Murray Lines Up Nishikori; Nadal, Djokovic Featured Tuesday at French Open
by Staff | June 5th, 2017, 2:50 pm

World No. 1 Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori, and former champion Stan Wawrinka and former US Open champion Marin Cilic set up quarterfinal meetings on Monday with wins at the French Open.
Murray looked perhaps his best yet during the tournament, dismissing big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

“I think today was probably the best I have played overall,” Murray said afterwards. “It was difficult conditions. It was pretty windy out there. Each match I feel like I played better. I have hit the ball cleaner and started to see the right shots at the right moments. I’ve come a long way the last 10 days or so.”

His next opponent, the No. 8-seeded Nishikori, recovered from a dismal start to defeat unseeded Fernando Verdasco in a topsy-turvy meeting 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.

Coming off a five-setter, Nishikori looked exhausted from the first set but changed his fortunes around.

“I couldn’t do anything in the first set but I tried to play a little more heavy and a little more aggressive,” he said. “But still it was a really, really tough battle. There was so many long rallies. I don’t know how I got the second and third sets. The fourth, I played perfect tennis.”

The No. 3-seeded Wawrinka edged French favorite and No. 15 seed Gael Monfils 7-5, 7-6(7), 6-2, while Cilic benefited when opponent Kevin Anderson of South Africa retired trailing 3-6, 0-3.

“Gael and I have practiced a lot together, I was expecting a tough match. That’s how it proved,” Wawrinka told the crowd afterwards. “Gael has got a great forehand, he’s one of the best defenders on tour. I knew I had to impose my game on him and send a message that he was going to have to hang tough for three hours if he wanted to beat me.”

Anderson retired against Cilic with a leg injury.

“Apart from at the US Open in ’14, I’m definitely feeling the best on the court,” Cilic said. “Even then I didn’t go through the draw as comfortably as here.”

Matches on tap for Tuesday at Roland Garros are (4) Rafael Nadal vs. (20) Pablo Carreno Busta, and (2) Novak Djokovic vs. (6) Dominic Thiem.

You Might Like:
Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori Could Qualify For Semifinals Tuesday In London
Cilic, Nishikori Win Tokyo Openers; Murray, Nadal In Action Tuesday In Beijing
Novak Djokovic Does his Best Rafael Nadal Shakira [Video]
Andy Murray Has Short Day, Lines Up John Isner Next at French Open; Djokovic, Tsonga Saturday
Roger Federer, Andy Murray Open Play Sunday At London ATP Finals

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

26 Comments for Murray Lines Up Nishikori; Nadal, Djokovic Featured Tuesday at French Open

Tennis Vagabond Says:

When Stan starts talking about making opponents pay the price, he wins Slams.

The funny thing about this tourney, is that Rafa has absolutely dominated, steamrolling everyone in his path. But I bet his odds have gone down since Day 1, as his rivals are looking ‘better than expected’. Murray, Wawa and Novak were all nursing major slumps coming in (i know, i know, shingles, etc. the point is, the lack of winning, not whether its ‘fair’). They are really showing why they are the class of the tour. When push comes to shove, they are in the 2nd week and the flavours of the month are almost all gone. We may well have a Present Four semifinals.

(Present Four=the 4 of the Big Five who are present).

J-Kath Says:

Whether you agree with this article or not – I find the writers for this mag. worthy of consideration. Includes view of Nadal, Nole, Stan and Murray re. FO.

chrisford1 Says:

Ooooo boy oh boy, Rafa!!!
This could be a big ‘un. Rafa threatened umpire Carlos Ramos with never being allowed to work a Rafa match again for repeatedly calling Nadal on excessive length of time between points.

““When I finish a point on the fly, can’t I get my towel?” Nadal questioned Ramos, saying “with others yes I can, but never with you.”
“You will have to give me a lot of warnings during this game. Give me the warnings you can because you will not referee me any more ,” he told Ramos at the end of the match.

Rafa confirmed his threat at the press conference. Kind of a bad thing because the ATP has ordered all umpires to watch the clock because excessive time between points hurts a number of opponents that play best when the match is moving along. And obviously, trying to speed up the game to help ratings and ensuant revenue to the players and organization… The perception that tennis, like many sports has a different set of rules for superstars. And everyone points to Rafa as the worst offender.

There might be a big fine coming Nadal’s way.

chrisford1 Says:

TV – (Present Four=the 4 of the Big Five who are present).

There is no Big 5. There is barely a Big 4. There are 3 guys well in front of the present running pack, then a gap, then Andy. His perceived level of talent and results put him there. Andy with all his titles and consistent play is closer to the 3 guys in career success than gap between him and the guy behind him (Stan).

Dennis Says:

chrisford1: For all of his good points, this kind of stuff is my biggest pet peeve with Rafa, and makes him borderline unlikable. Flagrant abuse of rules regarding time between points. Not only is it un-sportsmanlike toward competitors, but most umpires are too intimidated by his aura to call him on it most of the time. This blatant intimidation of an umpire cannot be allowed to go unpunished by the federations that host the slams or by the ATP.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

This is at least the second time Rafa has pulled this. He did the same to Carlos Bernandes a year or two ago.

CF1, I agree with you in the big picture. My point is there are 4 big name multi-slam winners in the line-up (4 of the 5 men who have won all but 1 Slam since… Del Potro?) and we could well get those 4.

chrisford1 Says:

TV – Gotcha. Who wouldn’t put Wawrinka as a player with a chance to win due to his FO title two years ago??? And if he faces Nadal here, one of only 3 guys I think, who has handled pressure and beat Rafa in a Slam Final (AO-2014 as TV and everyone know)

Chunkspin Says:

Agreed. Given all of Rafa’s good qualities, the time violations and his attitude towards umpires who are only trying to enforce the rules, is hard to stomach. The rules are the rules and every player should be held to them for fairness of play. That his playing style might require more running and, therefore, benefit from more recovery time does not mean he should be allowed more time. And, to be fair, this does not only apply to him by any means. But it’s the one criticism I have of him: seemingly expecting the rules to be bent to favor his style of play rather than abiding by the rules. If his time violations were the exception after an unusually long point, the umpires would and rightly should make an exception but, when it’s the norm, he should receive warnings and be held to the rules of tennis.

Willow Says:

Chunkspin im a Rafa fan and i agree completely, but as you say there are plenty of other players guilty of the exact same thing, Cilbulkova was terrible in her matches, for me i always get scared he will lose an important point anyway, speed up Rafa come on ….

Tennis Vagabond Says:

You know Giles, for all the crap Uncle Tony gets from the experts here, its good to see him there by Rafa’s side during one of the greatest runs of his career.

Willow Says:

Yeah not saying Rafas a saint by any means when it comes to taking time, but to parrot a cliche, if you live in a greenhouse you shouldnt throw stones ….

Willow Says:

Tennis Vagabond your a gentlman, and i love reading your posts, even if sometimes i might not agree with them ….

I Also enjoy MMTs posts and really miss them, MMT where are you ? ….

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Thanks Willow. Always enjoy discussing tennis with you as well. Also miss MMT! (and Grendel, and Contador, and TennisFanSince76)

Willow Says:

^Thanks and me too :-) ^ ….

Armend Says:

@Chrisford, agree with you on the big five. It’s more of a big 3 plus two 0.25s at best (and I’m not saying 50 cents:).

We know that Fed, Nadal and Djokovic are going to be in the top 3 GOAT debate in two years time. While Murray and Wawrinka are not yet established in the top 30 GOAT debate.

Had Murray and Wawrinka played at a different time, they may have well had twice the number of GS titles, well at least Murray would, with the number of finals lost.

That brings me to another point, the GS finals record of Wawrinka is amazing, Murray’s is just not, still Murray’s persistence is to be valued.

@TV You forgot poor old Cilic as the last player to win a GS. In fact I think that he does stand a slight chance to win against Wawrinka, just because nobody really expects him to win at all. He would still make it a all GS winners circle semis, and while he is definitely more of a 0.05 material at this level, he may very well improve his position if he follows Wawrinka’s late trend to join the GS winners party.

To me Wawrinka vs Murray will be a great match, we’ll see who wants it more these days, especially as they are competing at that “other” big guys league.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Armend, I didn’t forget poor old Cilic, I said “all but 1” had been won by the Big-But-Not-Uniformly Successful-Five.

I’m also really hoping for a Stan/Andy semis.

veloce Says:

Armend, I hope Nishikori takes out Murray, cause Murray is just about the worse match-up for Wawrinka. All Murray does (and Novak too since we are at it) is defend, and run to no end hoping Wawrinka misses. But Murray plays Stan strategically better than Novak, cause Novak keeps sliding and feeding back Stan those kidn of shots that Wawrinka pretty much fall in Wawrinka’s wheelhouse. Murray, in comparison, uses a lot of slices that keep Wawrinka off balance, or worse, bait him into trying to blast the shit out of the ball, ending up in an unforced error. And Wawrinka gradually loses patience and falls apart. I’m hoping it will be a Wawrinka-Thiem match – let it be an all out kick-ass, offensive battle – had enough of the Novak/Murray ball-pushing erea…

Armend Says:

@TV my apologies, did not read that correctly at all. Yes, indeed you are right, and the Big-But-Not-Uniformly Successful-Five expression sounds just about right. And must admit that I very much agree on your odds insight, not that it is counter intuitive, but it’s not something that is obvious at all, given Nadal’s form as you say. But as another amended cliche goes, the cream rises to the top towards the end of the fortnight.

@Veloce, agree on your assessment of the Wawrinka vs Murray and Djokovic matchups. Wawrinka is 2-1 up on Murray on clay though, but the one loss was still at RG last year, so it definitely does not mean much of an advantage for Wawrinka on clay. I would still expect Wawrinka to pull through based on form, 8 or so clay match winning streak, and were he to face Nadal in the final, would actually give him a 40% chance of winning, as Nadal may have peaked too early, Wawrinka has the belief that he can beat him and most importantly has the power to hit through Nadal on clay, and again importantly, he has done it, and Nadal must fear the prospect, in fact, I would think that Wawrinka would be the least preferred player he would face in the final from the top part of the draw.

On the topics of matchups, those where one is an attacking player and the other is a defender are still fun to watch, I just don’t like to see two defenders battle it out. Must admit though that the sole exception is the Nadal/Djokovic rivalry, I get cramped and tired of sitting on my couch watching their 5 hour battles, but the rivalry is so intense and close that it is worth watching every minute of it.

I think that whoever is not a fan of a specific defender, has to agree that offensive tennis is much more exciting to watch. Never was much of a Federer fan, but have enormous respect for everything that he’s achieved. On the defense/offense topic, must admit that his style of play is much more attractive than the Djokovic/Murray defensive play.; Every rivalry of his with the other members of the Big 3.5 is fun to watch (well, except maybe the one with Nadal, although progress has been noted recently there:)

Come to think of it, would absolutely love to see the SABR in Wimbledon, the guy’s doing it at 35+, that is just amazing.

veloce Says:

Armend, thanks for your comments… I tend to agree in your estimation that deep down, the one person Nadal doest not want to see on the other side of the net is Wawrinka, after all, as you say, he was not only beaten Nadal on clay, but has the potential to blow him of the court. I remember a tennis announcer, when Wawrinka was demolishing Nihshikori at the AO, saying something along the lines off.. “at the very top of his level, Wawrinka is simply unplayable”. I agree, also, that contrasting styles make for an interesting match, my favorite being Wawrinka-Novak. And agree 100% that the Novak/Murray matchup is about the worse thing you coudl ever watch on TV. If you dont believe me watch their AO Final. the lack of creativity and timid shotmaking was truly horrendous…

Daniel Says:

Also, we pretty much will never see a Fedal on clay ever again. So Fed will have many more chances to play Nadal in his preferable surfaces assuming Nadal doesn’t burn out (he may skip a few tourneys) but looks as healthy as ever. Any match they play after RG this year Fed is favorite. And first part of the season next year is hard to see Federer replicating the AO/IW/Miami combo again. These are the only 3 tournaments they may play again in 2018 in first half of the season.

Not that Federer will ever change that HxH but it may end up a respectable one, they are currently at 23-14 and something like 24-16, 26-18 or even 25-20 is not impossible at this point. If they play 3-4 more times this year on faster courts Nadal may get one win, if any.

Grass they can only pay Wimby as Nadal won’t play Stuttgart and will play Queens (maybe) and not Halle. Than Cincy, USO, Shangai, Paris and WTF. WTF is almost certain they will clash one more time with both assured to qualify, if neither skips.

chrisford1 Says:

Veloce – I agree Wawrinka on those rare days he is zoning it is able to win it. Even with Rafa and Nole and Fed..But he isn’t near as consistent as those three, that is Stan’s curse.
As for Rafa, the only player he’s admitted to fearing, hating to play, is Djokovic. Even with Rafa also saying Fed is the best. He can be very honest and unguarded and authentic. That is one of Rafa’s appeals
Same interview in 2012 where he says Fed is better than him and how much he enjoys their (by then lop-sided rivalry) he was asked if he also looked forward to fighting Djokovic. Rafa said that no, he is not stupid, he doesn’t look forward to Nole. “He is a nightmare for me”.
In another interview, Rafa said that Djokovic is the only player that he and Uncle Toni had to significantly alter their game plan for. “Uncle Toni fears him the most on clay against me and on hardcourt my only chance is to be mentally stronger the day we play, which isn’t easy, as the results have shown these last few years, no?”

Van Persie Says:

Agree with CF!, Wawa cannot trouble Rafa very much, especially on clay, as he can trouble Djoko. Am sure, Rafa would prefer to play Wawa, than Nole.

Van Persie Says:

From the Big 4, the only guy, who does not like to play Wawa in the big matches, is Nole.

veloce Says:

Van Persie/Chrisford1: you both make good points, most definitely the one guy Nole does not want to see if an in-form Wawrinka. But I still think, that not only Wawrinka, but we can start to include Thiem in that small group, when these 2 are at teh very top, they have the potential to blow anybody off the court. The thing is that both Wawrinka and Thiem bring such an extremely aggressive and powerful game that unforced-errors are part of the natural game-style, so they could also lose big. I gotta say, the way Thiem played Novak in their quarterfinal today, was almost exactly a mirror image of how Wawrinka plays Novak. Thiem even adopted the standard Wawrinka stance of close-to-baseline on 1st serve, and stand/back and rip on 2nd serve. That was his downfall when he last played Novak – he was standing way too far behind, even more so than Wawrinka usually does and thats saying a lot.

Top story: Novak Djokovic On Serbian Team For ATP Cup; Australian Open A Go?