PARIS – The bottom half of the draw is littered with surprises, except of course, for last year's finalist Guillermo Coria, and this year's Australian Open champion the ultra-talented and ultra-entertaining Russian Marat Safin.
Guillermo Coria (8), Argentina, vs. Nikolay Davydenko (12), Russia
Davydenko, a very good dirt-baller, takes on Coria, a clay-court genius. Even if it is straight sets, these road runners will get plenty of court time. Another step for Coria on his way back to the final.
Pick: Coria in three sets
Tommy Robredo (15), Spain, vs. Marat Safin (3), Russia
Safin won the match of the tournament (so far) in the third round over Juan Carlos Ferrero. No one was talking about Safin coming into the tournament, and he has been playing with a chip on his shoulder. That's dangerous for his opponents.
This match is simple: It's all in Safin's hands. With Robredo you know what you get – consistency –. He's been in at least the fourth round in four of the past five years but only once to the quarterfinals.
The good Marat will post a win.
Pick: Safin in four sets
Nicolas Kiefer (28), Germany, vs. Guillermo Canas (9), Argentina
The always tough Argentine takes on the versatile German. Kiefer's attacking game has been more effective on hard courts, so this has been a great run for him. But it ends here.
Kiefer's serve and volley tactics will be blunted by Canas' solid return and ground game. Maybe Kiefer can jump out early and steal a set, but I doubt it.
Pick: Canas in three sets
Mariano Puerta, Argentina, vs. Jose Acasuso, Argentina
This battle of unseeded Argentines is simply the biggest match of their lives. Acasuso showed his talent and down-the-line backhand in his come-from-behind victory over Andy Roddick. But the lefty Puerta has been pummeling the opposition with his physical ground game. Tenacity and endurance win out over talent in this one.
Pick: Puerta in four sets
Here are the remaining top half picks after Sunday's rain delay.
Rafael Nadal (4), Spain, vs. Sebastien Grosjean (23), France
"Rafa" dismissed the young French hopeful Gasquet in straight sets. Now he gets the always tough veteran Frenchman Grosjean. If Grosjean can get his forehand and the crowd going early on, he can win a set. But that's it ... a set. Nadal continues to roll toward his showdown with Federer.
Pick: Nadal in three sets
David Ferrer (20), Spain, vs. Gaston Gaudio (5), Argentina
The unheralded Spaniard Ferrer has had a quietly impressive year, but Gaudio is defending his title with aplomb. It will take awhile as these two are built to go the distance. Gaudio's backhand will be the difference as he wins a tough four setter.
Pick: Gaudio in four sets
Patrick McEnroe, a tennis analyst for ESPN, is a former professional player and the Davis Cup captain.