Miami QF previews and predictions: Raonic vs. Kyrgios, Nishikori vs. Monfils

A pair of intriguing quarterfinal showdowns will take place on Thursday in Miami. Milos Raonic looks to continue his hot streak at the expense of Nick Kyrgios, while Kei Nishikori faces Gael Monfils.

(12) Milos Raonic vs. (24) Nick Kyrgios

Raonic and Kyrgios will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers and for the first time on a hard court when they collide in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open on Thursday. The head-to-head series stands at 2-1 in favor of Raonic, who prevailed at two consecutive majors in 2014; 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-3 in the French Open first round and 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4) in the last 32 at Wimbledon. The two big hitters faced each other again at the All-England Club last summer, when Kyrgios scored a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory.

Not even an adductor strain has prevented Raonic from being No. 2 in the race to London behind Novak Djokovic this season. When healthy, the 12th-ranked Canadian has been nothing short of awesome. He captured a title in Brisbane, reached the Australian Open semifinals, and finished runner-up to Djokovic in Indian Wells. Raonic is 17-2 for his 2016 campaign following straight-set wins this fortnight over Denis Kudla, Jack Sock, and Damir Dzumhur. Kyrgios has advanced in similarly routine fashion at the expense of Marcos Baghdatis, Tim Smyczek, and Andrey Kuznetsov. Needless to say, both men capitalized on the early exits from their section of the draw by Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka. Kyrgios is 11-2 since the Aussie Open and his only two setbacks during this stretch can be chalked up to physical problems (he retired against Stan Wawrinka in Dubai and was ill in an Indian Wells loss to Albert Ramos-Vinolas). But this will be the 20-year-old’s toughest test by far since his February run to the Marseille title and it is one that may be too tough given Raonic’s current form.

Pick: Raonic in 2

(6) Kei Nishikori vs. (16) Gael Monfils

Surprisingly, Nishikori and Monfils will be going head-to-head for just the second time in their careers on Thursday despite having been on tour together for 10 years. Their only previous encounter came two years ago on the grass courts of Halle, where Nishikori got the job done 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The world No. 6 is in fine form this season and has advanced to his second consecutive Masters 1000 quarterfinal thanks to straight-set victories this fortnight over Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Alexandr Dolgopolov, and Roberto Bautista Agut. Nishikori is through to his third straight Miami quarterfinal, including a semifinal run in 2014.

Kei

It is no secret that Monfils has been preoccupied with entertainment as opposed to results at various times during his solid but unfulfilling career. This tournament has not not been one of those times. A hungry, no-nonsense Frenchman has been on display in defeats of Tatsuma Ito, Pablo Cuevas, and Grigor Dimitrov. Only Dimitrov managed to snag a set during Monfils’ trek to the last eight, but the world No. 16 bounced back to win 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday. Nishikori, however, absolutely thrives at this event and he looked outstanding in his 6-2, 6-4 fourth-round rout of Bautista Agut. In the end, the sixth seed should be slightly superior in both the mental and physical departments.

Pick: Nishikori in 3

60 Comments on Miami QF previews and predictions: Raonic vs. Kyrgios, Nishikori vs. Monfils

  1. Easy hold to 6 games for Gael. 6-5
    Now Kei will try to get this to a TB. Gael needs to break to win now.

    Oh….m…g. Kei saves 5th mp. Deuce. Serve and Volley. AD IN Kei. Passing shot beauty Gael! Deuce. Serve and Volley. AD IN Kei. GAME. Kei. Tie break. WOW.

    • WWOW! I just got home to see that this match is in a TB! I thought that Monfils would lose when he was down a break earlier in the set when I left.

      rc,

      Thanks for the play-by-play summary!

      • Glad you liked it, Nny. This match was so good but Gael ? sad he lost.

        And I’m a big Kei fan, you know. Wanted Gael to make this SF as a reward for his great efforts in Miami.

        And the next match – I don’t want to annoy the heck out everyone with pro-Nick excitement … There’s only 2 or 3 here that like him!

  2. Too bad that Monfils wasn’t able to get the win. But I am glad that he made a match of it.
    The ESPN commies are saying this loss will sting for Monfils.

    When you can’t close it out, then it comes back to bite you in the end!

    • Yeah, lot of Fed’s influence on Nick as I said…Nick isn’t playing well, not even close to his best…

  3. That’s a tough loss for la monf. Five match points. So sad he lost. He’s been playing so well this year and I feel like he really deserved this match after all the fight he showed from a break down in that final set. I think he needed this win more than Kei. Huge opportunity Monfils he just misses out on. And if Kyrgios wins this we have just barely missed out on an epic Kyrgios/Monfils SF clash. Monfils now at 15-5 on the season. I hope he can put this loss behind him and get back to work and make another good run. Whether he’s playing super business like or not, he’s got way too much talent not to make a big run at one of these upcoming masters 1000s. He made the semis at Monte Carlo last year so hopefully he can have a good clay court season again. ALLEZ LA MONF!! ??????

    • +1. Benny G. Hope he can get right back to work.

      Kyrgios serving for the set. Told the ump “quit looking at me” hahaha never a dull moment.

      Ace. 15-15. 2nd serve – un-returnable. 30-15. DF. 30-30. 2nd serve. 30-40. Break chance Milosh. Nick can’t get a 1st serve. But bp saved. deuce. ACE. AD Nick. Gets it.
      1st set Kyrgios. erratic serving.

  4. Kyrgios and Raonic is a pretty good match so far. Both guys struggling a bit but Nick has come up with some bigger shots and is serving for it up 5-4 after this changeover. Let’s go Nick!! ??????

  5. Nick only 48% of first serve and winning a set…wonder what would have happened if Nick was playing better than this ?

    • Yeah. If Nick was serving like he did in Marseille and Dubai the match could be over by now! But he’s not. Lucky for Nick, Milos isn’t at his best either.

  6. Here we go…Break point for Nick! hahaha can’t make it and chastises himself. deuce. wow clobbered a 2nd serve did Nick. BP again. Saved by Milosh. Deuce. Milos 2nd serve again. punished by Nick. AD Nick. bp 3. ACE. saved. deuce. AD Milosh. Too good. he holds serve. But that was an exciting game. Milos leads 4-3 on serve.

    • I just tuned in to this match. I had company and finally they left. So Nik has the first set and now it’s TB.

  7. Vika v Angie could be a great match after this one. Doubt if another match can top Vika v Mugu – best match of Miami for me — we’ll see.

    Kyrgios holding easy. It’s 5-5. 2nd set. Can see a TB coming at this rate. Milos stamping his authority now — serving ahead. 6-5.

    Easy hold again, Nick. Not a sniff for Milos. 6-6 Tie Break.

  8. I didn’t know that Nik is now up that high in the rankings.

    His first Masters semifinal.

    These guys have been sweating billets out there today. Monfils and Nishi looked soaked to the skin in their match.

    It’s going to get hotter in southern Florida over the weekend.

  9. As I expected…Nick gets a pretty was win without playing his own best…he will have to raise his level for Novak…I assume Nick will beat an out of gas Nishi…

    Good job, Nick! Prove to those doubters that you can be up to the task not only game wise but mentally and discipline-wise as well… ?

  10. Hard to tell if Raonic was still having a problem with the abductor tear. He was passed fit to play but his movement was undoubtedly compromised. A lot of the time he was not getting into position to execute his shots effectively.

    • 100% agreed…that’s why I wrote he was lousy in the TB…..I only watched the TB. Milos is a lot better from the baseline now… he was kind of rushing his forehands and not getting into the desired positions…

      • I agree with ed and vamosrafa. Raonic as missing shots that he would make in his sleep. I wondered if he wasn’t entirely at his best. However, that takes nothing away from Nik who was able to serve a lot better in the second set and especially in the to when it counted most.

        I wonder in Nishi will have much left after that tough battle against Monfils in the heat and humidity today.

    • Milos was not at his best. Neither was Nick – at least not as good as he was in mowing down his draw and winning Marseille.

      Good tweet by Ricky:
      ‏@Dimonator
      Nick Kyrgios had won seven Masters 1000 matches in his ENTIRE CAREER prior to Miami. Has won four already in this event.

      He’s making good progress. Hope he can win tomorrow and get to the final.
      Nick will pass his mate Bernie in the rankings ?

      • rc,
        Again, interesting observations from you regarding these two guys. Nik did say in the post-match in court interview, that he did not serve well earlier in the match, but had it when he needed it most.

        Great tweet from Ricky pointing out how little Nik has done in Masters tournaments until this one.

  11. You have to wonder if Nishikori will have had time to recover sufficiently to deal with Mr. Curious tomorrow.

    • ed,

      Yes, I posted something similar about how much Nishi will have left for the match with Nik.

  12. No, Milos played pretty well. His serve was not at his own standards but he was moving well and playing some great shots..Nick just would not let it go! That’s what I love about Nick’s tennis: he is brave and persistent although somewhat lose at times…

    Agree that Milos played lousy TB…

    • I thought Milos returned very well and was solid off the ground. His movement is tough for me to gauge because reach is so long… he can stretch an arm out to get back so many balls! Watching Milos, he’s all arms and legs covering the court.
      The thing the commies were wondering was if he was having trouble using his legs serving. His serve speeds were on the low side – 2nd serve too. Not hitting his usual number of aces. 4 aces for the match.
      http://www.flashscore.com/match/IPh6LndT/#match-statistics;0

      But Nick’s hilarious. He had so much confidence in that tb.

  13. Congrats to me.

    As I said, Milosh is still compromised. What did he have 3? 4 aces? Pretty obvious.

    Nick played well if not at his best but seriously, you can count on one hand the number of times he’s been at his best. He’s had a good draw and has taken advantage. Definitely fun to watch as he pulls off shots I’ve never seen by anyone else.

    I don’t see him getting past Nishikori.

    • Yep. Hawkstradamus. You continue to be right, I’ll say! And yet, I wonder about the Nikkei match…

      The serve stats tell the story. Milos had to be guarding an injury – at least when serving — 4 aces? And his good returning could be down to Nick’s serving being off for most of the match. Milos did hit some incredible shots. He’s got that Delpo stretch and lunge capacity. Hope he’ll be okay for Monte Carlo.

      • If nick’s downfall is consistency and mental maturity, Raonic’s is health. The guy simply cannot stay healthy.

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