Even though Roger Federer lost and Novak Djokovic didn’t show up, it’s still quite a line-up Friday in the Madrid quarterfinals.
After an incredible Wednesday of tennis, things calmed down decidedly today with “only” three of the eight third round men’s matches going the distance, and none of them beyond 5-all in a fairly form-fitting day.
If there was a surprise it was maybe was Grigor Dimitrov knocking out Stan Wawrinka in three 7-6, 3-6, 6-3. Neither guy has played up to their 2014 level this year, with Wawrinka now just 3-5 since his February Rotterdam title while Dimitrov has struggled against the best.
“It was a tough match,” said Dimitrov who also beat Stan last month in Monte Carlo. “He was up a break in the first set and he was playing good tennis, much, much better than when we played in Monte-Carlo. Today, what I think I did really well was to keep a good composure throughout the whole match. I was playing solid tennis, even though, occasionally, he was just outplaying me and over-powering me.
“I exploited his weak spot, which was his forehand, and he missed a couple of times, which gave me the confidence. After breaking in the third set, I felt really comfortable to step in and win the match and I think that’s the best thing I did today.”
A day after his incredible win over Federer, Nick Kyrgios couldn’t keep the momentum, succumbing to big John Isner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-4. Kyrgios actually double faulted on match point to put the American in the quarters.
“For sure he’s a little bit tired. He made the finals last week (in Estoril) and had that incredible match last night against Roger,” said Isner. “He had expended a lot of energy, whereas I was feeling great, the best I’ve felt all week. I feel awesome. The serving conditions were out of this world on that court.”
Only 20, it’s never easy backing up a big victory like beating Federer. Kyrgios will now get his French Open seeding, and he’s certainly someone to look out for.
Isner now gets the Tomas Berdych who had no trouble throttling JW Tsonga.
Four-time champion Rafael Nadal breezed past Simone Bolelli. After a late finish, Andy Murray showed no hangover signs today in cruising Marcel Granollers and David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori advanced to a quarterfinal meetings.
“I wanted to try and start the match with as much energy as possible, and if I could, get off to a lead early,” said Murray. “Obviously, he played a very long match yesterday [versus Gael Monfils], so I felt like if I could get ahead that I would be able to use that momentum well. It would also give me a bit of a lift really.”
So the quarterfinals are set, here’s the line-up:
Rafael Nadal v Grigor Dimitrov
I think Dimitrov pushes Nadal but Rafa is too strong in the end. Rafa leads the Bulgarian 5-0 but we know Nadal just hasn’t been himself this year, so anything is possible when he plays these days.
“Everything worries me about Dimitrov,” said Nadal. “He’s a very good player. The only way to beat him is to play at really high level. I think he has had more difficult matches than me this week. That’s an advantage for him. Let’s see what happens. I hope to be ready for it, but I know Dimitrov is a fantastic player and a player that can win against everybody. Great talent.”
And we know Grigor isn’t short on confidence. In fact he’s already predicting a great performance!
“I know what to expect from him and we all know what I’m going to put out there on the court, which is going to be a great performance,” said Dimitrov. “It’s one of those days where I really want to be out there on the court, playing against him on clay. I feel like I have been playing good tennis, so why not go out there and have fun, but at the same time, I know why I’m out there.”
All Uncle Toni has to do is make Rafa read that quote over and over…
Kei Nishikori v David Ferrer
I picked Nishikori not just to win this rematch, but to go on and win this title. So I think Kei gets him here. Nishikori leads Ferrer 7-4 winning five of their last six – Ferrer won in Acapulco – including Madrid win a year ago.
For me, almost 10 years his junior, Nishikori is just a better, more offensive version of Ferrer.
Tomas Berdych v John Isner
Is anyone playing as consistently well as Tomas Berdych this year? OK, that’s Djokovic, but then there’s the Czech who quietly just goes about his business. And Berdych has dominated his next opponent, Isner, leading the American 6-2 winning the last four including nine straight sets, all without even a tiebreak!
Berdych’s big frame negates Isner’s serve, and from there it’s just Tomas moving John around the court until he gets an opening.
Andy Murray v Milos Raonic
Hard to gauge these two as neither prefer the red clay. Raonic is playing well after injury, as is Murray who just won his first clay title last Sunday.
Raonic leads 3-2 including a win in their lone clay meeting at Barcelona three years ago. But Murray beat him most recently at the ATP finals and somehow, for some reason I’ll go with the Scot here.
Tennis Channel has complete coverage.
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