Three out of four quarter-final line ups have gone according to the seedings at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters 1000 and surprisingly the one that did not materialize was the much anticipated repeat of last years all Swiss final as both the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka and the loosing finalist Roger Federer were bundled out in straight sets by the Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov and the mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils respectively at the Monte Carlo country club on Thursday.
Four time finalist at this event, Federer has only Monte Carlo and Rome ATP 1000 missing on his resume, lost to Monfils 6-4, 7-6(5) as he joined Wawrinka on the sidelines, routed in straight sets by Dmitrov, 6-1, 6-2. Federer held a 5-3 lead in the second set tie-break only for Monfils to claim the next four points to seal the match. It means Federer will have to wait till the inaugural ATP 250 event in Istanbul, Turkey to claim his 200th match win on clay. Monfils had beaten Federer at last year’s Davis Cup final and also held a two set lead against the Swiss maestro at the US Open 2014 before losing in five sets. No such problems for the world number one Novak Djokovic who beat the Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4,6-0 to set up a meeting with the reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia who was a winner over the Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga 6-3, 7-6(5).
The Spaniards Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer set up a rematch of last years quarter-final which Ferrer won, but both men had to grind out hard fought three set wins against the American John Isner and France’s Gilles Simon respectively. Nadal saved two set points in the first set which he won in a tie-breaker over the 15th seeded Isner before prevailing 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3; while Ferrer advanced with a 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-1 win over the 10th seeded Simon. Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic set up a meeting between one another by beating their Spanish opponents in the round of 16. Berdych beat Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(7), 6-4; while Raonic outlasted the veteran Tommy Robredo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
The quarter-finals to be played on Friday with my picks mentioned first alongwith the head to head records :-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Marin Cillic (8); Djokovic leads 11-0.
David Ferrer (5) v. Rafael Nadal (3); Nadal leads 22-6.
Milos Raonic (4) v. Tomas Berdych (6); Raonic leads 3-1.
Grigor Dmitrov (9) v. Gael Monfils (14); Monfils leads 2-1.
Nadal has struggled this year and while the players find their feets on clay Ferrer who has already won three titles would fancy his chances against his illustrious opponent who won the event 8 years in a row from 2005 to 2012. Nadal is 51-3 at this event and his 46 match winning streak was ended by Novak Djokovic who won the 2013 title clash and then Ferrer beat him in straight sets in last years quarter-final. Djokovic has a clean record against Cillic who missed the first two months of 2015 as he was sidelined by shoulder injury. Looks like the other semi-final could well be between the stars of the future as both Dimitrov and Raonic are seeded above their respective opponents Monfils and Berdych.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]