Saturday, 22 April 2017

Novak gone - Rafa set for No 10

The Monte Carlo quarter finals delivered three expected results but another big upset.

Rafa Nadal did what was needed to remove unseeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman from the tournament, but Diego managed to break Nadal's serve four times for the match and tested the nine times winner of this event more than anyone had predicted.

The Andy Murray conqueror, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, knocked another Grand Slam title winner out of contention, this time Marin Cilic.  
A dominant first set, rooted in a consistent serve - 84% first delivery and no break points faced - saw Cilic having to do something in the second set to stay alive.
Cilic took the second set in a tie break, his overall serving stats much better than they had been.
Sadly for Croatia, that's where the comeback stopped.  Ramos-Vinolas continued his consistent approach and simply watched Cilic fall over at critical times.

6-2 6-7 6-2 and Albert has a semi final appointment with France's Lucas Pouille.  

Pouille was heading for defeat at the hands of Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas who led 0-6 6-3 5-4 and serving for the match.
Cuevas stumbled badly and games were 5-5.  Another chance was wasted with a break point in the next Pouille service game.  The eleven seed saved it and led 6-5.
Cuevas again failed at the line, presenting victory to Pouille.

Nadal was meant to play Novak Djokovic in his semi final.  Djokovic was pencilled in for an expected sixth win out of six clashes with David Goffin.
However the Belgian was at the top of his game, racing to a first set win 6-2.  His down the line shots for winners, on both sides, were exquisite and throwing Novak completely off balance, something unusual to see.

Down another break 1-2 in set two, a straight sets exit was staring the second seed in his face.  To his credit, Djokovic lifted his game and rattled off four successive games and won the set 6-3.
Riding the momentum, Novak clinched the early break in the decider, and at 4-2 had chances to achieve a double break.  
Instead Goffin contributed a special run of brilliance to hold serve and break for 4-4.

From that point it was catch up for Djokovic and he battled to hold serve, saving many break points.  At 5-6 he saved a bagful of match points, wasted game points, but finally relented to the Goffin pressure.

Goffin achieved possibly his finest victory 6-2 3-6 7-5 and now faces his biggest challenge - Nadal - with a realistic belief that he can win that as well.

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