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PARIS PREDICTIONS From Tour Coach & Prince Ambassador Paul Annacone

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We made it through the fun-filled first week on the Paris clay and there is a still lot of great tennis ahead.  The second week becomes more about handling pressure and the situation & less about the tennis.  The most poised and mature players tend to find ways to win. The talent level obviously matters, but now we are down to the final 8…who will deal with the adversity, who will grab the opportunity, who will rise to the occasion?  These are the big questions and the defining points that make good players great or keep good players from becoming great.

I am loving the possibilities on the Women’s side.  It was terrific to see Sloane Stephens get to the round of 16 in her 6th consecutive Grand Slam—the next hurdle is to push on from here.  It was a tough day against Simona Halep.  Halep showed why she has climbed to #4 in the world.  She is a very good competitor who manages her game very well.  I am happy to see Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter finals with a good win today.  I think she will struggle against Simona who I believe has too much of an arsenal for her.  What a great day for Andrea Petkovic…to see her climb back to the quarter finals of a Grand Slam after battling injury is a great sight!  She will have a big task against Sara Errani who is very skilled on the clay.

My women’s singles quarterfinal predictions are:

Muguruza vs. Sharapova: Similar styles of play- I think Maria has too much experience and will find her way through this.

Suarez Navarro vs. Eugenie Bouchard: While Suarez Navarro is an excellent clay court player, I think the firepower of Bouchard will get her into the semi–finals.

Simona Halep vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Halep has too many weapons and too much confidence – she will get past Svetlana.

Andre Petkovic vs. Sara Errani: The clay court knowledge will get Sara past Andrea.

The men have some enticing match-ups as well!  Andy Murray did a good job to get past Kohlschreiber in a two day marathon & followed it up with a solid win against Verdasco.  Now he plays hometown hero Gael Monfils, matching two tremendous athletes with great defensive skills.  It will be interesting to see this game of cat & mouse and to see who is more able to “finish points”, keep their composure and clarity stable in a very exciting atmosphere.  Rafa was Rafa & stopped Lajovic’s nice run here on the clay in Paris.  It will be terrific to see David Ferrer play Rafa.  He did upset Rafa earlier in the spring on the clay, so that will give him big confidence going in to this match…but it is Rafa and we are in Paris.  Big hitting Ernst Gulbis will try to back up his great performance versus Roger Federer against Tomas Berdych - this will be a battle of the power players.  Finally, Novak Djokovic takes on Milos Raonic in his first quarterfinal appearance in a Grand Slam.

My men’s singles quarterfinal predictions are:

Nadal – Ferrer:  While David is a great player and competitor, I don’t think he has the weapons to take Rafa down over 5 sets on clay.

Murray – Monfils:  I think Andy will find his way through a very difficult crowd and match—but will get past Gael.

Berdych – Gulbis:  Ernst had his big tournament win and the hangover and Berdych’s firepower will be too much.

Djokovic - Raonic:  Milos has the serve, but that won’t be enough to take down the best returner and defender in the world - Djoko will come through.

It has been a great event thus far and the 6 remaining days will be filled with excitement, drama and pressure.  I am looking forward to seeing who handles adversity the best—and who carries the French crowns home for 2014.