Breaking Down Quarterfinal Matchups at the 2014 Barcelona Open
We are down to the quarterfinals at the 2014 Barcelona Open. Rafael Nadal is looking to win his fourth title in a row here and ninth title in Barcelona overall.
His toughest competition went down early.
After taking out Nadal in Monte Carlo, second-seeded David Ferrer was upset by Teymuraz Gabashvili in his first match. The Russian has carried this momentum into the quarterfinals.
Third-seeded Fabio Fognini also lost in the first round. He retired down 6-0, 4-0 against Santiago Giraldo.
However, plenty of tricky opponents are still standing in the way of Nadal's quest for a ninth title in Barcelona.
Let's take a look at the quarterfinal matchups.
Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Nicolas Almagro (6)
Nicolas Almagro will be looking to avenge his finals loss a year ago and also break through against Nadal for the first time in his career.
Rafa is 10-0 against his fellow Spaniard. Almagro has only taken two sets off Nadal in their 10 meetings.
Almagro had a nice win over Fernando Verdasco in the last round, but he will need to play his best tennis and get an off-day from Nadal to have a chance.
The bad news for Almagro is that Nadal appears to be finding his game once again. According to ATPWorldTour.com, Nadal had this to say after his win over Ivan Dodig: "I think I improved everything in my game a little bit, I'm happy with the way I played. I was a little bit more aggressive with more control on my shots and changing direction better than I did yesterday. I was able to hit a few winners with the right confidence. That's the important thing for me."
Almagro has not given Rafa much trouble in the past, and I do not expect that to change here.
Nadal in straight sets
Santiago Giraldo vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (10)
Santiago Giraldo will be looking to make it to his third clay-court semifinal this year. After an impressive win over Tommy Robredo in Houston, he will look to take out another seed in Barcelona.
The Colombian reached the quarterfinals after winning a marathon-match, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 over Dominic Thiem.
Philipp Kohlschreiber will try to defend his points from his semifinal appearance in 2013. He beat Jurgen Melzer, 7-5, 6-3 in the last round.
He will be the fresher of the two players, but Giraldo won their previous meeting. It was also on clay and went three sets.
This match could go either way, but I am going with the fresher Kohlschreiber in a close one.
Kohlschreiber in three sets
Marin Cilic (12) vs. Kei Nishikori (4)
Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic both play their best tennis on hard courts. Just one of their combined 15 titles has come on clay.
However, both can hold their own on the surface.
Nishikori looked like he was going to cruise by Andrey Golubev after winning the first set 6-0, but he went down 4-1 in the second. However, he recovered to win the next five games to reach the quarterfinals.
According to ATPWorldTour.com, here is what Nishikori had to say after the match: "After the injury I had a good two weeks training. Today was a difficult match for me. I was winning, playing perfectly in the first set and he was playing much better in the second. I was 4-1 down, but I tried to keep concentrating."
On the other hand, Cilic battled past Tommy Robredo 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-6(5). It will be interesting to see how Cilic comes out after such a physically taxing match.
Nishikori leads their head-to-head matchup 4-2, but they have never met on clay. He has won four of the five matches since 2010 and will be the fresher player in this one.
Nishikori in three sets
Ernests Gulbis (9) vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili
Teymuraz Gabashvili pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament when he took down David Ferrer. He followed that up with a win over Inigo Cervantes to reach the quarterfinals.
This is a surprising result for the Russian, who has never had much success on the surface. His win percentage stood at just 36 percent before Barcelona on clay.
Ernests Gulbis advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Albert Montanes.
The Latvian struggled against Gabashvili early in his career. He lost all four of their meetings from 2004-2008. However, Gulbis did win their last meeting in 2010, 6-1, 6-4.
Gulbis is a much better player than he was back then—he is now ranked 22nd in the world. He is the better player overall and on clay.
Gulbis in straight sets
All stats courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com.