Monte-Carlo QF previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Schwartzman, Djokovic vs. Goffin

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are one round away from a potential blockbuster semifinal in Monte-Carlo. They first have to get past Diego Schwartzman and David Goffin, respectively, in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Diego Schwartzman vs. (4) Rafael Nadal

It was a tale of two matches for Nadal as he heads into quarterfinal action at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Friday. The seventh-ranked Spaniard struggled in a 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 opening win over Kyle Edmund but picked up the pace dramatically to destroy Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-1 on Thursday. The latter result is more along the lines of what can be expected from Nadal in Monte-Carlo, where he is 60-4 lifetime with nine titles. This week’s fourth seed is 21-5 in 2017 and 21-2 against opponents other than Roger Federer.

Up next for Nadal on Friday is a third career meeting with Schwartzman, who is 0-2 in the head-to-head series. The Argentine went down 6-2, 6-2 on the hard courts of Acapulco in 2013 and 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5 at the 2015 U.S. Open. Playing the best tennis of his life right now, Schwartzman is up to a career-high ranking of No. 41 in the world and he will climb to at least 34th next week. So far in Monte-Carlo he has taken out Bernard Tomic, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets. At just 5’7”, Schwartzman obviously cannot serve Nadal off the court and he is forced to hit shots consistently outside of his strike zone against Nadal’s heavy topspin. If nothing else, however, the underdog will make this an entertaining baseline battle.

Pick: Nadal in 2 losing more than 7 games

(10) David Goffin vs. (2) Novak Djokovic

Djokovic and Goffin will be going head-to-head for the sixth time in their careers on Friday. All five of their previous encounters have gone Djokovic’s way and he is 11-1 in total sets against Goffin. Their most memorable showdown came at the 2015 Cincinnati Masters, where the Belgian led by a double-break at 3-0 in the third set and then failed to win another game in a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 defeat. They most recently faced each other at last year’s World Tour Finals, with Goffin taking an injured Gael Monfils’ place for one match and promptly getting blown out 6-1, 6-2.

It has hardly been one-way traffic for Djokovic so far in Monte-Carlo. The 2013 and 2015 champion escaped Gilles Simon 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 after Simon served for the match and he outlasted Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Thursday. Such struggles do not come as a significant surprise given the Serb’s lackluster form (14-3 in 2017 with only one title in Doha) and an elbow injury that forced him out of Miami. Goffin is 21-7 this season following impressive clay-court wins this week over Nicolas Almagro and Dominic Thiem. Against the very best players in the world, however, Goffin often gets overpowered or breaks down on his own serve–or both. He also clearly lacks belief against Djokovic, so an easier time at the office than he what he endured in rounds two and three should be in store for the No. 2 seed.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

38 Comments on Monte-Carlo QF previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Schwartzman, Djokovic vs. Goffin

  1. Diego holds to love consolidating the break for 4-2 but his serves landed mostly in the middle of the box and Rafa really needed to do more with his returns but instead let Diego take comtrol of the points.

  2. Save a couple of points, Rafa played a very strong and agressive game taking control and holding for 3-4 still down a break.

    Knowing Rafa goes on to win the next three to take the match, this was the turning point where Rafa plays it out strongly.

    Happy to be watching aware of the outcome of the match.

      • MA, the loss in speed is infinitesimal and cannot be judged with the naked eye but at the elite level that Rafa plays, it can make a difference between a winner and a just out ball.

        • So we can judge indirectly that an elite athlete has lost some speed in his foot/reflexes due to injury or age when his error count goes up as compared to when he was at his peak. This would also be apparent by the fall in his wins.

          • Other greats like fed and Agassi can make up for small losses in speed but apparently not for our one dimensional Rafa.

            (Hint: he’s more than just speed. Always was and still is.)

            • That doesn’t alter the fact that he has lost speed. But he should be able to compensate by introducing more variety and improving his serve. But our man’s life is complicated by his injuries. I do not think any other player would have been able to play at top level for so long as Rafa has done despite his physical problems. I think some tennis player ( Tipsa? Federer?) said that Rafa is an inspiration to athletes struggling with injuries.

        • Nah, negligible physically.

          Mary slips up saying it can’t be seen by eye just indirectly trying to recover from the truth lol.

        • Okay Mary…I certainly respect your opinion and view very very much everytime i read your comments..Thank u for responding to me..

          • Mary knows a lot about tennis and I respect her tennis opinions too even if I don’t always agree.

            • Yeah Hawks…even she’s always took a dig at me..it doesn’t matter..i value her precious opinion like i value all my dear and smart and intelligent poster’s here..every each one of u guys!U GUYS ARE AWESOME!!!

      • MA,

        Thank you for posting this link of that unbelievable shot from Rafa! As I watched my recording of the match, I had to stop and rewind that shot to see it a few times!

        Now that is vintage Rafa!

        The shot of the match for sure! Rafa’s still got it!
        ??

      • If you see the existing studies on the age related performance of elite tennis athletes, there is a slow decline after 29. With better training, diet and maybe with doping, the age at which performance deteriorates may go up but it definitely happens. Although the fall in speed/ reflexes would not be evident to viewers, the difference in results would be dramatic. As a matter of fact, outside athletics, a man would still be considered in his physical prime in his thirties.

        • Greats in tennis are able to adapt for small drops in speed. Agassi and fed to name two.

          Many players are now playing their best tennis into their 30s and Wawrinka winning two slams in his thirties.

          But that apparently doesn’t fit the narrative nor the confirmatory bias of a Rafan.

          Strange.

          • The problem with hawkeye and MA and some other Rafans here is that they do not bother to examine the research on this. Instead they just state their opinion over and over again hoping that would convince everyone.

            • The problem is is that Mary and some others are generalizing and assuming Rafa’s too slow and injured to return to being the best again.

              I still believe in Rafa’s potential to adapt to small invisible by the naked eye loss of speed like other top players despite past injuries.

            • I did not say Rafa will not be the best again. Considering the rest of the big 4 are aging too, he has every chance of dominating unless nextgen come up.

      • Mira, whether Rafa lost any speed or not, its the ability to anticipate the next shot that can matter. Rafa was already anticipating the next shot from Diego and moving in that direction, and so he was able to get there to hit that unbelievable passing shot. He’s still so strong and powerful, hitting that shot from out wide position yet it just touched the corner! Amazing!

        The ability to anticipate or to read your opponent’s next move is important, as you have a bit more time to get ready, unlike just waiting for and reacting to your opponent’s next move.

        Rafa wasn’t quite good in his anticipation skills lately and that’s why he looked hesitant and was late for his next shot, making him looked like he had lost some speed (he might have but only very very slightly. Of course we’re not comparing him to his 19/20 yo self when his speed was incredible).

        • Lucky!Very agree with u!…One of rafa skills is that he’s very good in anticipating his opponents next shot…take a look at his AO 14 semi final against Roger and USO 10 final against Novak[and this is just a few example of it]…God!He’s so so amazing in that matches Lucky!…I think if he win MC,he can change many things whether it involve his game or his mind…

        • Not just about speed. Many players adapt as can Rafa. I believe his greatness can allow him to do this like other great players in their 30s.

          Rafa hesitates like most players due to lack of confidence in those moments.

            • Awww Hawks!!You!!..U makes me love u more and more!!hahaha…Hey..you’re also have a kind heart u know!…U just praised Mary for her tennis knowledge despite you guys very rarely seen eye to eye in everything..it’s gonna take a BIG heart to do that Hawks!And u got that in u..not to mention,you’ve been an Angel to me…To me,you’re not only kind,big hearted,generous,smart,intelligent,full of knowledge and i’m very honoured to got to know u here Hawks..and Nny,rc,amy and other’s as well..Thank u for willing to be my internet friend..okay Boss?Hehe..

  3. Wow vintage Rafa opening up his shoulder and letting loose hitting deep and agressive to break back at love to get back on serve at 4 all reminding me just how good Rafa used to do this more consistently.

  4. Wow 14 straight points from Rafa to seal the win representing just how good Rafa can still be and HAS to be to win tournaments.

    IMO it’s not about age.

    Overall an uneven match from Rafa and his serve certainly let him down too often for my liking.

    That said a much better match than I concluded from scoreboard watching earlier today.

    Rafa cleaned up his game in the second set with seven UEs (20 for the match).

    Still a funny stat to see winning the match in two despite winning just slightly more than half his service points.

    Sorry y’all have to listen to my bitching ’bout Rafa all the time haha.

  5. Here are references to a few articles which also refer to the research on which they are based:
    Peak performance and Age among Super Athletes : Track and Field, Swimming, Baseball, Tennis and Golf by Richard Schulz and Christine Curnow.

    Science and Practice of strength training by Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, William J. Kraemer
    The demand in Forensic Medicine to assess the Age of Adolescents and Young Adults : Crime Procedures ( A contribution of the German Academy of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology)
    Ageing and Human Muscle: Observations from Sweden:( Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology,vol 18(1), pp2-18,1993)
    The Jock V. The Clock by Claudia Kalb (Newsweek, May 24,1999)
    When does a footballer get old? – The Sport Digest
    Breaking down thirty-year-old running backs by T. Cockcroft

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