Breaking Down the Quarterfinal Matchups at the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open
The 2014 Mutua Madrid Open lost two of its top four seeds before the tournament even started. Novak Djokovic withdrew after his right arm injury flared up yet again.
On the other hand, Roger Federer withdrew to be with his wife for the birth of his second set of twins. Congratulations to the Federer family.
Almost all of the other top players in the world made the trip to Madrid. Defending champion Rafael Nadal has made it through to the quarterfinals. He is looking to capture his first Masters title of the year.
After a great showing in Monte Carlo, Stanislas Wawrinka was upset in his first match by Dominic Thiem. Andy Murray also went down early to qualifier Santiago Giraldo.
Let's take a look at the quarterfinal matchups.
Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Tomas Berdych (6)
Rafael Nadal has dropped just six games on his way to the quarterfinals. His next opponent should give him more of a fight.
According to ATPWorldTour.com, Nadal had this to say about playing Tomas Berdych:
Here even more with the altitude. The ball flies very fast and his serve is very difficult to break. My goal is to try to be aggressive. I know that to play against him I can't leave many spaces on the court. If he strikes the ball in comfortable positions, I'm nearly dead, because he has a really high ball speed.
Berdych is a difficult adversary for most, but Nadal seems to have figured him out. Berdych held a 3-1 lead early on in their careers, but it has been all Nadal since.
Rafa has beaten Berdych the last 16 times that they have met. At that point, it is natural to start believing you simply cannot beat someone. Nadal is likely in Berdych's head.
Nadal has been struggling in recent weeks, but I still don't see Berdych ending the streak.
Prediction: Nadal in straight sets
Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Santiago Giraldo (Q)
Santiago Giraldo continued his hot play in Madrid. He made it through qualifying and proceeded to knock out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray.
According to ATPWorldTour.com, Murray had this to say about his match against Giraldo: "He played very well from start to finish; didn't make many mistakes. I didn't make it hard enough for him in the second set. Towards the end, I didn't put enough pressure on him to force him to make errors. He dictated most of the points and deserved to win."
The Columbian is now 12-2 since the start of April.
Roberto Bautista Agut will meet him in the quarterfinals. Both players are in their first ever ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
They came into Madrid ranked No. 45 and No. 46 in the world, respectively. The pair also shared the same record at 15-11. This has the makings of a very close match.
However, I am going with one of the hottest players on tour. His confidence simply cannot be matched by the Spaniard, giving Giraldo the slight edge.
Prediction: Giraldo in three sets
Kei Nishikori (10) vs. Feliciano Lopez
Kei Nishikori is playing some of the best tennis of his career right now. After a win in Barcelona, he has made it to the quarterfinals in Madrid.
He needed two tiebreakers to advance past Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 7-6(5). He will be taking on Feliciano Lopez next.
The Spaniard advanced with a walkover. After a huge win over Stanislas Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem fell ill and could not play against Lopez.
According to ATPWorldTour.com, here is what Lopez had to say about playing Nishikori: "He's a complicated player. He's very fast. He returns the ball very well. He comes from a moment where he has a lot of confidence. He has won Barcelona, which is a really good test on clay. Only great players can win there on clay."
It will be a challenge to pull off the upset, but Lopez has played well against him in the past. They have split the head-to-head matchups 2-2.
Lopez won their only career meeting on clay, but that match was way back in 2011. Nishikori has been one of the top players on tour this year at 25-4.
Ultimately, I don't think Lopez will be consistent enough to keep up with Nishikori.
Prediction: Nishikori in straight sets
David Ferrer (5) vs. Ernests Gulbis
David Ferrer reached the quarterfinals with a win over the always difficult John Isner. The Spaniard will take on Ernests Gulbis in the next round.
According to ATPWorldTour.com, Ferrer had this to say about playing the Latvian: "He's an irregular player, but when he's playing well he can beat the best ones. That's what he's been doing this year. He's been more regular than ever before, and I have to play very [consistent], as I did today, to be able to have possibilities."
He was able to return well against Isner and will have to do so again against Gulbis to win.
Gulbis reached the quarterfinals with a win over Marin Cilic. He has not beaten Ferrer before, but he did take a set off him in their last match. However, Ferrer will be the heavy favorite on clay.
Gulbis will need to take some risks, as he doesn't stand a chance trying to out-rally the Spaniard.
In the end, Ferrer will grind down Gulbis to come out with a win.
Prediction: Ferrer in three sets
**All stats courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com