Day 9, RG 2017 – Class from Muzza and Stan, ADV Halep!

I thought Muzza was class today! He weathered an early Khachanov storm and stepped his game up at the right moments. The Russian came out hitting big as you would expect, Jim Courier referred to him as a “young Marat Safin”, there is something in that comment, certainly style and technique! Muzza looked more than solid today and he is starting to look like the Murray we know! The focus looks back! He plays Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals after the Japanese put an end to Fernando Verdasco’s exploits! Verdasco said nothing worked for him today, it is not the first time that’s been said in fairness. This has been a good tournament for Nando however, with wins over Sascha and Cuevas. Nishikori recovered from a slow start to beat the Spaniard in 4. He appears to be limping his way (almost)liiiiiiitteraly, through the tournament at the moment. Surely if Muzza plays as he has the last few rounds, he will take care of him! Stan put in another almighty impressive performance against Monfils, this has been top notch from Stan so far! He played the big points really well today and for two sets this was a real contest. Monfils probably suffered from a lack of matches in the third, there are still times where I want to see him go for it just a bit more on the big points. This was decent quality but Stan stood up to the test again, I still wonder if he has peaked too soon? Murray could be peaking at the right time in this half! Stan will have another tough one in his quarter-final. His opponent Marin Cilic looks to be on fire this week, Big Kev retired in the second set after pulling a ‘hammy’. What was interesting here though were Clic’s comments after. Firstly, he said how he thought it was great knowing he was still fresh and playing well at this stage of the tournament. More importantly though, he talked about how he grew up on clay but it was only last year he felt he improved on the surface. I will have to stop referring to it as his weakest surface as results on the ATP Tour are suggesting he has improved on the clay. He did win the juniors here back in 2005 let us not forget.

Simona Halep hammered Carla Suarez Navarro in an hour. This was pretty disappointing in the end and you would have expected this to be a lot more competitive. In the form Halep is in, it will take a big effort to stop her. Nerves could still play a big part in her bid and how she deals with them could play an even bigger part. Right now she goes into the quarter-final against Elina Svitolina as a clear favourite. There wasn’t much between these two a few rounds ago but the fact the Ukrainian trailed *2-5 in the decider to Petra Martic today and got out of jail has meant the gap has widened. Martic got tight today, she actually got to within two points of winning at 30/0. Though gutsy from Svitolina, the Romanian certainly goes into that one in the better form now! Caroline Garcia won an intriguing match on the Chatrier against Alize Cornet. The match was built on the fact the two (amongst others) weren’t talking or Garcia wasn’t talking to them. In fairness, she performed today. She bullied Cornet who never seemed to get going, she rallied towards the end of the second but it was too little too late. Good composure from Garcia, we all know the pressure the players are under in these sort of matches with such media attention. I think she will really like her chances in her quarter-final against Karolina Pliskova. The Czech just getting over the line against Veronica Cepede Royg. The Paraguayan had Pliskova in a lot of trouble with the quality and variation of her hitting. Ultimately, when it mattered most it alluded her, especially in the middle of the decider. It has been some breakthrough week for Cepede Royg when she reflects on it but she had a chance here. Pliskova will be more comfortable in the match up with Garcia, in terms of like for like. I just think that Garcia might win this one!

Andy Del Potro

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