Miami R4 previews and picks: Monfils vs. Dimitrov, Nishikori vs. Bautista Agut

An entertaining affair should be in the cards when Gael Monfils and Grigor Dimitrov battle for a place in the Miami quarterfinals on Tuesday. A wide-open half of the draw also features Kei Nishikori and Roberto Bautista Agut.

(16) Gael Monfils vs. (26) Grigor Dimitrov

Monfils and Dimitrov will be facing each other for the fifth time in their careers when they clash in round four of the Miami Open on Tuesday. The head-to-head series stands at 3-1 in favor of Monfils, who has actually been even more successful against Dimitrov than the 3-1 mark suggests. Dimitrov’s lone victory came via retirement on the clay courts of Bucharest in 2014, and Monfils is 8-0 lifetime in completed sets between the two showmen. The Frenchman prevailed 7-5, 7-6(6), 7-5 at the 2014 U.S. Open and 6-1, 6-3 last spring in Monte-Carlo.

Twenty spots below his career-high ranking at No. 28 in the world, Dimitrov is in dire need of a deep run at a marquee tournament. The Bulgarian lost right away in Indian Wells to Alexander Zverev, but his Miami campaign has been highlighted by a 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-3 upset of second-seeded Andy Murray on Monday. Dimitrov, who beat Federico Delbonis in a long three-setter this past Saturday, trailed Murray 3-1 in the decider before winning the last five games of the match. A focused and efficient Monfils disposed of both Tatsuma Ito and Pablo Cuevas without any fuss to reach the last 16. The world No. 16 is in complete control of his game right now and Dimitrov may be hard-pressed to follow up such a big win–especially given his recent inconsistency.

Pick: Monfils in 2

(6) Kei Nishikori vs. (17) Roberto Bautista Agut

Nishikori and Bautista Agut will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers on Tuesday. All three of their previous encounters have gone Nishikori’s way, but they have never faced each other on hard courts (all on clay). Japan’s No. 1 player prevailed in three sets at the 2014 Barcelona event, again in three at the same tournament in 2015, and via a 6-3, 6-3 decision last spring in Madrid.


Fast forward almost a full year and Bautista Agut is now one of the hottest players on tour. The 18th-ranked Spaniard is 18-5 with two titles this season and so far in Miami he has taken out Aljaz Bedene and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Bautista Agut got a retirement from Bedene while leading 7-5, 2-2 before outlasting Tsonga 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) on Monday. Nishikori has advanced with straight-set defeats of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Alexandr Dolgopolov. The world No. 6 is 13-3 in his last 16 matches at this event and he has reached at least the quarterfinals on two straight occasions (semis in 2014). Combine his Miami prowess with his previous success against Bautista Agut and a hard-fought win for Nishikori should be in store.

Pick: Nishikori in 3

20 Comments on Miami R4 previews and picks: Monfils vs. Dimitrov, Nishikori vs. Bautista Agut

  1. Certainly some great match ups. Can’t wait to get home after work and watch a few of them. On that note… I’ll go Kei in 2 and Monfils in 3

    • May the strongest one win, hawk! (Kei v RBA) Kei looked terrible his last match. Like Aga – on her last leg. Kei was doubling up in pain after each point in the 2nd set. Gassed in the heat/humidity is my guess. RBA’s da man.

      Dimi’s has to be feeling like master of the universe – hoping Gael can do something about it!

      • Nah, night match and forecast to be in the mid-70s. No sun.

        Nish-at-Nite is the pic.

        Some Spaniards don’t do so well at night. (sometimes not so much in the day either.)

  2. La Monf wins. Grigor again with a missed chance. Up 15-40 at 3-3 and just went away after that. Won like two points from that position to the end of the match. Disappointing. Big for Monfils though. A Kyrgios/Monfils matchup is thankfully still possible.

  3. Kei vs Roberto moved to grandstand because of backed up schedule. Can’t watch that cuz I have lots of hw to do but it should be interesting to see how that one goes. My pick is Kei in straights but RBA never goes away.

  4. Great match by Gael ! He finally showed his emotions at the end of the third set and it worked wonders ! Totally deserved it.

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