best surface
E.W. Terms
Sky bet