Roberto Bautista Agut over Novak Djokovic
I am not convinced Djokovic is at his best. In fact, I know he’s not. Last week in Indian Wells he was horrible in a straight set loss to solid German Philipp Kohlschreiber, and he has been less than dominant this week. He needed a first set tiebreaker to move past Bernie Tomic, whose groundstrokes looked like they belonged on one of the WTA courts, and went three sets with Federico Delbonis last round. RBA, on the other hand, has fought through both Janko Tipsarevic and Fabio Fognini in straight sets, and has looked stronger. I know it’s always tough to bet against the #1 player in the world, but over the past four matches these guys have split the matches. Yes, Djokovic holds a 7-2 lifetime record against the Spaniard, but lately they’ve been on the same plane. I’m taking a shot that The Joker is mediocre and goes down. Of course, if he wins, I’ll look foolish. It won’t be the first time…or the last.
John Isner over Kyle Edmund
I was surprised that Brit Kyle Edmund took out Milos Raonic, and even more surprised that he did it in straight sets. By breaking Raonic once each set Edmund showed that he can take on big servers like Raonic….and Isner. But frankly, Isner is serving better than Raonic, as Raonic had to have his shoulder worked on several times during that match. Isner’s serve is just too technically superior to either break down or to cause the 6’10” ex-Georgia Bulldog any pain. I look for Isner, the defending Champion, to move on.
Nikoloz Baslashvili over Felix Auger-Aliassime
FA2 sure looked great in his Third-Round win over Hubert Hurkacz when he took out the Pole in straight sets. But FA2 is not your average everyday 18-year-old. He’s 6’4”, 195 pounds of solid professionalism, and he’s a threat not only soon, but now. Still, Basilashvili is a 27-year-old solid professional from Georgia (the country, not the state) who resides in the Top 20 and is as tough a tennis player as there is. This will probably be a battle, but I think Basilashvili takes out the classy young Canadian.
Nick Kyrgios over Borno Coric
If you’re reading this you know that picking Nick Kyrgios anytime, anywhere is a pick loaded with dynamite. He may show up and want to finish the match in under an hour, but the thing is, you never know if he wants to win or not. Here in Miami he has looked like the good Nick who wants to compete and win. If the bad Nick shows up, all bets are off. Does it matter than Coric is ranked 13th in the world, is solid as a rock, and is playing well? Not at all. It all depends on Kyrgios.
Roger Federer over Daniil Medvedev
This match is not a lock. Although Federer holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over the Russian, Medvedev is coming into this match 17-5 on the year after spanking Adrian Mannarino 2 and 1 and then winning the two out of three tiebreakers played against 7’0” American Reilly Opelka, the third one 7-0. Federer has not looked his dominating self, needing three sets to oust Radu Albot, but seemed better in his win against Filip Krajinovic. I like Federer here, obviously, but this match will be close, and if Medvedev really pushes, you never know…
Stefanos Tsitsipas over Denis Shapovalov
This will be the best Men’s Fourth Round match, hands down. These guys both play with flair and are justifiably fan favorites. What adds to the match is that Shapovalov, the Canadian teenager, is lefthanded, and that changes all the angles and normal patterns played when two righties play. There isn’t much I can say about these two guys; you just have to watch them to play to appreciate them. I’m going with the Greek God because he’s further along in his development, but it’ll be the match of the tournament.
David Goffin over Frances Tiafoe
After watching Tiafoe cramp towards the end of his 7-6, 7-6 victory over Miomir Kecmanovic I thought for sure he’d cramp and have to throw in the towel against Spain’s retiring David Ferrer. But Ferrer, who has made his career out of simply out-battling his opponents over almost two decades was simply not at his best last night and made enough errors that Big Fo rolled to a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 victory. Although the American did sweat like crazy, he showed no signs of cramping, and actually seemed to get better and stronger as the match went on. Sure, he was helped by a bunch of uncharacteristic mistakes that the Spaniard made, but it looked to me like those mistakes were made because Ferrer felt like he needed to push Tiafoe around, and not just go down the center of the court. When he cut things too close, his mistakes added up, and it didn’t help that Tiafoe hit about eight phenomenal drop shots that the aging Ferrer couldn’t get to. So why am I picking Goffin? Simple. The Belgium has been dominant here winning two matches in straight sets, and he holds a 3-0 career advantage over the 21-year-old, which means everything.