Paris QF previews and picks: Djokovic vs. Murray, Berdych vs. Anderson

Djoker winsTwo extremely common matchups are part of Friday’s quarterfinal schedule in Paris. Upcoming World Tour Finals participants Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will collide, while Tomas Berdych hopes to continue his domination of Kevin Anderson.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (8) Andy Murray

Djokovic and Murray will be squaring off for the 23rd time in their careers and for the fourth time this season when they collide in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Masters on Thursday. The head-to-head series stands at 14-8 in Djokovic’s favor, including 12-6 on hard courts. Paris’ top seed has also won all three of their previous meetings in 2014. He prevailed 7-5, 6-3 in Miami, 7-6(1), 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-4 at the U.S. Open, and 6-3, 6-4 earlier this fall in Beijing.

The most recent loss was a rare fall setback for Murray, who is 20-2 since the conclusion of the year’s final Grand Slam. With titles in Shenzhen, Vienna, and Valencia to his credit, Murray officially clinched a spot in the World Tour Finals thanks to victories this week over Julien Benneteau and Grigor Dimitrov. Djokovic advanced to the last eight with straight-set defeats of Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils. This is the top-ranked Serb’s first tournament as a father and first since falling to Roger Federer in the Shanghai semifinals. Although Monfils put up an entertaining fight in the second set, Djokovic has not been seriously tested and may still show some signs of rust. On the other hand, nobody is more match-tough than Murray right now. That could be the difference in what promises to be a competitive affair.

Pick: Murray in 3

(5) Tomas Berdych vs. (14) Kevin Anderson

Berdych vs. Anderson is one of the most notorious matchups in tennis right now, and why not? The Czech is a well-documented 12-0 in the head-to-head series and all 12 of their encounters have come in a span of less than three years. Berdych and Anderson have faced each other “only” twice this season, with the scorelines reading 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 at the Australian Open and 6-1, 6-4 on the clay courts of Madrid. More than half of their matches have not been competitive, but they played a five-setter at the 2012 French Open and Berdych survived 7-5 in the fourth last summer at Wimbledon.

Anderson obviously cannot have any confidence heading into this one, but he can at least feel good about wins this week over Santiago Giraldo and No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka. Additionally, Berdych dropped his Valencia opener to Pablo Anduajar did not look convincing in his first two Paris rounds against Adrian Mannarino and Feliciano Lopez. That being said, these two big hitters feature similar styles and the problem for the South African is that Berdych can do all of the same things and do them all better. Anderson’s mental block in this situation will almost certainly be too much to overcome.

Pick: Berdych in 2

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