The 2008 gold medalist Rafael Nadal of Spain has advanced to the quarter finals in Rio as he took out the stylish Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6(6), 6-3 on center court a day after play resumed following the washout on Wednesday. He has been joined by his fellow countryman Roberto Bautista Agut who took out the in form left handed veteran Giles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-6(4).
Nadal and Simon traded service breaks twice in the first set which was decided in a tie-breaker. Simon trailed 1-5 but then took the next four points to level the tie-break at 5-5. Nadal then went into top gear and after winning the next two points to seal the first set in seventy six minutes raced to a 4-0 lead in the second with two service breaks.
Simon got a break back in the eighth game, but the Spaniard wasted little time breaking in the very next game to win in two hours and three minutes. He will now play the local favourite Thomaz Bellucci who kept Brazil’s hopes alive as he beat the no. 8 seeded David Goffin of Belgium 7-6(10), 6-4 in two hours and one minute. Goffin could only convert on two out of eight break points in the first set while Bellucci converted both the break points he had in the first set. The lengthy tie-break was won by the 54th ranked Brazilian 12-10.
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina who caused the biggest upset of the tournament on Sunday beating Novak Djokovic, had to come from behind after dropping the first set in a tie-break to the little known Taro Daniel of Japan before winning the next two sets with relative ease 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-2 to set up a meeting against Bautista Agut.
The 2012 gold medal winner in London Andy Murray survived a major scare against the enigmatic Italian 6-1, 2-6, 6-3. There was little indication of the drama to come as Murray raced to a 5-0 lead in the opening set which he clinched 6-1 in 30 minutes. He then broke in the third game but Fognini who played a lengthy three set match against the Frenchman Benoit Paire then reeled of eight consecutive games to lead 3-0 in the deciding set. Murray fought back in style as he himself reeled off six consecutive games to finally win in two hours and ten minutes.
Murray’s opponent in the last eight will be the lone American left in the draw, Steve Johnson who was too strong for the fatigued Evgeny Donskoy of Russia who had upset the veteran Spaniard David Ferrer in the previous round. Johnson won 6-1,6-1. Equally impressive was the fourth seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan who outlasted the Slovak Andrej Martin 6-2,6-2 in just one hour and eight minutes.
Gael Monfils continued his impressive form as he defeated the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia in a tightly contested three set match. The Washington winner dropped the first set in a tie-break but rallied to take the last two and next faces Nishikori in the last eight. The final score for Monfils against Cilic was 6(6)-7, 6-3, 6-4
Following is the line up for the last eight with my pick mentioned first:-
Juan Martin Del Potro v. Roberto Bautista Agut (10)
Rafael Nadal (3) v. Thomaz Bellucci
Kei Nishikori (4) v. Gael Monfils (6)
Andy Murray (2) v. Steve Johnson
In the women’s section of the draw Madison Keys of U.S.A., Monica Puig of Puerto Rico and the two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova had lopsided straight sets wins to advance to the semi finals. Keys beat the Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1. Puig had no problems beating the German Laura Siegmund 6-1, 6-1, while Kvitova took out Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina; the conqueror of Serena Williams, dropping only two games in the process before wrapping up a 6-2, 6-0 win.
The Australian Open champion and Wimbledon finalist Angelique Kerber won the last match of the day on center court against Johanna Konta of Great Britain. Kerber was in dominant form as she won the match 6-1, 6-2
The line up for the ladies semi final is as under with my pick mentioned first:-
Petra Kvitova v. Monica Puig
Angelique Kerber v. Madison Keys
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]