Toronto SF previews and predictions: Djokovic vs. Monfils, Wawrinka vs. Nishikori

Gael Monfils’ amazing hot streak has him in the Toronto semifinals, but world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is standing in his way on Saturday. The winner will go up against either Stan Wawrinka or Kei Nishikori in the title match.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (10) Gael Monfils

Djokovic and Monfils will be going head-to-head for the 12th time in their careers at the ATP level and for the first time in almost two full years when they clash in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup on Saturday. All 11 of their previous encounters have gone the way of Djokovic, who is also an overwhelming 10-0 at Monfils’ expense on hard courts. If there is any good news for the underdog Frenchman, it’s that Djokovic needed a third-set tiebreaker to survive the last time they squared off in Toronto (6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(2) in 2014).

Speaking of good news for Monfils, he is playing the smartest, most intense, and quite simply the best tennis of his career right now. The 29-year-old is 30-9 for the season, registers at 14th in the world, will be no worse than No. 8 in the Race to London on Monday, and will break back into the top 10 if he beats Djokovic.  Monfils has followed up his biggest title as a professional in Washington, D.C. with victories this week over Joao Sousa, Vasek Pospisil, David Goffin, and Milos Raonic. Djokovic has not been at his very best through three matches, but he has at least showcased a better mental and physical state than what was on display when he lost to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon third round. The top-seeded Serb is through to the last four thanks to defeats of Gilles Muller, Radek Stepanek, and Tomas Berdych. Amidst what is sure to be an entertaining night-session atmosphere against one of the toughest opponents in the business, Djokovic should raise his level just enough to maintain his mastery of Monfils.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

(3) Kei Nishikori vs. (2) Stan Wawrinka

Based on their 2014 U.S. Open showdown, it would be fair to say that there have been far too few installments of the Wawrinka-Nishikori rivalry. During quarterfinal action in Flushing Meadows two years ago, Nishikori prevailed 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(7), 6-7(5), 6-4 on his way to a surprising runner-up finish. It is Wawrinka, though, who leads the head-to-head series 3-1. The fifth-ranked Swiss boasts a trio of straight-set victories at Nishikori’s expense dating back to 2012, and he most recently got the job done 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(6) at last year’s Australian Open.
Stan 2
Although neither man has been completely on fire this season, both appear to be heading for berths in the World Tour Finals. Wawrinka, a semifinalist at the French Open this spring, is 31-10 for his 2016 campaign following straight-set wins in Toronto over Mikhail Youzhny, Jack Sock, and Kevin Anderson. Nishikori has advanced by taking out Dennis Novikov, Rajeev Ram, and Grigor Dimitrov, surrendering one set to Dimitrov in the process. The world No. 6 is bouncing back nicely after retiring from a Wimbledon fourth-round match against Marin Cilic. But a fourth outing in four days can always be a tough proposition for the fragile Nishikori, and Wawrinka has noticeably improved with each round this week.

Pick: Wawrinka in 3

26 Comments on Toronto SF previews and predictions: Djokovic vs. Monfils, Wawrinka vs. Nishikori

  1. Stanimal and Djoker in three. Great semis. That Djoker Monfils will be especially entertaining. Let’s go Gael!!

    • No, Djokovic can definitely struggle here. If Gael is willing to pull the trigger on his forehand DTL wisely, he will have his chances. I still have my doubts about Djokovic post wimbledon. Waiting to see how he handles his next two matches which will be tough. Lastly, a focused Monfils is NOT an easy match-up for Novak.

      • vr,

        Nice take on Novak/Monfils. I am interested to see how Novak handles this match and if he is really past the early defeat at Wimbledon.

        Monfils is such an incredibly talented athlete when he is at his best. He needs to stay mentally string and focused. You make a good point about the DTL forehand. Just like Rafa used that shot so effectively against Novak.

        I would love to see a great match and will be rooting for Monfils.

        • Thanks for the response NNY, yes, I do believe his forehand DTL is crucial for him. He has the tendency go engage in endless rallies with lots of CC balls and nobody can ‘outlast’ Novak right now. Gael has had some success in the pats against him whenver he’s been willing to hit big with his forehand … he struggles to find the right mix though. So, those flat forehands DTL and inside-out will be crucial whenever he has the chance.

      • IMO his dodgy streak set in post winning the AO. For whatever reason his game has been erratic and he has been prone to sudden irrational bouts of temper. Nevertheless he has still managed to amass six titles (including the coveted RG Slam) but this probably says more about the lack of belief by his opponentsIf than the level of his play.

        Whether Monfils, who has strung together an unprecedented (for him) 9 consecutive wins can make it 10 is a moot point.

        • I also got the sense he was feeling a bit of burnt out before RG and he did struggle in RG but once he saw the finish line was near , the fact that he’d never won it, propelled him to victory. The passion and hunger were far from there in Wimby and Boris criticized his lack of preparation. Well, it can happen to anyone and these guy know well how to re-motivate them so….

          He may be able to shut us all up by winning here, Olympics and the USO and given how big a champion he is, there is no evidence there to call for bad results for him.

          Just a bit skeptical and waiting for him to prove again that he is back to his demonic level.

    • Possible cuz Djoker struggling on serve and monfils has been fantastic. I definitely think he steals a set. I have him losing in an epic three setter but I think him winning is no stretch.

  2. Beedych had the tie break totally on his racket….he made sure he to continue to his choking streak against Novak

    • vr,

      I did see that to with Berdy and Novak. Typical of Berdy to let it get away from him. This is a problem that Berdy has had throughout his career. He just cannot step up in the pressure moments of matches.

      • yes….And I don’t like Berdych’s game now. I feel he has become ‘safer’ with his forehand. In the past he could really hit HUGE and turn the rally around. He has more variation now but I personally feel the power element is not quite there now. The only way he can trouble the top lot is to hit through them, like Delpo did. Berdych used to be one of the biggest hitters but I won’t say he is one of them now. He should surely pull the trigger more often , at least against the top boys.

  3. I think Djokovic will step it up and win in 2. Monfils has played a lot of tennis lately and does not have great endurance. Wawa in 3.

  4. Monfils the most focused that I’ve ever seen him, but I still like Joker in straight, and Wka in 3.

  5. If djoker can lose to Sam querry(+1800) and lose to vesley(+1200), he can absolutely lose to monfils(+500). I listed the odds because that’s how much the general public believed djoker couldn’t lose to querry and vesley but he did.

  6. said it post Wimby that Novak’s having issues with his second serve… continues to be the case this week.

  7. Look at HOW vulnerable DJokovic’s second serve is!! this is or is going to become a serious concern for DJokovic and his team. Murray would be eating up those second serves

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