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

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

    • When I watch this match, I’m sure it’s more about Rafa hitting short.

      The guy can’t hold serve FFS.

      Nothing new.

      • Well, I haven’t been thinking Rafa was chronically hitting short. I thought Rafa played great! But I bow to the specialists – it’s just my humble opinion when speaking of Rafa.

          • Okay thanks — he needs to clean up his serve! I didn’t look at the stats for any match today. But honestly, I thought Rafa was hitting deep enough but I give Diego credit for hanging in with Rafa, hitting deep too. Eventually I thought Rafa had more in the tank and started adding variety.

            Did Rafa serve better vs Sascha? I didn’t see his other matches this week.

            Rafa has Goffin, whom he’s never played, ARV or Pouille. I guess I’m most worried about Pouille. I want Rafa to win another title here.

            • Shhh Augusta. Now we can’t use the excuse that Rafa wasn’t familiar with his game if he loses.

              At least we still have:
              1. He doesn’t want to play 100% and risk injury before French Open.
              2. He is already injured.
              3. He’s just being polite.
              4. He was only kidding.
              5. All of the above.
              6. Some or all of 2-3 AND 1 or 2 (but not both).

            • I just looked at all match stats for Rafa v Diego and Nole v David.

              low percentages for all of them in points won on serve. A bit higher in the Nole v Goffin match but nothing spectacular. Nole is not hitting a big serve consistently.

              ROS….we are talking about the top ranked ROS this year!:1) Andy,2) Rafa, 3)Nole, 4)Diego, yes Diego Schwatzman, 5) Kei 6) Goffin!
              http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/leaderboard?page=serve

              These were two great matches, I thought 😀

            • I just thought that stat was amazing. I like tennis analytics.

              And, to be fair, I was only scoreboard watching.

              I did see some great highlights from Rafa posted on twitter.

              So I’ll definitely have a look on TennisTV.

              Speaking of stats, thanks for that rc. Wow, that really helps put it into perspective and it’s amazing that those two matches featured 4 of the 6 best ROS.

              Diego being the lowest ranked which suggests he must have a relatively low rate of holding serve…lemme look. He’s 69th in serve rating which isn’t terrible but significantly below his ranking. 72 in holding serve getting broken about 30% of the time.

              On clay, Rafa’s no. 1 ROS rating winning 42% of his return games. Diego is 4th winning 39% of his return games.

              And if you filter your search by just clay, the top four ROS rankings in order are, can you guess?

              Rafa, Goffin, Nole and Diego.

              Wow. That’s amazing.

            • I remember you like stats. I do too but I get lazy. If you specify for clay, look at the leaders….particularly ROS and you see Diego up there…Rafa is the best but Diego is no slouch he can bring down someone’s service % right up there with the very best.
              http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats

              Okay…you already looked at it. LOL…
              To me, on clay you can throw out that #41 ranking number for Diego – he’s a tougher customer than that!

            • Axiom: Rafa, when not injured, is invincible.
              All deductions about Rafa’s losses have to be based on this.
              An axiom, as you know, is a self evident truth.

    • What a slugfest! Diego’s error count in mounting — he’s the first to blink and can’t keep this up vs the King of Clay. He’s pretty good though, Diego.

  1. Yes! Come on Rafa one more break and you’ll win the match! At least Rafa change up a little bit – hit some high looping shots, hits more to Diego’s FH and serves intelligently that last point of his service game.

    He’s so good at the net, now using drop shots so intelligently! Sigh, he should play this way earlier in the match.

    Yes, Rafa breaks and wins the match, 6-4, 6-4! Thank goodness not a third set! Well done Rafa, vamos! I thought Rafa is going to lose the second set, but well done Rafa, to change up in the last few games and Diego couldn’t handle those.

  2. None of these outside-the-top-ten cats can take the King of Clay, even when he’s playing sub-par for his standard… Rafa for the title!

  3. This season has been awesome to be honest. I’m loving all the upsets and deep runs from underdogs at the tournaments along with Fed Rafa and Stan as the top 3 in the race and Kyrgios starting to mature and consistently become a threat too. And I’m just fine with Djoker and Murray struggling lol. Honestly couldn’t be happier with the way this year has gone on the ATP. Rafa needs to win this title now. He deserves his first of the season, and it would be nice to see him take down Barcelona next week as well.

  4. Only saw last set from the period when Diego took the lead at 3-2 until the end. Rafa seemed to have a bit of a lull there, but Diego was on fire for a few games. Couldn’t sustain it and Nadal really picked it up in the last several games. He clearly didn’t want to go three sets in the cold.

  5. Nny!Yay!Congrats to u for rafa’s win!Hope u will feel muuuucchhhh better with this win Nny!To semis we go!!!Wooohooo!!

    • MA,

      I checked the score when I got home. So happy to see that Rafa won!

      Now I am going to watch my recording of the match.

      Rafa is in the semis!

      Go get this title Rafa!

  6. On to Goffin who must be really on a high! But as we have seen, most players crash out after defeating a big name so Goffin may have a let down tomorrow!Hopefully Rafa will not have to work too hard to be in the final and will be ready to eat for breakfast (or is it dinner) whoever emerges from the other half!

    • It is possible that Goffin could have a letdown after his big win over Novak. One can never be absolutely sure, because this win could give Goffin real belief and confidence. He certainly earned this win. How much it took out of him we won’t know until tomorrow.

      I am hoping that Rafa can capitalize on this opportunity. I am sure he will be ready for Goffin and not take him for granted.

      I don’t care about stats. Rafa won and that’s what matters. His serve percentage may go up in the next match. But it’s all about winning.

      Vamos Rafa!

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  7. On a somewhat related note, I am becoming more and more confident each tournament that Fedal will finish 2017 in the top two spots in the rankings…

  8. Diego keeping Rafa defensive and breaks again for 3-4. Would have been nice to see Rafa resist being pushed back so much but he wasn’t horrible.

  9. Very strange game from Rafa to hold for 5-4. Played some good points and finally won after three deuces. However many points he hit very short and he started sweating suddenly like crazy and the sun is down with the crowd wearing sweaters and heavy jackets.

    • Hawks..I feel strange myself when i looked at Rafa sweating like he take a bath with it!Camera showed Diego’s coach,Chela wears a thick jacket like he’s in winter season and rafa sweating non stop!…I think maybe because of the nervousness and adrenaline on high flow atm…

      • Yeah it’s a sign of his anxiety IMO. Also the cold night air doesn’t suit his play.

        However while not at his best, he managed to not let it severely affect his play although it very well may have against a much better opponent. That said, Diego punched above his weight class no doubt.

  10. Rafa plays well to get his third break to take the first set.

    Still. 18 UEs from Diego vs 13 from Rafa. A pretty high number but it didn’t really seem that way.

    Rafa was better than I thought other than the first game.

  11. Great comeback from Rafa to break for 2-0 after being down 40-0 including a stretched out wide FHDTL get winner that lands just inside the corner.

  12. Now this was Rafa’s second bad service game failing to consolidate with a double fault and three consecutive UEs to get broken to 15.

    Too cold and more than half of the crowd has left.

    Diego serving 1-2.

  13. Rafa’s fourth poor service game with lack of zip on his serve and dropping the ball short repeatedly to go down 0-40. A good serve from Rafa but Diego with a good return takes control of the point getting his third break of the match now up a break serving at 3-2.

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