Miami R3 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Verdasco, Tsonga vs. Monfils

Rafa 5Rafael Nadal will be going up against a second consecutive Spaniard when he faces Fernando Verdasco on Sunday in Miami. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils are also aiming for a place in the fourth round.

(29) Fernando Verdasco vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Nadal and Verdasco will be squaring off for the 15th time in their careers at the ATP level when the two Spaniards clash in round three of the Miami Open on Sunday. The head-to-head series is being dominated 13-1 by Nadal, who has taken all six of their hard-court encounters. They most famously battled each other in the semifinals of the 2009 Australian Open, with Nadal surviving 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4. A more infamous meeting came two seasons later in Cincinnati, where Nadal scraped out a 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 7-6(9) victory. Verdasco, though, won their most recent tilt 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 on the clay courts of Madrid in 2012.

Nadal’s physical problems are reasons why they have not met in almost three years, but another factor is that Verdasco has not been advancing far enough in draws. The world No. 34 showed signs of being one and one in Miami, but he pulled out a rain-delayed match 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 over James Duckworth on Saturday. Nadal beat the bad weather on Friday, getting in his contest with Nicolas Almagro by cruising 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 29 minutes. The No. 2 seed generally underwhelms in Miami and Verdasco has not been playing poorly this spring, so it should not be entirely one-way traffic–nor will it be a thriller like Down Under in ’09.

Pick: Nadal in 2 losing more than 8-10 games

(17) Gael Monfils vs. (11) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Another showdown between compatriots will see Tsonga and Monfils go head-to-head for the sixth time in their careers at the ATP level. Tsonga leads the series 4-1 and all five of their previous collisions have come on hard courts. After losing their first two encounters, Monfils got some revenge in 2010 (Montpellier) only to down twice in a row again in 2012 (Doha) and 2013 (Tokyo).

A highly-anticipated matchup between two of the tour’s most exciting players was almost denied on Saturday. Both Frenchmen required three sets; Tsonga to get past Tim Smyczek and Monfils to outlast Filip Krajinovic (in a third-set tiebreaker). Both entertainers were up and down, although Tsonga was arguably the more impressive given that he was playing for the first time all season due to injury. The will to win should not be underestimated in this one and it is likely Tsonga who holds an edge in that department. Ranked 13th in the world but set to drop precipitously, Tsonga will be desperate for a victory–despite facing his good friend and Miami doubles partner.

Pick: Tsonga in 3

24 Comments on Miami R3 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Verdasco, Tsonga vs. Monfils

  1. Rafa’s struggles are definitely worrisome. He is literally surrendering out there and I have never seen him do that. His game can suffer but THIS is unprecedented given how consistently it is happening. he is extremely low on confidence and is not putting up the fights we are accustomed to seeing.

    On the other hand, his rivals are doing better and better. Federer is playing great tennis and has improved his aggressive tennis. Djokovic is the world’s best and looking too strong.

    It really is a very troublesome situation for Rafa. However, I am still convinced he will be back. Many here are saying they doubt whether even clay would do rafa any benefits. Well, it is a fact that the problem is in his head and it is not really about the court surface. But what really is the problem and what is probably the root cause?

    Problem is most probably that doubts >> certainties/confidence. Why? Well, we don’t really know what exactly is causing this but rafa is very honest so we can trust his assessment. He has lost the winning edge! he has just not won any important matches , any tough matches that give him the confidence he needs to reach the summit! The loss to Fognini was inexplicable in terms of losing the mental battle.

    I think rafa is physically fit and that is good. He is getting match tougher gradually so he can put in all his energy into improving. I think, the fact that he is so damn good on clay , will help him get more wins on clay. His opponents fear him a lot more, his game is less vulnerable on clay courts and the ‘feelings’ he will have on the courts he has conquered for ages will be quite different! he just needs some good quality wins , preferably where he does well under pressure.

    I am certainly not going to write him off. Losing match points against Raonic pushed him to an ebb but at least he has getting his game back.Clay will just give him just that extra time on his shots for him to get his ‘calm’ back slowly.

    He has enough time to build his game on clay but the real work will be done in competition. Rafa WILL BE BACK. Clay has been the magic potion for a decade . I know the situation is never-like-before but I am confident he will fix things up!

    • vamosrafa,

      I feel you! I appreciate your honesty and concern for Rafa’s predicament. The first step is to face and acknowledge what is happening, which is what Rafa did in his post-match press conference after the loss to Verdasco. As his fans, we also need to face it and acknowledge it and not stick our heads in the sand and pretend that it’s not happening.

      I absolutely agree that Rafa’s troubles are cause for concern. When he loses that edge, that certain something that made him a brick wall in the toughest moments of matches, that’s something to worry about. That’s part of his greatness.

      You did express your confidence that he will be back. I applaud your honesty and overall simple common human decency in all your comments.

      You are just expressing yourself and giving your thoughts about Rafa right now. It’s been just so agonizing to watch him like this, but I believe that he will get it all sorted out.

      Great champions find a way back and should never be written off!

  2. Just imagine, close your eyes and dream, that Rafa defends his RG title in an fairly easy matter, meaning: beating his opponent in the finals in straights without even facing a break point…given that Rafa will drop to the fifth place and it is unlikely for him to reach even No 3 by the time RG starts Rafa may as well run into Novak at much earlier stage and beat him…Again, imagine Rafa gets his confidence back along with his best game…imagine Rafa peaks by the time RG comes and deals in his own specific way with every opponent on tour…and they all again fear from him…
    so, having said this, imagine strong and confident Rafa doing great at Wimby reaching semis or finals…and then goes ahead and wins USO again…Rafa has no points to defend…Rafa may aim to reach his peak in May and then play his best tennis till the end of the year…just Imagine…Rafa will then easily be back to No1…
    so let us think positive…let us think that Rafa did not want to push hard in the first quarter of the season just to be able to give his best starting with clay season…and then to be rested and strong for the rest of the season…why not? This is still possible…
    I choose to cheer for my Rafa until the end…I chose to trust Uncle T saying that Rafa will be back…I chose to believe that we will all soon witness some of the best Rafa’s tennis…

    Vamos Rafa! I hope he knows how much his fans love him! 😛

  3. Here we go again!

    April 3, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Right, so-called “real” Rafans don’t write off Rafa! Why would anyone make a statement like this? Because this statement implies that there are “not real” Rafans!

    Why this divide and conquer sentiment has to creep into this site over and over again, I have no idea.

    Let people express their doubts, fears and worries about Rafa! For heaven’s sake! It does not mean that they are writing him off.

    Vamosrafa comes on here and tries to be realistic and honest. He’s not writing Rafa off. But it’s hard to watch him like this and anyone who says different is just kidding themselves!

    If people didn’t care about Rafa, then they would not care! It’s when you care that you bother to write and maybe go on a bit and analyze the problems and that’s a way for some to deal with it.

    We are all individuals and will process Rafa’s difficulties in our own unique way. That should be respected.

  4. April 3, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    I haven’t seen any real Rafans writing Rafa off.


    This was posted by you! You said it! So don’t drag other people into it. Own what you say!

    Do NOT tell me what I can or cannot do on this site! Stop lying about me attacking you and get rid of your victim complex once and for all!

    Right back at you! STOP, STOP, STOP!

      • Yes, hawkeye did say that! But he did NOT say what you said. You keep trying to wiggle out of what you are doing. I am not going to let you get away with it.

        At least hawkeye acknowledged that the ones who are quick to write him off, are his fans. He is not the one who is saying that “real Rafans”, whoever you might assume they are, will not write off Rafa.

        You are the one who is dividing Rafa fans into two camps. Those who are “real” according to your definition and maybe one or two other self-appointed “real” Rafa fans, and those who by your arbitrary definition are NOT so-called “real” Rafa fans, You don’t get to make that decision.

        So what hawkeye said was an observation while not deriding or insulting or attacking those Rafa fans as not being “real”.

        As I said, own what you say on here. You are not going to wiggle out of it. You wrote it.

      • Well said nny. According to the alleged perfect fan here, these real fans wouldn’t write him off by being relieved that Rafa would have made Federer fans happy if he didn’t lose to verdasco.:)

  5. I do not think that Rafa will go out without fighting. I am sure he does not want to leave the game as a loser and not what we know him to be. I think 2 big wins against top 5 players are all that Rafa needs and it will all come back then – the mental edge and the trust in himself.

    Maybe Fed will come to the rescue..Maybe Rafa will beat Fed once again in a tight match and it will get his confidence back 🙂

    natashao – Is that you giving all those images to your subconscious mind so that it goes to the universe and gets it for you..If yes, just 1 change, winning Wimby will be better than USO right 🙂

  6. By the way the way Novak is playing right now and winning is scary..If he wins Mimai which 95% he will, it will be scary to think he wom 1 slam and 2 Masters already in 3 months (:-..setting himself up for some real damage for the year.

    • ^^It could also be that he peaked too soon and could be setting himself up for a let-down as the year unfolds.

      Just saying…………..

  7. Rafa doesn’t need to win every tournament he enters any more. All he needs to do is add to his Slam count.

    It’s about the big jug for Rafa now, not the dinner plate. The important thing is he uses the smaller tournaments to fine-tune his game for the Slams. Australia 2015 was too soon after his come-back from injury to do any real damage.


  8. Novak has improved his serve quite a bit. He is blasting aces all over the place. He’s cut way down on those DF’s that were so troublesome to him, especially in 2013. It’s clear that he is playing well and gunning for RG. So what else is new?

    I don’t think he’s in unbeatable form, though. He has his ups and downs. What I will say is that he is able to raise his level of play and also keep it together while facing an opponent who is playing lights out, as was the case with Dolgo. He’s got the confidence and belief.

    However, Rafa is still the master of clay. We know that he is working and practicing to get himself back to his very best. I absolutely believe it will happen. He’s not going anywhere. We all know what RG means to him. So he will fight with everything he’s got to get his 10th title.

    I think Rafa fans should do whatever works for them. If someone chooses to visualize great victories, then that’s great. We are all individuals and handle it in our own way.

    For myself, I just want to see the Rafa who is at his best in the toughest, tightest moments of a match. Because if we see that Rafa, then we know that good things will follow! 🙂

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