On Wednesday, the top seeds moved to the pre quarterfinals round. Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Nadal, Thiem, Bellucci, Gasquet and Ferrer, all won in straight sets. Kyrgios and Jeremy Chardy caused upsets. They took out the 10th and 15th seeded Raonic and Bautista Agut, also in straight sets. Some blockbuster clashes await on Thursday. Here’s the preview of the matches to watch out for
1. Roger Federer(3) vs Dominic Thiem(13)
This is going to be one cracker of a match. Federer and Thiem have played each other once, the lone meeting coming at this year’s Brisbane Open where Federer outclassed Thiem, with a loss of mere five games. This will be their first meeting on clay. It will be very interesting to see how Federer reacts to Thiem’s game on clay, since the youngster has had a pretty good season by his standards. Federer showed no signs of rust as such in his previous match, but he said that he is still not confident about things going his way.
Prediction: Federer to win in two tough sets. The first one can be expected to go to a tiebreak. But Thiem has beaten Nadal on clay this year and might come out well. But again, Federer’s enormous experience will help him on his way through, provided his back is not acting up. Should Federer’s fitness be compromised, Thiem is too good of a player to not make the 17 slam winner, pay.
2. Kei Nishikori (6) vs Richard Gasquet (11)
This will be the 8th meeting between the two. Gasquet leads the head to head record 6-1. Nishikori’s lone win against the Frenchman came a week ago in Madrid, on clay. He had to battle it out against Troicki in the previous round. He turned a set’s deficit around and won his match. Gasquet had a rather easygoing win against Seppi. This match will also be an interesting one.
Prediction: Nishikori to win in straight sets since he won their last match and is better on this surface than Gasquet.
3. Novak Djokovic(1) vs Thomaz Bellucci
The two have played each other five times, with Djokovic winning all the meetings. But their last meeting on clay wasn’t an easy win. Djokovic had dropped first set last year in the same round against the same opponent. And his previous round victory was harder than it was supposed to be. He was down a break in the second but came back to win 7-5, 7-5. Bellucci has played well here, stunning Monfils in his first match and comfortably beating Mahut in the second.
Prediction: Djokovic looks to get back to his best, match by match. He will move to the next round, winning in straight sets, comfortably. will move to the quarterfinals, winning in a routine fashion with minor hiccups.
Other Matches and Their Predictions
1. Andy Murray(2) beats Jeremy Chardy: Easy victory for Murray. He will win in straight sets and lead their head to head record by 8-1.
2. Stan Wawrinka (4) beats Juan Monaco: Wawrinka has won all their meetings and will win this one too. Majority of their meetings have come on clay, including last year’s match right here in the same round, where Stan won after losing the first set.
3. Tomas Berdych(8) beats David Goffin(12): Berdych to maintain perfect winning record against his Belgian opponent, by beating him in straight sets. He leads their head to head by two wins to none.
4. David Ferrer(9) beats Lucas Pouille: Ferrer to win in straight sets. He leads head to head by one win to zero. They played each other earlier this year in Miami. It was a hard earned win for Ferrer but it will be way easier for him on clay.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Rafael Nadal(5) vs Nick Kyrgios
This, without a doubt is the match of the day. Nadal is in pretty strong form, having won 15 of his past 16 matches on clay this season. He beat Kohlschreiber in straight sets in the previous round. On the other hand, Kyrgios too is riding pretty high on confidence, especially after his straight sets demolition of Raonic.
The Australian will take heart from his win against Nadal at Wimbledon two years ago, Nadal will look to not making even the slightest of mistakes or errors and carry on his strong form, on the surface he has owned for over a decade. The two have never played each other on clay. It will be interesting to see what the Aussie bad boy does to counter Nadal’s brilliant approach on this surface.
The match will give the fans edge of the seat action, since both of them are on the top of their forms and neither of them will let go easily.
Prediction: Even though Kyrgios is playing well, that won’t be enough to beat Nadal. Nadal will unload all his weapons and emerge out as the winner of the match, in two very close or three sets. Expect Nadal to be made to work hard for it since Kyrgios is a fighter.