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In this March 15, 2019, file photo, Rafael Nadal, of Spain, hits a volley to Karen Khachanov, of Russia, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California.
In this March 15, 2019, file photo, Rafael Nadal, of Spain, hits a volley to Karen Khachanov, of Russia, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California.|Mark J. Terrill | Associated Press
Tennis

Tennis: Abrams picks Friday Quarterfinals @ the ATP Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters 1000 - Djokovic v Medvedev, Nadal v Pella, & Coric v Fognini

There isn’t much to say when Rafa plays on clay

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Novak Djokovic over Daniil Medvedev
Medvedev played a terrific match yesterday in taking out Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 to run his record to 4-0 over the Greed God. I picked Medvedev to upset Tsitsipas because the Russian had a 3-0 record over Stefanos, and that kind of mastery usually continues. In today’s match, The Joker holds a 4-0 lifetime record in his rivalry with Medvedev, and in the same way that I thought prior records dictated that Medvedev would beat Tsitsipas, I think that the world’s #1 player will beat the 23-year-old from Moscow because the match patterns have already been set. Djokovic’s mastery over Medvedev will continue.

Rafa Nadal over Guido Pella
Guido Pella advanced to the quarters with a nice three-set win over Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 yesterday, to set up this duel with the world’s best clay court player. Unfortunately for the Argentine, he’s running up against the buzz saw that Rafa is on clay. Nadal had little trouble with talented Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-1, as he just ground out point after point. There isn’t much to say when Rafa plays on clay. You just have to watch him and appreciate his level of excellence, and realize how much better he is than everyone else when he’s healthy and he plays on the slow stuff. You’ll see it here in this match.

Borna Coric over Fabio Fognini
On a beautiful sun-drenched day in Monte-Carlo, with a nice breeze, and a bevy of Italians erupting in the stands, favorite-son Fabio Fognini pulled his “A” game out of his bag and slowly but surely exerted his dominance over 3rd ranked Sascha Zverev 7-6, 6-1. After a topsy-turvy first set which saw both players try to exert their dominance, and neither able to so, the breaker went to Fognini when Zverev made errors at seemingly the worst time. Zverev had a chance to close out the first set 7-5 but faltered, which lead to those tiebreak errors. Once the tiebreaker was over, Zverev’s body language languished, Fognini started strutting around the court, and the fans from across the border buoyed their boy until he literally ran away with the second set and closed out the match 6-1. Croatia’s Borna Coric simply blew away France’s doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert 4 and 2 with little trouble, setting up this nifty matchup. Fognini is more the gunslinger and shotmaker than Coric is, but Coric is the more solid, consistent player, and unless Fognini can cash in on more fan intervention, this match should go the Croat’s way.