Monte Carlo Quarterfinal Previews: Djokovic, Nadal lead field of eight

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Novak Djokovic lost to David Goffin in three heartbreaking sets. (AP)

Marin Cilic [5] vs. Albert Ramos-Violas [15]

Cilic is one of the less-known residents of Monte Carlo, but the connection hasn’t done him much good; he was just 10-8 in his adopted hometown coming into this week. Judging by Cilic’s impressively one-sided win over Tomas Berdych (and his former coach, Goran Ivansevic), that could be changing. Ramos-Viñolas is coming off an even bigger win, over top seed Andy Murray, but Cilic leads their head to head 3-1, and he won their only meeting on clay.

Winner: Cilic

Lucas Pouille [11] vs. Pablo Cuevas [16]

“Two guys named Pablo” almost did it again on Thursday. Cuevas and Pablo Carreño Busta, who made surprise runs to the quarterfinals in Indian Wells last month, looked set to repeat that achievement in Monte Carlo. Cuevas played one of the most masterful matches of his career in upsetting Stan Wawrinka in straight sets, while Carreño Busta appeared poised to sneak past Novak Djokovic in the third set. Alas for the Spaniard, he let that chance slip. But the Uruguayan moves on; at age 31, ranked 27th, he could be coming into his own. Cuevas and Pouille have never played.

Winner: Cuevas

Novak Djokovic [2] vs. David Goffin [10]

That which does not kill you only makes you stronger, right? We’ll find out when Djokovic squares off against Goffin in the showcase third match on Friday. Djokovic has engineered narrow escapes in each of his first two rounds, 7-5 in the third over Gilles Simon and 6-4 in the third over Carreño Busta. Can he come back less than 24 hours later and survive what’s sure to be another slog with Goffin? Probably. While the Belgian has pushed him hard on a couple of occasions, the Serb leads their head to head 5-0.

Winner: Djokovic

Rafael Nadal [4] vs. Diego Schwartzman

Funny how killer draws on paper can look a lot less intimidating once the tournament begins. As of Monday, it seemed as if Nadal would have to walk a tightrope to reach the semis in Monte Carlo: First, Kyle Edmund; then, Alexander Zverev; then, possibly, Grigor Dimitrov. But while Edmund was indeed a tough out, Zverev was MIA for their third-round match on Thursday and Dimitrov is long gone. Instead, Rafa will face unseeded Diego Schwartzman in the last quarterfinal on Friday. Schwartzman is a shot-maker, but he’s also 0-5 in sets played against Nadal on hard courts. At 5’7”, he’s going to be hard-pressed to break that streak on clay.

Winner: Nadal

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