Let’s keep this party bus rolling into the business-end of the tournament. We have big-time top-seeded match-ups as we’ve reached the final eight.
Murray v Nishikori
This leans Murray because he’s gaining confidence, having survived his draw. I would call his a decent draw with the Klizan FH, the gentle giant DPo and a rising talent in Khachanov who we love to see make a R16 in a major at 21. Murray’s isn’t the most compelling argument, but he’s here.
Nishikori has to be feeling the wear-and-tear of the clay. He survived a five-setter in R3 with the help of a rain-delay, but was able to bounce-back and beat the dangerous Verdasco in R16. If Nishikori has all of his weapons in tow, can find the energy and Chang’s winning words of wisdom, we might have a classic. Nishikori, as we know, has potential; his tennis can be lethal.
But we’ll go with the more reliable Brit who appears to have found that bridesmaid outfit (make me eat those words, Murray!).
Wawrinka v Cilic
The easy pick here is Stan, because of his game (though he looked a little troubled by Monfils), his history deep into major draws, his history on clay (a Masters and a major) and his H2H v Cilic: 11-2. Stan seems the obvious pick.
However, Cilic looks fit, getting up well to the too-common drop-shot and defending better (ROS). We know of Cilic’s unplayable, rampant form. Could this be another case of that rare bird?
The problem with this match-up is if Stan, at worst, just stays in the match, he has the fortitude to go long and nasty. Marin’s best chance is probably to hit the Swiss off the court. A tall order. Both seem to have a lot in the tank, so this should be entertaining with Stan continuing to fulfill our dreams.
Nadal v Carreno Busta
Pablo has beaten Dimitrov and Raonic along the way, but this should be a clay clinic from his countryman, a raging bull who seems to have his eyes on a much bigger prize than even La Decima. Nadal is aiming to get off the court, to destroy and bury the evidence. He’s probably respecting his opponent here as he says he respects them all, but even the clay king is susceptible to a little peak behind the curtain (at the looming semi-final).
Djokovic v Thiem
The smart pick based on experience and legacy, on H2H and recent play is Djokovic. I would call this a bigger upset if Thiem wins than if Djokovic beat Nadal. Djokovic is going to be a very difficult out especially if he’s hitting the ball well. If his unforced error numbers are down, look-out.
But if Thiem can continue to murder the ball from the baseline, with his added dimension of more DTL, Djokovic could be in for a long brutal match. Look at the highlights of Thiem’s Zeballos match, for instance. I am sure that his camp worked on more DTL from both wings. The inside-out FH, and the more unpredictable direction of the shot, along with his big serve and decent mobility all add-up to a player on the rise in this sport.
I beliem in Thiem, but he needs a bit of that Chokovic to show-up, become angry and errant to advance to a date with Nadal in the SF.
Bottom-line is this could be a whale of a match. Let’s hope so.