Feliciano Lopez of Spain prevented an eagerly anticipated clash between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, for the first time since Australian Open 2014, as he edged out his illustrious countryman 5-7,6-4,7-6(3) in the round of sixteen at the ATP Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was the second consecutive loss for Nadal against Lopez who also beat him in Beijing in October 2014.
Lopez would now aim to beat Federer for the first time in twelve meetings. The second seeded Swiss (currently ranked third following Murray’s win in Montreal) will need a very strong performance at this event in order to ensure that he is seeded second at the U.S. Open, starting August 31st, 2015, at the Flushing Meadows in New York. Federer who missed Montreal dismissed the South African Kevin Anderson 6-1,6-1.
In the opening match of the day, the top seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia kept his hopes of winning the only ATP 1000 to elude him, alive, with a three set win over the 13th seeded David Goffin of Belgium, 6-4,2-6,6-3. He will now face the other Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka who survived 35 aces from the 36 year old Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-7(2),7-6(5),7-6(5). That would be a rematch of the French Open 2015 final between the two; Wawrinka thwarted Djokovic’s bid for a career slam as he won in four sets to claim his maiden French Open crown to add to the Australian Open 2014 in Melbourne.
Andy Murray who needs to reach the final to be assured of being seeded second in New York, overcame a much improved performance from the slumping Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov, winning in three sets 4-6,7-6(3),7-5. He next faces the in form Richard Gasquet of France who put out Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-5,6-3. Cilic will be defending his crown at the U.S. Open in 10 days time, and the odds are stacked heavily against him as he has struggled since coming back from a shoulder injury at the beginning of the year which forced him to miss the Australian Open.
Tomas Berdych who was knocked out in his first match last week at the Roger’s Cup now looks set to reach another semi-final in a consistent year where he has still to notch his first title. He beat the Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo 6-0,6-1. He next faces the qualifier from Ukraine Alexandr Dolgopolov who ended the run of Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 6-3,3-6,6-4.
The line up for the round of 16 matches with my picks mentioned first as under :-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Stanislas Wawrinka (5) ; Djokovic leads 17-4
Tomas Berdych (6) v. Alexandr Dolgopolov ; Berdych 4-0
Andy Murray (3) v. Richard Gasquet (12); Murray leads 5-3
Roger Federer (2) v. Feliciano Lopez ; Federer leads 11-0
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]