In his first match on clay in three years, Federer dispatched Richard Gasquet in just 52 minutes. No one else but the GOAT could possibly fathom such a result given the circumstances.
Federer will now face off against another talented Frenchman, Gael Monfils, who hit one of the greatest shots in tennis history on Wednesday:
This is the Federer test we have been waiting for. Monfils has looked tremendous all season, racking up 18 wins against just four losses. The two have played 13 times, with Federer owning a not-so-lopsided 9-4 advantage.
This is as good a chance to defeat Federer as any. Monfils will need to take control of the points early and make this a physical contest. La Monf loves to scramble and play breathtaking defense, but against Federer he will need to be the aggressor. Look for Federer to use his unequaled variety and all-court game to keep Monfils on his heels and off balance.
Federer is a comprehensive favorite according to both Vegas oddsmakers and UTR data, but this match will likely be a battle from the start. In the end, look for Federer to advance to the quarterfinals in three close sets.
With a different draw, this match could have surely been a final. Luckily for us, Bertens and Kvitova, two of the hottest players in the world, will face off in the night session quarterfinal.
Kvitova has won nine of her last 10 matches, including a tough three-set victory over Bertens last week in Stuttgart. Kvitova is backing up her humungous serve with rock-solid groundstrokes and incredible movement for someone of her stature. The same goes for Bertens, who might be serving better than anyone else on tour at the moment.
For Bertens to exact her revenge, she will need to take control of the rallies. Given time, and the chance to move forward, Kvitova is unstoppable, even on clay. For Bertens to win, she will have to play a rock-solid match from start to finish, and smother Kvitova from the get-go. Look for Kvitova to notch another win over the talented Dutchwoman and advance to the semifinal.
Kvitova has her sights firmly set on the world No. 1 ranking, and defending last year's Madrid champion points is a great place to start.