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

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

  1. Nole gained rhythm and playing well, while Goffin’s level dropped. Exactly what my fear was: Novak to use this match for building confidence and getting into the groove for tomorrow…

  2. Goffin’s body language poor now. He seems resigned to his fate. Pity, he has the tools to beat Djoko but lacks the killer instinct when it matters.

    • hello ed. You are right about our man Goffin — he has the tools and right now he’s coming close but he’s….bound to blow it. Geez, the same with Federer and Andy vs Goffin.

      • Goffin doesn’t have the mental toughness to beat the big guys. He has hung in there and tried to break back, but Novak”s serving has been very strong.

  3. Wow that was a big hold for Novak. Big opportunity blown for Goffin… Let’s see if he can keep pressuring Novak’s service games. First he’s gotta not go down a double break!

    • I’d be so proud of Goffin if he could beat Nole, Federer, or Andy. He’s lost to each of them 5 times…going on 6 times to Novak.

  4. And I don’t think Nole will need to fall down and roll on the ground or rip a shirt to get psyched up if Rafa is across the net. These close matches with Simon, PCB and a refresher course vs Goffin have been good tune-ups for Nole.

      • Nny!…Now,at least we can’t underestimate Goffin anymore..he’s already showed us that he can stand at the same level with one of the most difficult player in history….now,that’s something!

        • As Ed said, Goffin has the tools to beat any of them but he caves in vs Nole, Andy and Federer. He’s made it tough a couple times with Andy and Nole… but this would be HUGE!

  5. Oh My God!I can’t believe Goffin can produce such a high quality tennis like this!Against Novak of all player!!Full full credit to him even if he lost later..

  6. What??I can’t believe novak made a drop shot at crucial moment,knowing Goffin is superb at the net…

  7. 1 for 11 on 3rd set BPs tsk tsk.

    This is why Goffin will fail.

    He does not BELIEVE.


      • Well it just goes to show you!

        I guess Goffin believes after all!

        You never can tell in this sport!

        Goffin did not fail! He outplayed Novak when it counted the most. He won!

        Congratulations to Goffin! I think Benny picked him to best Novak! Well done

    • No, MA, I’m happy! Nole has beaten David 5 times. I want him to beat Andy and especially Federer …I’m a big Goffin fan.

      I don’t expect Goffin to beat Rafa here at all ….they’ve never met. And it’s clay…Goffin’s made it close once before vs Nole.

      • You’re a fan of Goffin rc?Oh cool!!!In that case,big big congrats to u rc!With this perfomance Goffin deserves to win this title’s a shame cause i want rafa to win as well!hehehe..But,if Goffin win..i will be happy for him also rc…God!He’s sooooo awesome today!!!..And novak too of coz!!

  8. He made it….he won Yay Goffin!!! His first win over Nole.

    And Nole as classy as it gets congratulating David. God, I’m so happy right now 😀

  9. I don’t think Nole wanted to go all out to win this match and risk re injuring his arm.

    He is saving himself for Roland Garros.

    (See what I did just there?)

  10. But seriously, very happy for Gopffin taking out Nole today.

    Sure on one level I want to see Rafa make the semi and beating Nole breaking the streak of bad losses, but more importantly is a 10th MC title, becoming the only player to win 10 Masters titles at one event and helping to restore his confidence.

    One step at a time.


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