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

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

  1. Heroic effort by Goffin. He defied all the odds but to be fair Nole is still a long way off his best level.

  2. It was an impressive win….that third set…sheesh.
    Take nothing away from Goffin! He’s made Monte Carlo SF!

    • Absolutely right, ratcliff. Can’t remember last time I saw Novak getting dominated from the baseline like that. Those two desperation drop shots said it all. Take nothing away from Goffin.

    • Now the path is open for Rafa. He needs to win this title!

      I am okay with him not meeting Novak right now. There will be other chances. He needs to run his 10th title here! That is the missing part of the puzzle!

      Go get it, Rafa!

  3. As I said this morning, Rafa’s match would be a very late start. Sunset is in 35 minutes and Rafa hasn’t started.

    Can’t see this one finishing. I don’t think there are lights are there?

  4. Djokovic looks done, idk how the guy is supposed to win another GS or any tourney at this point. maybe he’ll find a way back but at this point that’s hard to believe. Defending 3600 points these next 5 weeks with Rom, Madrid and RG…could possibly drop to 5th in the rankings. Yikes.

    I hope he finds a way to play well again because it would be sad if he didn’t but he looks awful. Maybe play a 250 to gain some confidence?

    • He will play his best again, The Don. There was some glimpses of it today. He really didn’t like losing to Goffin in MC like that. He was polite to Goffin but his face showed a different emotion on his way out. I think this loss will help him get focused. He came out with a weird look on his face (distracted and amused) and lost that first set lamely. He decided to play in the second set and it was almost enough to win him the match. Goffin fought and competed better today vs Nole than I’ve ever seen him. So some credit to Goffin…but it is time for Nole to get serious and start competing like we know he can.

      • He looked like that times 10 when he lost to Delpo at the Olympics and that was nine months ago.

        Didn’t help then.

        • No, imo this look was different in Rio and the loss in a completely different context / time of his life. Blowing his Olympic chance in the middle of personal issues was a devastation deeper than losing in MC to Goffin. This will loss is going to motivate him.

  5. I don’t think Nole wanted to make Rafans happy tomorrow.

    Either that, or he was only kidding.

    Or just being polite.

    Unless he’s injured.

    • that would be a long injury. outside of maybe 1 match vs delpo this year every match he played he has looked horrendous for his standards.

    • MA,

      I had to go out, but am following the score. I also recorded the match. Am I on my way home now.

      Vamos Rafa!

  6. Seriously, is it just me that can’t see this match being played before darkness?

    That would seriously throw Rafa’s chances of a title in jeopardy .

  7. Diego, Goffin, AVR and Pouille stand in Rafa’s way for a 10th MC title.

    Hoping he won’t feel extra pressure as the only Big Four (plus CryBabyMirkasRight) left.

  8. This could only be good news for all you Rafa fans who want him to win the title! Titles breed confidence, no matter who you have to face.

  9. Nadal has gotta take the title. If he doesn’t, that will be crazy. Goffin could pose some problems, but he should still be able to get by him.

  10. Rafa applying the pressure hard – determined to break this game and get the set. lol
    There it is!!

  11. rc..if rafa win MC,you’re going to win the Bracket…and u can kick my backside to your heart content!!hehehe..

        • Yes, draw should be out soon for ATP and WTA…it’s Fed Cup this weekend but I’m busy tomorrow at a protest march 😀 No time to sit still these days but I’ll get the brackets picked.

  12. It was a good sign that they were breaking each other! That meant both have breakable serves! So advantage Rafa as he is very good at defending break points!

        • Rafa played barely well enough to beat the No. 41 player.

          As I said already, happy for the win (but not how he got there).

          (Sorry you can’t keep it about tennis but understandable, because my tennis analysis, unlike yours, is impeccable.)


          • hawkeye losing his touch with tennis analysis. If two players have breakable serves, the one who is better at defending break points wins.

            • Not about the match result Mary as I’ve already explained. It’s about his form going forward.

              As I said, happy for the win and the chance for MC No. 10 (but not his level of play).

              Too bad you have to resort to personal attacks. You shouldn’t concern yourself personally with how I think Rafa played.

  13. This Diego guy really hits so hard! Average ground stroke speed is 124 kph, 5 over Rafa’s! Thankfully Rafa wins the first set; I hope he’s calm now and and breaks down Diego’s game.

    Rafa always hits to opponent’s BH and now he often gets burnt by their hard hitting I/O CC FH. He should think of hitting to opponent’s FHs at times to keep them guessing.

        • Only scoreboard watching but I KNOW it’s bad because he’s held just four of eight service games.

          He’s obviously horrible in this match.

          He’s only won half of his service points.

          Those are vulgar service stats.

          At least he’s back on serve, not that that counts for anything in this match.

          • Ok Hawks..thanks for your thought…very different from sascha’s match isn’t it?I think play in cold and heavy condition affected him…but,the good thing is,he’s winning now and more importantly,his mental strength is superb despite the non stop onslaught from Diego..that’s really good news indeed..

            • Yeah could be that for sure MA and the way he ended the match was fantastic. I think he won the last 12 or 14 points.

    • There were one or two people on here who said Diego might have the game to give Rafa a challenge.

      I not watching it because I am out, but as long as Rafa wins, that’s fine with me,

      • That’s me Nny..i’ve seen Diego on action against Agut and i knew immediately that Diego can give rafa trouble..He dispatched Agut in straight sets..and Agut like all Spanish players is a clay court specialist…to defeat him in starights that means there’s something really good in him..and he shows us atm…

        • He’s gotten even stronger this year compared to last. This guy Diego. But Rafa is going to break back….! Yessss

          This is Schwartzman’s first masters 1000 QF!

  14. If Diego can overcome the deficit and live to win a set, I might put him in the toughness category with Dominika Cibulkova. If Diego loses in straights…nope not up to Dominika’s mentality.

    • Rafa is leaving it all out there to get this over in 2. But Diego didn’t get discouraged being down to start the set. Now he’s broken Rafa. Yeah, this guy is dogged and determined – never say die attitude. Definitely reminds me of Dominika.

  15. Diego up a break in the second set. Rafa is hitting right back at him; Rafa is playing a one dimensional game right now, no varieties.

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