SF previews and picks: Nishikori vs. Klizan, Monfils vs. Garcia-Lopez

Monfils dubsKei Nishikori and Martin Klizan will contest one of the two Barcelona semifinal matches on Saturday. In Bucharest, meanwhile, Gael Monfils and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez are battling for a spot in the final.

Barcelona: (1) Kei Nishikori vs. (14) Martin Klizan

Nishikori and Klizan will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they collide in the semifinals of the BRD Nastase-Tiriac Trophy on Saturday. Their only previous encounter came in round one of last year’s French Open, with Nishikori cruising 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-2. The world No. 5 should head into this match with plenty of confidence as the defending Barcelona champion in addition to a 24-5 record for his 2015 campaign. So far this week Nishikori has taken out Teymuraz Gabashvili, Santiago Giraldo, and Roberto Bautista Agut–dropping one set to Bautista Agut in the process.

An in-form Klizan booked his spot in the last four with victories over Juan Monaco, Victor Estrella Burgos, and Tommy Robredo. The 28th-ranked Slovak also surrendered just one set (to Monaco) en route. Klizan lost right away in Monte-Carlo to Viktor Troicki, but at that point he was coming off a title on the clay courts of Casablanca. The 14th seed can be tricky, but Nishikori looks extremely focused with a title defense on the line and he has not lost to anyone outside the current top 20 this season.

Pick: Nishikori in 2 losing 8-10 games

Bucharest: (5) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. (2) Gael Monfils

Garcia-Lopez has been somewhat of a 250-point specialist throughout his career–especially on European clay courts. Two of his four career titles have come in Kitzbuhel and Casablanca and he also has a runner-up finish at this BRD Nastase-Tiriac Trophy (2013). The 45th-ranked Spaniard is one win away from another ATP final after dismissing Lorenzo Giustino, Marcos Baghdatis, and Lukas Rosol earlier in the week. Garcia-Lopez, who is a solid 14-8 on the season, has not dropped a single set.

Up next for the No. 5 seed is a seventh meeting with Monfils. The 15th-ranked Frenchman leads their head-to-head series 4-2 at the ATP level, including 3-0 on clay. They most recently faced each other in the fourth round of Roland Garros last spring, when Monfils rolled 6-0, 6-2, 7-5. So far this week he has gotten past Mikhail Youzhny and Simone Bolelli in straight sets. Monfils is the favorite on paper, but Garcia-Lopez is extremely comfortable in Bucharest and will take additional confidence from two victories in his last four tries against Monfils.

Pick: Garcia-Lopez in 3

11 Comments on SF previews and picks: Nishikori vs. Klizan, Monfils vs. Garcia-Lopez

  1. Monfils in 3,though, as I type this, I am fairly certain I will jinx it. Still, Monfils is 4-0 against GGL on clay, having dropped just one of ten sets played.
    Monfils is straight up killing the game right now, it is time he put that world of talent to use.

  2. Klizan/Nishikori…………yawn-fest.

    When one looks at Nishikori’s joke of a draw it’s clear the ATP is desperately trying to give the young ones a leg-up in the hope of a smooth transition, commercial-wise, when the Big 4 finally hang up their racquets.

  3. As expected Nishikori will defend the title…I said it the other day…I also knew Ferri would fail…I watched some of his matches in Barcelona and he had inexplicable ups and downs…Nishi is a nice fellow…totally deserves to win…he is playing aggressive and very entertaining tennis…I agree though that his draw was ridiculous…

  4. I thing is obvious after this event you cant bet on Monfils to win even against a half decent player, he can beat a lot of players but he can also lose to anyone.

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