Quarter-finals day in Monte-Carlo was a long one with Milos Raonic and Stanislas Wawrinka kicking off the first quarter-final at 10.30am local time and Novak Djokovic and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez finishing off Good Friday’s proceedings at gone 8pm. I can’t remember ever seeing a match in Monte-Carlo being played under the lights. Their schedule starts early, but personally I prefer it over the inclusion of night matches. The Australian Open final rematch was dashed by David Ferrer, but we do have a third Federer v Djokovic match of 2014. Can’t wait…
1. Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic
I’ve written so many previews for Federer-Djokovic matches over the past couple of years, but it is probably my favourite head-to-head on the ATP tour right now. Roger Federer produced a fine comeback in his quarter-final match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, which he won 2-6 7-6(6) 6-1. He was two points from defeat in a frantic and tense tiebreak but broke the Frenchman’s spirit as he won it and then strolled through the decider as Tsonga rather collapsed mentally. Federer went 0/13 on break points through the first two sets and let slip three set points before winning the second set; however this was a fine performance mentally to come back and I completely support a tweet by Darren Cahill midway during the match. I was stunned when I saw Federer lost the first set, but winning through this match the way he did was commendable.
Novak Djokovic was also pushed to three sets in a brutal quarter-final match with Guillermo Garcia Lopez, 4-6 6-3 6-1. I cannot admit to watching many GGL matches, but the first two sets surely featured some of the best tennis he has played in his entire career. The rallies were tremendous at times and Garcia-Lopez’s defence was on a par with Djokovic for a time The Spaniard had three break points in the second set, but Djokovic displayed his true awesomeness to stave them off and carve out opportunities of his own on the GGL serve. The 6-1 third set scoreline is terribly misleading because Garcia-Lopez’s level did not dip that much at all. It just demonstrated how well Djokovic played.
There were reports at the beginning of the tournament that Djokovic was struggling with a wrist injury. There were certainly no signs of it during his quarter-final match although if there is an issue then after this gruelling match he may be feeling something tomorrow morning. Djokovic and Federer have split their 2014 matches with Federer winning a three set semi-final in Dubai and then Djokovic coming back to win the Indian Wells title in what remains as probably my favourite ATP match of 2014. Their matches are always entertaining and I am excited to see them play on clay, a first time since the 2012 Roland Garros semi-final when Federer broke Djokovic’s epic winning streak. Their last four matches have gone the distance; however I am going for a straight sets win for Djokovic, who is definitely playing the best tennis of any ATP player right now.
Prediction: Djokovic d. Federer in 2 tight sets
2. David Ferrer v Stanislas Wawrinka
Friday’s big surprise saw David Ferrer hold his nerve (just) and defeat Rafael Nadal with a 7-6(1) 6-4 victory. This was a huge win for Ferrer, who had lost 17 consecutive matches against Nadal on clay stretching all the way back to their FIRST ever encounter in 2004 in Stuttgart. I wasn’t even following tennis then! Ferrer will take on Stanislas Wawrinka in the semi-finals. Stan put in another supreme performance to take out Milos Raonic, 7-6(6) 6-2. For full thoughts on that match then check out my recap HERE. While the Djokovic-Federer semi-final I felt quite decisive with my prediction, Wawrinka-Ferrer I am sitting on the 50/50 fence. Of their seven clay court matches, Ferrer leads 5-2. Wawrinka won the most recent of those in the 2013 Oeiras final, 6-1 6-4. Stan also won their last match-up, which was at the World Tour Finals. I won’t be surprised whoever prevails; I am giving a bare, minimal edge to Stanley.
Prediction: Wawrinka d. Ferrer in 3 tight sets