- Chris Sobey
The Rome masters is now down to the quarter-final stage and yesterday produced some shock results and major talking points on the eve of the of the first Grand Slam the French Open.
Third seed Roger Federer’s lack of competitive match practice caught up with him yesterday losing in straight sets against 13 seed Dominic Thiem 7-6 6-4. Veteran Juan Monaco recorded his first ever win against fourth seed Stan Wawrinka 6-7 6-3 6-3, after losing their previous five encounters and the biggest upset came when ninth seed and veteran David Ferrer crashed out against lucky loser Lucas Pouille 6-4 6-1.
Also, eight seed Tomas Berdych was well and truly embarrassed when he failed to win a single game against 12th seed David Goffin who dished out a double bagel winning 6-0 6-0. World number one and top seed Novak Djokovic, who is aiming for an unprecedented 30th Masters Series title this week, was also on the end of a bagel yesterday when he lost the first set 6-0 against Thomaz Bellucci, but Djokovic still progressed fighting back to win the next two sets 6-3 6-2.
Second seed Andy Murray is still on course to reach his second consecutive Masters Series final after dispatching Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-4, fifth seed Rafa Nadal had to work extremely hard to dispatch Aussie star Nick Kyrgios 6-7 6-2 6-4 while sixth seed Kei Nishikori made light work of beating 11th seed Gasquet, for the second time in as many weeks, 6-1 6-4.
The main quarter-final match today is another showdown between Djokovic and Nadal, which will be their 49th meeting on the ATP Tour in total. Djokovic leads the head-to-head 25-23 and has won the last six in a row all in straight sets, including last year on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters and at the French Open.
Today’s match will be a good indicator for both players chances of winning the French Open, which starts a week on Monday, and while Nadal has improved since last year there’s nothing to suggest he’s near the level of Djokovic yet, so I expect the world number one to prevail again today.
Andy Murray faces 12th seed David Goffin and leads there head-to-head 3-0, which includes last year’s Davis Cup final win on clay, that Murray won in straight sets. I expect the match between 13th seed Dominic Thiem and sixth seed Kei Nishikori to be close and suggest backing the Over 22.5 Games line at 28/29 as one or two tiebreaks and three sets are likely.
Finally, Lucky Loser Lucas Pouille continues to be underestimated by the layers and his recent form on clay suggests he has a decent chance of causing another upset today against veteran Juan Monaco, who he beat in straight sets on clay at Hamburg last year.