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

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

  1. Rafa in two and Djoko in three. Djoko will meet Rafa in the SF and this time Djoko will lose in two, no more lucky escape in three sets for him! He will use up all his luck in that Goffin match!

  2. Djoko won’t win in two; Goffin is better player than Simon and PCB; so Djoko will gut out another win in three.

      • I doubt! Goffin takes the ball early and is quick around the court; he won’t be counterpunching the way PCB does. PCB just waiting for errors from Djoko, and was poor in his anticipation of Djoko’s shots.

        Goffin takes things into his own hand, PCB depends very much on how his opponent plays. Goffin’s issue is the same as Simon’s and PCB’s, i.e. lacking in belief that he can beat a top guy, and so losing from a winnable position. I’ve seen Goffin did just that time and again even when he had Djoko for e.g. on the edge. He just couldn’t take the next step (of beating these top guys).

      • The result of the match depends of which Djokovic will show up. And I agree that he most probably will be better tomorrow. Starting slow and building the momentum. That encounter with Rafa will be amazing.

      • PCB lacks the tennis acumen that Goffin has, so at crucial moments PCB makes the wrong choices! Time and again he made that mistake today vs Djoko.

  3. Schwartzman’s done well to get rid of Agut, but he doesn’t seem like the type of player who’ll give Rafa trouble. Goffin will likely cause a few issues but I’m not convinced he can close the door on Djokovic. Probably Rafa in 2 and Djoko in 3. Hope it goes like that as I’d like to see them face off again.

  4. I think Rafa never or rarely played Diego..he’s sure an underdog whom i bet will go out there and play the tennis of his life…u know nothing to lose attitude…oh,very dangerous indeed!..he’s also in hot form lately..and likes painting the lines with his shots all the time..don’t get fooled by his small stature,he’s sure can hit the ball hard and ran very fast…I think rafa will have his hands full tomorrow but if rafa of today come out to play then he should win in 2 but if rafa of yesterday instead…yeah,rafa in 3 IMO..

    • Nah, Rafa had played him twice, at Acapulco on clay in 2013 and USO in 2015, so Rafa knows him. Rafa won’t take things easy that’s for sure, he’s ever so cautious!

      • Oh really lucky?I just hope,rafa will not follow his AO day play great and the next day play like crap…but i’m ready to accept anything…when it comes to rafa,nothing is certain anymore…

        • I hope that Lucky is right about Schwartzman. But it’s as Mira Andi said. You never know with Rafa. As she said, if the Rafa who played Zverev today shows up, then he should get it gone in 2 sets. If the Rafa who played Edmund shows up, then it could go 3 sets. I just don’t like taking anything for granted.

          • NNY, Rafa didn’t play badly in that match with Kyle, he just serve badly at crucial moments. He was on track to win in straight sets but faltered, lost concentration and lost his serve, and then things went messy for him.

            Like what Rafa said in his post match interview, Kyle played with nothing to lose attitude after losing the first set 6-0 and so he’s hitting his FH as hard as possible every point. Rafa also mentioned the heavier conditions (and heavier ball) after the sunshine had gone down during set two/three, making it more difficult for his topspin FH to be effective and helping Kyle hitting without missing as the heavier ball won’t fly off course so easily.

            Read Rafa’s post match presser, it’s interesting reading his analysis.

            • Lucky,

              Thanks for the info about Rafa’s commments in his post-match presser about Edmund. I usually try to read his thoughts because it’s illuminating. What he said makes sense.

              Thanks for letting me know! It helps!

  5. It is amusing seeing how some fans here think that Rafa’s attitude is different each day and they make remnarks like which Rafa will play. They seriously underestimate Rafa. The same Rafa comes everyday but how he plays depends on how well he can play. It depends on a lot of factors including the opponent. But Rafa is always Rafa. Trying to find a way to win. It is easy for armchair tennis coaches to say Rafa should be aggressive and he should have done this and he should have done that.

  6. It was actually a very close and tense match when Rafa and Schwartzman played at US Open last year. It was like 7-6 6-3 7-5. Both guys are playing better now and are clay courters so this could be a good one. Still think Rafa wins fairly comfortably after last round’s demolition.

  7. Don’t get too excited about Rafa yet. He was good today but not excellent. It was tacticall well played and he was consistent but Zverev was BAD. I am hoping Rafa will keep improving and get rid of that hesitation.

    Djokovic keeps surviving and if he survives Goffin as well, he will not be easy at all.

    • VR: I agree that Zverev was bad today, but (unlike the first set against Edmund who was pretty much beating himself) I think Rafa had quite a bit to do with that, especially at the beginning of the match when he really set the tone. He came out aggressively and never let Zverev settle into any kind of rhythm. I think Rafa’s level today beats Novak’s current form.

    • vr,

      You are echoing my thoughts. I did see highlights of Rafa’s match and it’s true that Zverev was not on his game, but Rafa did look a lot sharper. It’s always hard to judge when the opponent doesn’t play well. That’s why I am not taking anything for granted. We still need to see consistency from Rafa. That’s why I am cautious in thinking that matches will be easy. I would like to think that Rafa will continue to play well and get his game together.

      I absolutely agree with your last sentence about Novak. He does indeed keep surviving these matches and that will actually help him build up some confidence. If you can pull out a match that you were in danger of losing, then it can work in your favor. It will be interesting to see him play Goffin. I do think that if he gets by Goffin, it’s not going to be easy.

      One match at a time for Rafa!

    • VR, nobody said Djoko is easy. Djoko could gut it out over three sets match of match, that shown his determination. Rafa must be at his best to beat Djoko, whether Djoko is lack luster or not, because Rafa fears Djoko (sad to say that)!

      • yeah. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the best of Rafa yet and we all know consistency is his biggest enemy these days. However, the last match was encouraging and the forehand was better. He can rev up the explosiveness on the forehand quite a bit and he is still giving a bit too much air on his backhand. Of course he can do that on clay to construct points (something he does better than anyone) but he’s GOT to have that flat CC and even the DTL backhand working for him to finish points.

        There is still hesitation on the DTL forehand but it is getting better. I was satisfied with the second serve return though! Hoping he will move up a gear today.

        It is the ideal time to stop his losing streak against Djokovic.

        • I agree, VR, it’s SUCH an ideal time for Rafa to turn it around… The last time Rafa lost 7 straight to Nole, it was at Monte Carlo where he turned it around! With Rafa playing arguably at a better level than Nole right now, and with Nole not at his best, AND the fact that it’s at MC, it really feels like the stars will be aligned for Rafa to finally beat Nole IF THEY ACTUALLY PLAY. As has been the case for a while now, I believe that the the edge that Nole will have on Rafa when they play again is a mental edge. If Rafa can’t get over that mental hump vs. Nole, it won’t matter how well/bad Rafa’s form is right now. I’m sure Hawks would agree with that… One thing is for sure- I feel like Rafa has got to at least get a damn SET off him again! If/When they play this clay season leading into RG, I really think that it could be a major turning point for each of their respective seasons for whichever one beats the other…

      • Agree Lucky and VR!!..Consistency and lack of belief to beat Novak i it just me or the edge on novak side if they’re meet again tomorrow?Although,i’m really really glad if Rafa prove me wrong!..My God!It’s going on long enough!Lol!!

  8. Ricky writes: “The Argentine went down 6-2, 6-2 on the hard courts of Acapulco in 2013…”

    There is a mistake on the ATP website, the Acapulco tournament was played on clay courts in 2013. The tournament switched from clay to hard courts in 2014.

  9. Rafa’s match could go very late today.

    Cilic and AVR just starting the 3rd and two matches to come before Rafa.

    • Djoko maybe but not Cuevas. Cuevas not coming to play today, like he’s tanking the match, very disappointing! Might as well let Stan reached the QF, when I think Stan would put in better effort at least.

  10. Rafa played excellent match against Zverev! It was tactically very well prepared and the execution was brilliant. One should ask himself why did Zverev look so hopeless out there when he was clearly in form and demolished his previous opponents? Well, that’s where Rafa’s role comes up! Rafa simply did not let him play his game! Zverev tried the same as he did in that AO match: hitting hard and running at every ball, trying to outhit Rafa but Rafa was defending in a fine manner and used every opportunity to switch to offense or use drop shots! This tactics is so much important should he meet with Nole.

    One thing I agree, and that’s what I have been saying all along: Nole is the toughest opponent Rafa could get on clay! Rafa is doing fine and he should be ready for Nole!

    • It’s Rafa’s fault that Djoko becomes his toughest opponent on clay. Rafa lost his confidence in 2011 after that two consecutive losses at IW followed by that close Miami loss. Rafa had never lost a Masters final to Djoko prior to 2011.

      Rafa was tentative at Miami and Rome final that year whilst Djoko was aggressive; that two wins in clay finals over Rafa had made Djoko believed that he could beat Rafa on clay, even in a final. Djoko was super aggressive at MC in 2013, almost bageled Rafa in the first set; from then he started to beat Rafa every year on clay – 2014 at Rome, 2015 at MC and RG; 2016 at Rome.

      • Nah. Give credit where credit is due.

        Nole in so many FO finals and a title plus so many clay titles.

        Nole has proven that he deserves to be Rafa’s biggest challenge on clay.

        Someone has to be lol.

          • It got to start somewhere right? Imagine Rafa winning those two clay finals in 2011, Djoko won’t be so confident facing Rafa on clay! Success breed success, I thought we kept saying that about Rafa, that Rafa must win a title now for him to feel confident again?

            Do remember, beating Fed on grass and Rafa on clay were big deals back then; beating them on their fav surfaces gave these players confidence (in facing them in future, or when playing on these surfaces in future).

            • @lucky,
              True, but Novak came close to beating Rafa even before that! He is grown up training on clay, he is great clay court player and he had always challenged Rafa on clay more than Fed to that matter. It was just the matter of time and circumstances for Novak to beat Rafa on clay…confidence loss followed naturally after Rafa lost his aura…

            • Yes nats, like I said, it got to start somewhere, but it’s unfortunate for Rafa, that it started so soon just right after his glorious year of 2010.

              Had Rafa not gotten the virus at Doha, and then injured his thigh while playing Ferrer at AO in 2011, his 2011 might turn out very different. He might be able to hold off Djoko for another year or so, had he won that Miami final, and not getting his confidence dented.

              Of course we could only speculate about what if; but we could see how important those two wins on clay were for Djoko, that he celebrated like he’s at the top of the world (he wasn’t no.1 yet at that time).

            • Don’t disagree with you LS in terms of gaining confidence, but Nole was a big part of that, not Rafa.

              Everybody said Nole was crazy for saying he was in control of the match at RG in 2006 after having to retire and that Rafa was beatable on clay.

              Sure, it was a ridiculous statement, but he BELIEVED.

              And belief makes all the difference at the elite level.

            • “Had Rafa not gotten the virus at Doha, and then injured his thigh while playing Ferrer at AO in 2011, his 2011 might turn out very different. ”

              Related: Two part question for all Rafans:
              A. Has Rafa ever lost a match when healthy and
              2. When, if ever, was the last time.


  11. ATM Rafas not playing Madrid or Rome, and its not 2011 its 2017, and hes not playing Novak hes playing Diego (cant spell his name), lets see if both get to each other first, thats before we start writing off this player or that player ….

  12. Another interesting day for rafa today!…Urgh!I can’t wait to see his form! ..whether his superb perfomance yesterday will be continued[oh!i wish!]…or Diego will have his own story to tell?And Rafa will play late,that means the ball will get heavier when the temperature get colder…considering his struggled against Kyle with these condition?But,i have no doubt that rafa will’s just a matter of how many sets…[insyaallah]..

    • MA,

      I hope that Rafa comes out and plays well again today. We know that it’s on Rafa’s racket on clay!

      • Oh!I very much hope so Nny!! r u today?Ermm..yesterday,i gave something for u on Non tennis forum Nny…

  13. I feel like Diego is exactly the type of player that Rafa runs clinics on… Let’s see if I’m right!

    • Mira A, would you prefer Djokovic or Goffin next round? of course assuming Rafa wins today, which seems logical.

      • Eugene!…As much as i adore Novak,i have to say “Please God!let Goffin win today..just so Rafa can win his 10th this weekend…he really really need this win very badly”!Thank u God!…There Eugene!Hope u satisfied with my answer..

        • I was just curious about you preference. Some users here expressed their wish for Nadal to finally meet Djoko and see where his level currently is. However I think this Novak is not yet the real Novak, so he’s not a good ‘point of measurement’ if I can say that. I see what you saying, Rafa needs this title. Goffin is good, but Rafa would play with more confidence against him.

          • Eugene…To me,at this point winning a title here much more important than to see where Rafa’s level at the moment..if he win,he can restore back his confidence to the fullest and break the invisible wall that still planted very firmly in his mind..this win can solve many problem for Rafa..

  14. Goffin might be taking the first set! It’s 5-2 Goffin …yikes Goffin going to try to serve for the set.

      • So far Goffin has played very well and Novak looks a bit out of sorts. But we have to see how Novak responds in the second set, can Goffin keep it up?

  15. The tennis channel commies have taken note of Novak’s demeanor in this match. Negative body language and lack of a spark or intensity.

    Goffin came out focused and has played as though he believes he can win. But he cannot afford any letdown,

    • This time Goffin really believes. If Nole is to win, he will really earn it this time. Not like against Carreno or Simon. Might be 2:1 for Goffin.

    • Yeah Nny…the uninterested look is back on his face as if he didn’t care what’s going to happen..

      And,it’s really good to see Goffin stay with Novak at every’s not easy to do that..if he can create a 1st win over Novak today,it’s going to be huge achievement for him..

      • MA,

        Well it looks like I got my answer. Goffin didn’t keep up the high level of play and Novak got himself into the match. Goffin had his chances early in the second set. It’s not enough to play one great set of tennis against Novak.

        • Yeah Nny.But,there’s 1 more sets to be played..let’s see whether Goffin will be able to rise to the occassion or not…

  16. If this goes three, Nole will win. I think that fall looked worse than it was. Nole seems more awake and in it. Part of me wants Nole to win but I’d like Goffin to get his first win over Nole too. It’s a win-win.

      • I’m always wondering, Hawks- what’s the Herbert references/jokes all about haha? I find myself cracking a smile about it, even though I have no idea what you’re referring to. 🙂

Comments are closed.

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