Friday, 31 May 2013

French Open 3rd Round Predictions, Day 7: Djokovic-Dimitrov, Jankovic-Stosur

1. Novak Djokovic v Grigor Dimitrov
Novak Djokovic
Perhaps the most anticpated match of the French Open so far will see Novak Djokovic take on Grigor Dimitrov in an intriguing third rounder.  The Bulgarian caused a huge upset when he defeated Djokovic in an epic second round match in Madrid earlier this month, 7-6(6) 6-7(8) 6-3.  Both enjoyed comfortable second round wins; Djokovic lost just four games against the Argentine Guido Pella, meanwhile Dimitrov reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career as he came through in straight sets against the French wildcard, Lucas Pouille, 6-1 7-6(4) 6-1.  The big difference between this match-up compared to Madrid is that it is a best of five sets, which is significant because Dimitrov was majorly cramping at the end of the second set of their Madrid clash.  Dimitrov has had an easy route through so should be relatively fresh, but I still cannot see him winning three sets against Djokovic.

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Dimitrov in 4 sets

2. Jelena Jankovic v Sam Stosur
The top womens match from all of the 3rd rounders will see Jelena Jankovic take on Sam Stosur.  Jankovic has continued to build on an impressive clay court season as she took out Garbine Muguruza, 6-3 6-0.  This backed up a solid win over Daniela Hantuchova in the first round where JJ recovered from a 5-0 second set deficit to progress in straight sets.  Stosur had a tough match yesterday, but came through very nicely with a 6-4 6-3 win against Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4 6-3.   Jankovic comfortably leads the head-to-head and won in Stuttgart this year when Stosur was not match fit.  The Aussie however did hand a 6-1 6-2 beatdown in the Roland Garros semi-finals on her way to the final in 2010.  This should be a really exciting match as both are playing well and obviously love this tournament.  Whoever wins, I expect to make the quarter-finals and I am going with my gut instinct... JJ.

Prediction - Jankovic to beat Stosur in 3 sets

3. Petra Kvitova v Jamie Hampton
Petra Kvitova
Yesterday saw a real shocker as Petra Kvitova WON A MATCH IN STRAIGHT SETS! Kvitova toiled in her opener against Aravane Rezai, but found a way to get through in straight sets, up against Peng Shuai, 6-4 6-3.  Her opponent in round three will be the flying American, Jamie Hampton, who is enjoying a red hot run of form having made the semi-finals of Brussels and coming out on the right end of a humdinger in round one edging out Lucie Safarova, 9-7 in the decider.  In round two, she beat Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova, 7-5 6-2.  Kvitova's form varies from match to match so its impossible to say how she is going to play in this one.  Hampton has an all-court game, one of the most watchable on the tour and she has built together a string of real confidence wins.  I didn't originally go for this in my predictions, but I am sensing an upset and another win to contribute to a landmark tournament for the American women...

Prediction - Hampton to beat Kvitova in 3 sets

4. Benoit Paire v Kei Nishikori
There are a selection of tasty third rounders on the mens side and I have gone for Benoit Paire up against Kei Nishikori purely because it finished on Thursday and gives me a chance to write the preview in advance ;-) Paire has always been a rather flashy character, but his results have been very consistent of late.  He made the semi-finals in Rome and here he has backed that up with a round three showing at RG, beating Lukas Kubot in straight sets.  I think Nishikori is rather underrated on the tour as he has once again made a third round at a Grand Slam.  He lost a strange second set to Grega Zemlja in which he blew a lead, but managed to come through the third and fourth sets unscathed to progress with a 6-1 5-7 6-1 6-4.   Paire is the kind of character than can feed off the energy of a home crowd, but Nishikori is a really solid customer and if he is free from injury (a big but), then I favour the Japanese to squeak through.

Prediction - Nishikori to beat Paire in 5 sets

Best of the rest: womens 3rd round predictions
Bethanie Mattek-Sands to beat Paula Ormaechea in 2 tight sets
Maria Kirilenko to beat Stefanie Voegele in 2 tight sets
Francesca Schiavone to beat Marion Bartoli in 3 sets
Victoria Azarenka to beat Alize Cornet in 2 tight sets

Sloane Stephens to beat Marina Erakovic in 3 sets
Maria Sharapova to beat Zheng Jie in 2 sets

Best of the rest: mens 3rd round predictions
Philipp Kohlschreiber to beat Victor Hanescu in 4 sets
Tommy Haas to beat John Isner in 4 sets
Mikhail Youzhny to beat Janko Tipsarevic in 5 sets

Rafael Nadal to beat Fabio Fognini in 3 sets
Stanislas Wawrinka to beat Jerzy Janowicz in 3 sets
Richard Gasquet to beat Nikolay Davydenko in 4 sets

My womens draw has been remarkably successful as I correctly predicted 13 out of 16 in the womens bottom half for R3 and 7 of the 8 winners in the top half for R4.  I have benefitted from not going for any major surprises, unlike the mens which has not been so great.  My best prediction of the week so far was going for Paula Ormaechea to make the third round.

Moo's original WTA Roland Garros Predictions
Moo's original ATP Roland Garros Predictions

Thursday, 30 May 2013

French Open 3rd Round Predictions, Day 6: Raonic-Anderson, Errani-Lisicki

Thursday's order of play was interrupted with one of those frigging frustrating stop-start days.  The remainder of the second round matches will kick off Friday's proceedings, but the third round matches should also take place with a much better forecast...

1. Milos Raonic v Kevin Anderson
Milos Raonic
My match of the day is slightly left field as I have gone for the big serving, huge hitting third round clash between Milos Raonic and Kevin Anderson.  Both came through their second round matches in 4 sets; Raonic defeated Michael Llodra on Suzanne Lenglen court, 7-5 3-6 7-6(3) 6-2, meanwhile Anderson rebounded from losing the first set to power through the next three to beat Evgeny Donskoy, 6-7(8) 6-1 7-5 6-2.  Raonic and Anderson have met on one previous occasion in San Jose where Raonic prevailed in a very tight two setter, 7-5 7-6(3).  Raonic has parted company with his long term coach and I believe he is currently under some direction from Ivan Ljubicic, who was in his box yesterday.  I really like Anderson's form this year and he's actually not bad on the clay; he pushed Tomas Berdych to the brink last year and was on the losing end of Berdych in both Madrid and Rome.  A tight match for sure, but I am going for Kevin....

Prediction - Anderson to beat Raonic in 5 sets

2. Sabine Lisicki v Sara Errani
A contrast of styles will grace an intriguing third rounder between Sara Errani and Sabine Lisicki.  I must say I was impressed by Errani's performance on Wednesday as she routed Yulia Putintseva, 6-1 6-1 with a clay court masterclass using drop shots, angles and her opponent's over-eagerness to prevail in super quick time.  Lisicki has certainly steadied the ship in recent months and overcame a competent clay courter in Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, finishing with a real flurry, 6-4 6-0.  The German player will have her eyes firmly set on the grass court season where she is likely to do some damage, but her clay court season may not yet be over.  If she can somehow find the balance between power and patience, she could be a dangerous opponent for the Italian.  I always underestimate Errani and having watched her second round match, I think she might have too many tricks for Sabine...

Prediction - Errani to beat Lisicki in 3 sets

Angelique Kerber
3. Angelique Kerber v Varvara Lepchenko
Moan Barthel was a fearsome opponent for Angelique Kerber in round one, but once she got through that one, her draw has looked kinder and she had no problems in dispatching Jana Cepelova, 6-2 6-2.  In the third round, Kerber will play Varvara Lepchenko, who recorded her second straight sets win of the tournament as she defeated Elena Svitolina, 7-6(5) 6-1.  After a slow start to the year, Lepchenko has posted some solid results on the clay, the highlight being a three set win over Roberta Vinci in Madrid.  Kerber withdrew from Rome so there were a few question marks over how she would compete in Paris, but her first two results suggest she is fighting fit.  Lepchenko is a tough player, who doesn't give you a lot of rhythm; however I think the consistency of the German player will be what brings her through this match.

Prediction - Kerber to beat Lepchenko in 2 tight sets

4. Roger Federer v Julien Benneteau
Roger Federer has lost just 11 games so far in his dream draw with straight sets wins over Pablo Carreno-Busta and Somdev Devvarman.  His next opponent is one that has caused his some mighty problems in the past, Julien Benneteau.  The Frenchman had a dramatic five set win over Tobias Kamke in round two, 7-6(11) 7-5 5-7 0-6 6-4.  Whenever I see Benneteau, he always seems to be injured and he had the trainer out in this one.  Federer has always struggled against Benneteau having lost twice to him and being pushed all the way at Wimbledon in one of the best ATP matches of 2012.  The key to this clash is that it is on clay and that limits Benneteau because he likes a fast court; both his previous wins over Federer have come on fast indoor hard courts (Bercy and Rotterdam).  This should be tougher than his last match, but the Fed express is heading into the last 16...

Prediction - Federer to beat Benneteau in 3 sets

Best of the rest: womens 3rd round predictions
Serena Williams to beat Sorana Cirstea in 2 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Petra Cetkovska in 3 sets
Svetlana Kuznetsova to beat Bojana Jovanovski in 2 tight sets

Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Dinah Pfizenmaier in 2 tight sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Virginie Razzano in 2 sets
Carla Suarez Navarro to beat Monica Puig in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: mens 3rd round predictions
Gael Monfils to beat Tommy Robredo in 4 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Andreas Seppi in 3 sets
David Ferrer to beat Feliciano Lopez in 3 sets

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to beat Jeremy Chardy in 3 tight sets
Marin Cilic to beat Viktor Troicki in 3 sets
Gilles Simon to beat Sam Querrey in 5 sets

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

French Open 2nd Round Predictions, Day 5: Li-Mattek-Sands, Stosur-Mladenovic

1. Li Na v Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Li Na
The 2011 Roland Garros Champion, Li Na has a pretty mean draw this year and she overcame her first challenge with a hard fought 6-3 6-4 victory over the veteran clay courter, Anabel Medina Garrigues.  Her next opponent will be Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who has been on a hot streak of form with 17 wins from her last 23 matches including a final appearance in Kuala Lumpur and a semi-final appearance in the Premier event in Stuttgart.  She enjoyed a really solid win in the first round against Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 6-4 6-1, who can moonball her opponents into submission.  Mattek-Sands was always a player I felt that was mentally weak, but she has really matured in the last year and become a much more solid player.  Li defeated Mattek-Sands in the American's best tournament of the year at Stuttgart, 6-4 6-3.  Li has been a bit shaky in her last few tournaments, but I think she will overcame a tricky match...

Prediction - Li to beat Mattek-Sands in 3 sets

2. Sam Stosur v Kristina Mladenovic
Following a rain drenched opening to Day 3, Sam Stosur was one of the fastest finishers before the rain clouds set in again as she thrashed Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-0 6-2.  Her second round opponent will be the Frenchwoman, Kristina Mladenovic who beat out Lauren Davis, 6-0 7-5.  It was her first ever win at Roland Garros and all in all, she has enjoyed a solid 2013 so far, flourishing at the Paris indoor event where she made the semi-finals.  Stosur and Mladenovic have never played before, but Mladenovic is bound to have a boost playing in front of her crowd.  Stosur has really picked up her form following an injury plagued American hard court season and has always done well at RG.  She has got a really tough draw this year, but I think she should make it into round three where Jelena Jankovic could await...

Prediction - Stosur to beat Mladenovic in 2 tight sets

3. Fernando Verdasco v Janko Tipsarevic
Janko Tipsarevic
It has been a rough clay court season for Janko Tipsarevic and to be honest, a terrible 2013 season so far.  He managed to come through his first round match with Nicolas Mahut in straight sets, which will have given the Serb a smidgeon of confidence.  He faces an uphill struggle though as he takes on Fernando Verdasco in round two, who has started to play a lot better on the clay having made a solid run in Madrid, defeating Milos Raonic and taking Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to three sets.  I am not a fan of either player, but I think you have to take note of their recent form; Verdasco had a solid opener with a straight sets win over Marc Gicquel and I am not even looking at the head-to-head... Verdasco for the win.

Prediction - Verdasco to beat Tipsarevic in 4 sets

4. Maria Sharapova v Eugenie Bouchard
Gael Monfils's epic win over Tomas Berdych on Monday forced Maria Sharapova onto Suzanne Lenglen court to open the defence of her Roland Garros title, but it did not affect her in the slightest as she made a fast start with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Hsieh Su-Wei.  In the second round, Sharapova faces an interesting match against Eugenie Bouchard, who enjoyed her first Grand Slam win over Tsvetana Pironkova overcoming a shaky second set collapse to eventually win in straight sets, 6-1 7-6(2).  I don't expect this to be much of a contest, but it will be a very good test for Bouchard to see how she is developing and where her game is at when matched with the very best on the tour.

Prediction - Sharapova to beat Bouchard in 2 sets

Best of the rest: 2nd round womens predictions
Paula Ormaechea to beat Yaroslava Shvedova in 3 sets
Kaia Kanepi to beat Stephanie Voegele in 2 sets
Maria Kirilenko to beat Ashleigh Barty in 2 sets
Marion Bartoli to beat Mariana Duque-Marino in 3 sets
Francesca Schiavone to beat Kirsten Flipkens in 2 tight sets
Alize Cornet to beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa in 2 tight sets
Victoria Azarenka to beat Annika Beck in 2 sets

Petra Kvitova to beat Peng Shuai in 3 sets
Jamie Hampton to beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in 2 tight sets
Jelena Jankovic to beat Garbine Muguruza in 2 sets
Dominika Cibulkova to beat Marina Erakovic in 3 sets
Sloane Stephens to beat Vania King in 2 sets
Zheng Jie to beat Melanie Oudin in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: 2nd round mens predictions
Novak Djokovic to beat Guido Pella in 3 sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Lucas Pouille in 3 sets
Victor Hanescu to beat Dmitry Tursunov in 4 sets
Philipp Kohlschreiber to beat Yen-Hsun Lu in 3 sets
Tommy Haas to beat Jack Sock in 4 tight sets
John Isner to beat Ryan Harrison in 3 sets
Mikhail Youzhny to beat Federico Del Bonis in 3 sets

Rafael Nadal to beat Martin Klizan in 3 sets
Fabio Fognini to beat Lukas Rosol in 5 sets
Benoit Paire to beat Lukas Kubot in 3 sets
Stanislas Wawrinka to beat Horacio Zeballos in 3 sets
Jerzy Janowicz to beat Robin Haase in 4 sets
Kei Nishikori to beat Grega Zemlja in 3 sets
Nikolay Davydenko to beat Denis Istomin in 5 sets
Richard Gasquet to beat Michael Przysiezny in 3 sets 

My original womens predictions are looking reasonable so far and I managed to correctly predict 29 out of 32 first round results in the bottom half.  The mens has been so-so; a lot of early seeded upsets have flopped rather spectacularly and I lost my first quarter-finalist in Gulbis, who fell to the French magic of Gael Monfils in 4 sets today.

Moo's Original WTA Predictions
Moo's Original ATP Predictions

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

French Open 2nd Round Predictions, Day 4: Monfils-Gulbis, Errani-Putintseva

1. Gael Monfils v Ernests Gulbis
Sara Errani

Gael Monfils produced a fantastic performance to take out the number five seed, Tomas Berdych on Monday and set up an enticing second rounder with Ernests Gulbis, a battle between the two most dangerous floaters in the draw and eternal under-achievers on the tour.  Monfils has been slowly making his return to form following an injury-plagued 2012 and he was superb in beating Berdych in five epic sets.  Gulbis had a straightforward opener as he defeated Rogerio Dutra-Silva, 6-1 7-6(4) 6-3.  Gulbis and Monfils have never met before on the tour, but this is bound to be a really fun match, whatever the result.  I think Monfils will be a bit tired having played a really long match with Gulbis and going all the way in Nice.  I fancied Gulbis to make the quarters and I am sticking by my original prediction.

Prediction - Gulbis to beat Monfils in 4 sets

2. Yulia Putintseva v Sara Errani
One match that is sure to be fiesty will be the second round match between Sara Errani and Yulia Putintseva.  Last year's Roland Garros finalist Errani had a very comfortable first rounder against the heavily slumping Arantxa Rus, 6-1 6-2.  Putintseva often makes the headlines for her on-court antics however her tennis is starting to do the talking with some solid results of late and she comfortably took out Ayumi Morita in the first round.  This will be a first encounter between the pair and Putintseva will have absolutely nothing to lose in this match as the underdog.  I certainly fancy her to get a set in this one...

Prediction - Errani to beat Putintseva in 3 sets 

3. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Jarkko Nieminen
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The French men and women will dominate the showcourts for the first few days, but the one who has the best chance of going deep into the second week is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  The world number 8 was in no mood to hang about on Monday as he tore past Iljaz Bedene, 6-2 6-2 6-3.  His second round opponent will be not be straightforward as Jarkko Nieminen can certainly wear down an opponent.  He made the quarter-finals of Monte-Carlo earlier this year with wins over Milos Raonic and Juan Martin del Potro and he showed his battling qualities in the first round with a five set win over another Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, 6-4 4-6 7-6(11) 4-6 6-2.  Tsonga leads the head-to-head with Nieminen by 4 wins to 2, but won their most recent match in Miami comfortably.  Tsonga looked sharp in round one and he should get through this one without too much bother...

Prediction - Tsonga to beat Nieminen in 3 tight sets

4. Madison Keys v Monica Puig
Two of the promising young talents on the WTA tour, Monica Puig and Madison Keys, will meet for the opportunity to make a first ever 3rd round of the French Open.  Puig had a really impressive opener as she recovered from losing the first set to record a career best win over Nadia Petrova, 3-6 7-5 6-4.  Keys had a more straightforward first round match as she defeated Misaki Doi, 6-3 6-2.  Both players have had some really good runs this year; Puig beat Julia Goerges and Francesca Schiavone in a run to the quarter-final of Oeiras, meanwhile Keys made the quarter-finals of Charleston and beat Li Na in Madrid.  This should be an interesting match and a great chance for a big run at a Major... I give the edge to Madison.

Prediction - Keys to beat Puig in 3 sets

Best of the rest: mens 2nd round predictions
Tommy Robredo to beat Igor Sijsling in 5 sets
Andreas Seppi to beat Blaz Kavcic in 4 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin in 3 sets
Milos Raonic to beat Michael Llodra in 3 sets
Kevin Anderson to beat Evgeny Donskoy in 3 sets
Joao Sousa to beat Feliciano Lopez in 5 sets
David Ferrer to beat Albert Montanes in 3 tight sets

Ricardo Bautista-Agut to beat Jeremy Chardy in 4 sets
Daniel Gimeno-Traver to beat Viktor Troicki in 5 sets
Marin Cilic to beat Nick Kyrgios in 3 sets
Gilles Simon to beat Pablo Cuevas in 3 sets
Jan Hajek to beat Sam Querrey in 5 sets
Tobias Kamke to beat Julien Benneteau in 4 sets
Roger Federer to beat Somdev Devvarman in 3 sets

Best of the rest: womens 2nd round predictions
Serena Williams to beat Caroline Garcia in 2 sets
Sorana Cirstea to beat Johanna Larsson in 3 sets
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to beat Petra Cetkovska in 3 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Galina Voskoboeva in 2 tight sets
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Bojana Jovanovski in 2 tight sets
Svetlana Kuznetsova to beat Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 sets
Varvara Lepchenko to beat Elena Svitolina in 2 sets
Angelique Kerber to beat Jana Cepelova in 2 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Mallory Burdette in 3 sets
Urszula Radwanska to beat Dinah Pfizemaier in 3 sets
Zuzana Kucova to beat Virginie Razzano in 3 sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Mathilde Johansson in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Carla Suarez Navarro to beat Shelby Rogers in 2 sets
Sabine Lisicki to beat Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor in 3 sets

Monday, 27 May 2013

French Open Round 1 Update: Gael Monfils stuns Tomas Berdych in five sets

Tomas Berdych
The biggest shock of the French Open so far saw the number five seed in the mens draw, Tomas Berdych ousted by a sensational effort from Gael Monfils, who thrilled the home crowd with a 7-6(8) 6-4 6-7(3) 6-7(4) 7-5.  Monfils was tiring towards the end and saved a string of break points in the final set before eventually turning the tables on his Czech opponent to break at 6-5 and serve it out with aplomb.  It was a really rough draw for Berdych, but I did not expect him to fall in this match.  Monfils now goes onto play Ernests Gulbis, which will be an unmissable match between two of the most eccentric personalities on the ATP tour.

The Philippe Chatrier crowd got a real show today as Rafael Nadal was given a stern test by the huge, Daniel Brands.  The German player, who is having a very solid year up till now, took the first set and had a mini break in the second set tiebreak; however Nadal unsurprisingly managed to turn things round and post a 4 set victory, 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 6-3.  In the showcase womens match, Laura Robson suffered a disappointing 6-3 6-2 loss to Caroline Wozniacki, who snapped a 5 match losing streak with her best performance since making the final in Indian Wells.  Robson really struggled for consistency and hit far too many unforced errors as Wozniacki grew in confidence during the match.  Wozniacki takes on Bojana Jovanovski in round two, which is a rematch of their rather hilarious match from Rome where an injured Jovanovski came back from all deficits to stun Wozniacki.

In other matches, Angelique Kerber came through a tough opening set with Mona Barthel before strolling to a 7-6(6) 6-2 victory.  Carla Suarez Navarro recovered from the loss of the first set to Rome semi-finalist, Simona Halep to post a very impressive 3-6 6-2 6-2 win.  Ekaterina Makarova and Tamira Paszek were the only two womens seeds to fall today; Makarova lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-4 6-2, meanwhile Paszek went down once again, this time to Melanie Oudin in straight sets.  Berdych was joined on the sidelines by Juan Monaco, who was a real suprise exit today as he lost in five sets to Daniel Gimeno-Traver having led by two sets and Marcel Granollers who fell to Feliciano Lopez.

From tomorrow night, Moo's previews will be in full swing as we start predicting the line-up of second round matches so stay tuned :-)

You can view my full predictions for mens and womens draw, which have both started reasonably well!

Friday, 24 May 2013

ATP French Open: Preview and Predictions

There have been some noteable withdrawals from mens draw in Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, but it should still be a very interesting tournament.  Lets take a look at the draw...

FIRST QUARTER - N.Djokovic (1) v J.Tipsarevic (8)
Janko Tipsarevic
Madrid and Rome were not the ideal preparations for Novak Djokovic as he suffered losses to Grigor Dimitrov and Tomas Berdych as he failed to progress past the quarter-finals of either tournament.  Djokovic could at least get a chance for revenge with Dimitrov as he is on course for a third round showdown with the Bulgarian.  Djokovic opens his Roland Garros campaign against David Goffin, who will lose a large chunk of ranking points having made the 4th round last year.  If Djokovic and Dimitrov did meet in round three, I could quite confidently say that I think Djokovic would progress as Dimitrov just does not have the fitness for best of five set matches.  The section vying for Djokovic's round of 16 opponent is pretty drab with Alexandr Dolgopolov and Philipp Kohlschreiber the two highest ranked players.

There was a possibility that we could have had a Ferrer-Tipsarevic quarter, but thankfully the tennis gods have spared up.  Still, we are stuck with Janko Tipsarevic as a top eight seed, who has won just two matches through five clay court tournaments.  He plays Nicolas Mahut, who is not much cop on clay and could offer up a rare win for Tipsarevic; however getting past Fernando Verdasco (or even Marc Gicquel) in round two will be his stumbling block.  This section could be be blown out of the stratosphere after the first two rounds as John Isner is going to struggle to get past Carlo Berlocq in round one, having lost four of his last five matches on clay and Mikhail Youzhny has a very tough starter against Madrid semi-finalist, Pablo Andujar.  Step forward, Tommy Haas who has a superb chance of making the quarter-finals...

1st Round Predictions: Djokovic to beat Goffin in 3 sets, Dodig to beat Pella in 5 sets, Berlocq to beat Isner in 5 sets, Andujar to beat Youzhny in 4 sets and Tipsarevic to beat Mahut in 4 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Djokovic v Haas

SECOND QUARTER - R.Nadal (3) v R.Gasquet (7)
Richard Gasquet
The speculation coming into Roland Garros was about Rafael Nadal's seeding, but having triumphed in Rome and Madrid, he claimed a top four spot and he would have got it anyway with Andy Murray's withdrawal.  The big news from the draw is that he is on course for a sensational semi-final duel with Novak Djokovic.  Nadal takes on Daniel Brands first up and is projected to meet Fabio Fognini in the third round.   There is a possiblity that Nadal could meet Lukas Rosol in the third round if the Czech player can summon the form that saw him take the title in Bucharest earlier this year... that would be tasty indeed.  Kei Nishikori and Benoit Paire will be battling to meet Rafa in round four, but none stand a hope in knocking the Spaniard of his perch.

Richard Gasquet has never done particularly well in front of a Parisian crowd, but if he wants to break from tradition, he has a reasonable draw to do it.  His first match will be against Sergiy Stakhovsky and his first seed is likely to be Florian Mayer.  The real challenge will come in round four where Gasquet is expected to meet Stanislas Wawrinka.  The Swiss number two had a terrific run winning Oeiras (d. Ferrer) and making the final in Madrid (d. Tsonga and Berdych).  I have heard rumours he is struggling with an injury, but I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt as he has yet to withdraw! Jerzy Janowicz will be a danger in this section of the draw, but could easily come unstuck in his first round match against Albert Ramos, who beat him earlier this year in Barcelona.

1st Round Predictions: Nadal to beat Brands in 3 sets, Paire to beat Baghdatis in 4 sets, Nishikori to beat Levine in 4 sets, Wawrinka to beat De Bakker in 3 sets, Zeballos to beat Pospisil in 5 sets, Ramos to beat Janowicz in 5 sets and Gasquet to beat Stakhovsky in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Nadal v Wawrinka

THIRD QUARTER - T.Berdych (5) v D.Ferrer (4)
Tomas Berdych
The draw from hell has been handed to Tomas Berdych, who could play two of the most dangerous floaters back-to-back.  In round one, Berdych will meet Gael Monfils, who has looked back to better form, making the final in Nice.  If he gets past Monfils, Berdych will take on Ernests Gulbis, who despite a few petulant moments, has drawn on a really consistent few months and put in a stunning performance to threaten Nadal in Rome.  I think Gulbis has what it takes and will have a great run at Roland Garros.  It is a risk, particularly his ability to perform over a best of five set match, but it is a risk I am prepared to take.  Nicolas Almagro and Andreas Seppi are the two other seeds in this section; I predict Seppi will fall to Leonardo Mayer in round one, meanwhile Almagro who has not been at his best on the clay, should make at least the 4th round.

David Ferrer fell twice to Rafael Nadal in his last two tournaments of Madrid and Rome.  Both matches though went three sets and showed a marked improvement on the earth shatteringly bad drubbing he suffered to Nadal in Acapulco.  Ferrer will take on Marinko Matosevic in the first round before a potential third round encounter with fellow Spaniard, Marcel Granollers.  His 4th round opponent comes from a section that could throw up a really interesting third rounder between Milos Raonic and Kevin Anderson.  Both have had consistent years, but if they do meet in the 3rd round, I would give the edge to Anderson.

1st Round Predictions: Berdych to beat Monfils in 4 sets, Sijsling to beat Melzer in 3 sets, L. Mayer to beat Seppi in 4 sets, Raonic to beat Malisse in 3 sets, Granollers to beat Lopez in 4 sets, Sousa to beat Soeda in 3 sets and Ferrer to beat Matosevic in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Gulbis v Ferrer

FOURTH QUARTER - J.W.Tsonga (6) v R.Federer (2)
Roger Federer
Roger Federer must have had a huge grin on his face when he saw his draw because it is an absolute gem.  His first two round will feature qualifiers, the first of those against Pablo Carreno-Busta, the most dangerous of all the qualifiers following a few notable runs through the clay court season.  In round three, Federer could meet Julien Benneteau, who has beaten him this year but that was on a fast indoor hard court and clay is not Benneteau's surface.  A Rome rematch with Gilles Simon is on the cards in the 4th round with Sam Querrey, the other seed in this section, unlikely to offer much resistance.

The first test for Federer is not likely to come until the quarter-finals where Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be the favourite to meet Fed.  Tsonga plays Aljaz Bedene in the first round before a potential third round encounter with fellow Frenchman, Jeremy ChardyJuan Monaco and Marin Cilic are also in this section and pose a threat as Tsonga's 4th round opponent.  Cilic has not had particularly strong results on the clay, meanwhile Monaco has done pretty well, making the final this week in Dusseldorf and overturning a horror start to 2013.

1st Round Predictions: Tsonga to beat Bedene in 3 sets, Monaco to beat Gimeno-Traver in 4 sets, Troicki to beat Blake in 5 sets, Cilic to beat Petzschner in 4 sets, Simon to beat Hewitt in 4 sets, Querrey to beat Lacko in 5 sets, Berankis to beat Benneteau in 5 sets, Kamke to beat Lorenzi in 5 sets and Federer to beat Carreno-Busta in 3 tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Tsonga v Federer 

Moo's Final Prediction - N.Djokovic d. R.Federer

On the women's side I have gone pretty much with the form book in the latter stages, but on the mens side I am taking a bit of a risk and am going for Novak Djokovic to complete the career Grand Slam, beating Nadal and Federer in the semi-finals and final respectively.  I really hope we get to see a Nadal-Djokovic semi-final because whatever the result, it will be an unmissable match.  Federer really does have the perfect draw and anything other than a final appearance will have been an opportunity missed.  I can't really explain why I am going for Djokovic, more of an instinct.  As well, having seen their Monte-Carlo match, we know that Djokovic can certainly rival Nadal on the clay...

You can view my full predictions for the mens draw at Roland Garros from Saturday.  I will be updating the draw throughout the two weeks so you can keep an eye on how my predictions are doing.

WTA French Open: Preview and Predictions

It's time for the second major, let's get straight down to dissecting the 2013 Roland Garros womens draw.

FIRST QUARTER - S.Williams (1) v A.Kerber (8)
Angelique Kerber
Serena Williams comes into Roland Garros on a terrific 24 match winning streak having won her last four tournaments in Miami, Charleston, Madrid and Rome.  Last year, Serena went into Roland Garros as the heavy favourite but suffered a shocking first round loss to Virginie Razzano in what was the most dramatic match of 2012.  All eyes will be on her first round match with Anna Tatishvili.  

The first few rounds will be key for Serena to get through unscathed and the draw certainly looks reasonable with her 4th round opponent the first step up in quality; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Roberta Vinci will be the prime candidates jostling for that last 16 spot to meet Serena. Pavlyuchenkova, who is being coached by Martina Hingis, has a really favourable draw and a 5-1 head-to-head lead over Vinci to boot so this could actually be a good tournament for her.

Angelique Kerber will start her Roland Garros campaign with one of the toughest first round matches against fellow German, Mona Barthel.  Earlier this year in Doha, Barthel thumped Kerber in two easy sets.  Since then, their form has swapped around and Barthel's disinterest in recent matches makes me think she will be hard pushed to get past Kerber on this occasion.  Kerber-Barthel should be great, but I am most excited to see Caroline Wozniacki take on Laura Robson in the showcase of the first rounders.  Wozniacki has lost all four of her matches on red clay in 2013 and Robson loves a seed and a big stage.  In my opinion, it is a plum draw for Robson and I had to stop myself from picking her to the quarters! Round three though is well within her grasp.  Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ekaterina Makarova are also in this section and meet in another crunching opening tie.

1st Round Predictions: Bertens to beat Cirstea in 2 sets, Pavlyuchenkova to beat Hlavackova in 2 tight sets, Robson to beat Wozniacki in 2 sets, Kuznetsova to beat Makarova in 3 sets and Kerber to beat Barthel in 3 sets.

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - S.Williams v Kerber

SECOND QUARTER - A.Radwanska (4) v S.Errani (5)
Ana Ivanovic
The clay court season has been a real trial for Agnieszka Radwanska who muscled together just one win from three tournaments on the red clay.  She takes on Shahar Peer in the first round and could meet Venus Williams in the third round.  Venus has been struggling with a back injury, which has really affected her serve.  Venus plays Aga's sister, Urszula Radwanska in the first round and judging by Venus's performance against Laura Robson in Rome, an all-Radwanska third rounder is a real possibility.   

Ana Ivanovic has been playing very well of late and she will be happy with her draw, one that offers up potential of a last four place.  She takes on one of the stars of last year's Roland Garros, Petra Martic in the first round.  Julia Goerges could be a third round opponent, but she suffered a worrying wrist injury in Brussels.  An Aga-Ivanovic 4th round match would be my tip.  Although Radwanska has owned Ivanovic of late, I would discount their recent head-to-head...

Sara Errani moved up to number five in the rankings following another solid tournament in Rome and will now face a challenge to defend her incredible finals points from last year.  To be honest, she has a great chance of recouping a lot of those points.  First up will be Arantxa Rus, who has been in horrendous form of late and second will be either Ayumi Morita or Yulia PutintsevaSabine Lisicki just scraped in as a seed and she is in prime position to meet Errani in the third round.  

Errani's 4th round opponent comes from an intriguing section that features Nadia Petrova and Carla Suarez Navarro.  Petrova is first up against Monica Puig and may have to contend with the flourishing, Madison Keys in the second round.  Suarez Navarro has drawn Simona Halep, who had a star-studded run in Rome; the pattern of their head-to-head suggests this is a 50-50 match, but I would back Suarez Navarro's greater consistency to pull home the win.

1st Round Predictions: U.Radwanska to beat V.Williams in 2 sets, Ivanovic to beat Martic in 2 sets, Petrova to beat Puig in 3 sets, Suarez Navarro to beat Halep in 3 sets, Lisicki to beat Arvidsson in 2 sets, Morita to beat Putintseva in 3 sets and Errani to beat Rus in 2 easy sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Ivanovic v Errani

THIRD QUARTER - L.Na (6) v V.Azarenka (3)
Victoria Azarenka
The third quarter could see a hotly anticipated rematch of this year's dramatic Australian Open final between Li Na and Victoria Azarenka.  Li's form through Madrid and Rome was certainly patchy and rather surprising as through the first four months of the season, she had emerged as the closest candidate to rival the top three.  She plays Anabel Medina Garrigues in the first round and could play Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the second round, a potential rematch from the Stuttgart semi-finals.  

Yaroslava Shvedova could await in the third round, who took out Li in Paris last year.  Shvedova has reignited her form following a sorry start to 2013, but I still like the chances of the Argentine qualifier, Paula OrmacheaMaria Kirilenko and Klara Zakopalova headline the other part to this section, but both could be trumped by Kaia Kanepi, who is improving week-on-week.  Her only weakness may be having endured the long rainy days in Brussels...

Victoria Azarenka restored some parity with a run to the final in Rome following an ill-tempered early exit in Madrid, which had seen her take to the court for the first time in two months.  Vika will play Elena Vesnina in round one, a good solid test to kick things off.  The Frenchwomen, Alize Cornet will be her first seed before a 4th round showing against Marion Bartoli beckons.  This is the most open section in the whole draw and suggesting Bartoli and round four sounds absurd.  Most recently, she suffered a straight sets loss to Camila Giorgi in Strasbourg; however I think in front of a home crowd, she will notch up a few wins.  Kirsten Flipkens is the other seed in this section and will have to contend with the tricky Italians, Flavia Pennetta (round one) and Francesca Schiavone (potentially round two).  Pennetta made the semi-finals in Strasbourg having coming through qualifying, meanwhile Schiavone will always be a danger at RG, having famously claimed the title in 2010.

1st Round Predictions: Li to beat Media Garrigues in 2 tight sets, Mattek-Sands to beat Dominguez-Lino in 3 sets, Kanepi to beat Zakopalova in 2 sets, Voegele to beat Watson in 3 sets, Govortsova to beat Bartoli in 3 sets, Schiavone to beat Czink in 3 sets, Pennetta to beat Flipkens in 2 tight sets and Azarenka to beat Vesnina in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Li v Azarenka

FOURTH QUARTER - P.Kvitova (7) v M.Sharapova (2)
Maria Sharapova
The final section of the draw will see Maria Sharapova begin her journey to defending the Roland Garros crown, which she won last year to complete the Career Grand Slam.  She will have to at least be on the ball in round one as she will play the crafty, Hsieh Su-Wei.  In round two, Sharapova is likely to play Eugenie Bouchard who had an extremely encouraging run in Strasbourg this week.  

Sharapova has had her fair share of cakewalks this year and this draw is rather cakey once more.  She has drawn the weakest of all 32 seeds, Tamira Paszek, in round three, who will be hard pushed to get past Melanie Oudin in what will be a battle of the grass court queens.  Perhaps, it will be Zheng Jie who profits from this as she showed an upturn in form with a quarter-final appearance in Brussels this week.

Petra Kvitova has struggled for consistency over the clay court season and will be vulnerable in a packed section.  She plays Aravane Rezai, a blast from the past who won Madrid in 2010, but has been struggling badly since.  Kvitova is projected to meet Lucie Safarova in the third round but I think it could easily be Jamie Hampton or Yanina Wickmayer, who can both pack a punch on their day.  Hampton has never been extremely proficient on the clay but a recent run in Brussels has made me think otherwise.  

The other section is likely to see a third rounder between Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur.  JJ has a testing opener against Daniela Hantuchova, but overall it is all achievable for the former world number one.  Drawing Stosur is actually good, because despite a beating to the Aussie in the Roland Garros semi-finals back in 2010, she has always dominated the head-to-head including a recent win in Stuttgart.  

1st Round Predictions: Kvitova to beat Rezai in 2 tight sets, Peng to beat Giorgi in 3 sets, Hampton to beat Safarova in 3 sets, Jankovic to beat Hantuchova in 2 tight sets, Stosur to beat Date-Krumm in 2 sets, Oudin to beat Paszek in 3 sets, Bouchard to beat Pironkova in 2 sets and Sharapova to beat Hsieh in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Jankovic v Sharapova

Moo's Final Prediction - S.Williams d. Sharapova
I thought long and hard about this one and I am going for Serena.  There is a great deal of pressure and expectation on Serena's shoulders this week, but having suffered such a meltdown in round one last year, I really think she has learnt from that match and will not make the same mistake.  I expect a few edgy moments earlier on, but if she gets through them, she will be difficult to stop.  The best of the quarter-finals, on paper at least, will be Azarenka against Li and despite a disappointing clay court season, I think Li will actually do well here.  I am still going for Sharapova to reach the final as the world number two has been so remarkably consistent this year.

You can view my full predictions for the womens draw at Roland Garros from Saturday.  I will be updating the draw throughout the two weeks so you can keep an eye on how my predictions are doing.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Moo's plans for the 2013 grass court season

This year I will be attending the WTA event in Birmingham and the WTA/ATP joint event in  Eastbourne.  For Birmingham, I have tickets for the Friday, which is quarter-finals day.   I went for the first time last year and got pretty much rained off so I am hoping for more luck this year! The line-up is also exciting as although there aren't a lot of big names confirmed, many of the up-and-comers, who I have never seen before, will be competing. I also have tickets for Eastbourne and will be going on Monday and Tuesday this year.  Not much beats Wimbledon, but I have a real soft spot for Eastbourne and this will be my fourth year.   

At this moment of time I have been unlucky in purchasing Wimbledon tickets.  I was pretty fortunate last year to go four times as I went a bit crazy with buying Olympics tickets so it kind of makes sense that I haven't got any this year!  I am an LTA member, which gets a direct entry into their ballot; however I have had no joy so far.  All my family have also been unsuccessful in the public Wimbledon ballot, which is a first.  Normally, at least one of us gets tickets, but I am guessing that following an Olympics year and Andy Murray's successes in 2012, the ballot has become even more oversubscribed than usual this year.

My final attempt for tickets will be to try and get tickets on Ticketmaster for Wimbledon Court No.3, the day before play.  I know it is going to very difficult, but I will at least give it a go.  The whole second week of Wimbledon is booked off work so even if I have to park myself by the TV to watch it, I'll be very happy!  

Anyway I hope to do some live tweeting (not excessive as I do plan to watch some tennis!) from both Birmingham and Eastbourne, which you will be able to view via my blog or you can give me a follow on Twitter (@MooTennisBlog).  I will also being doing some blog reports, which I have done for the past two years with my experiences and all my best photos. Here is an example of my posts from 2012...

Eastbourne: Action from Tuesday's first round matches, Part 1 and Part 2
Wimbledon: Magic Monday action from No.1 court including Sabine Lisicki's upset win over Sharapova
Olympics at WimbledonSunday from No.1 Court, Monday from Centre Court and Wednesday from Centre Court

A sunny day in Eastbourne

Sunday, 19 May 2013

WTA Brussels, WTA Strasbourg, ATP Nice: Preview and Predictions

The French Open is very nearly upon us, but we have one more week and four tournaments for players to get their last minute preparations tuned in for Roland Garros.

WTA Brussels
Caroline Wozniacki
Brussels is the strongest of the two WTA tournaments this week with Caroline Wozniacki and Roberta Vinci the headline acts.  Wozniacki has not yet won a match on red clay this year and has made a wise choice in accepting a wild card.  After a first round bye, she takes on Zheng Jie or a qualifier.  The big hitting German, Julia Goerges is a quarter-final prospect, but she has really struggled to string match wins together this year.  Romina Oprandi will also be a danger in this section having made the semi-finals in Oeiras; however she would have to contend with a 0-4 head-to-head record with Goerges if they meet in R2.

I cannot really understand Vinci's reasoning for playing this week in Brussels.  Since winning Katowice and leading her Fed Cup team into the final, she has been hampered by a shoulder injury.  She struggled in Rome and I do not see her going far this week.  In her section, she has a pair of Belgians, Kirsten Flipkens and Yanina Wickmayer.  Flipkens has really struggled on the clay and will be hard pushed to get past Madison Keys in R1.  Wickmayer takes on Jamie Hampton, who is a winnable first rounder and could pave the way for a nice run in front of the home crowd if she can get her act together.

In the weakest quarter, Sloane Stephens and Peng Shuai are set to meet in the quarters.  Both should really make it into the quarters from a section that features Tsvetana Pironkova, Arantxa Rus and Sofia Arvidsson, who are all in a terrible run of form.  The third quarter sees the toughest first round match between Kaia Kanepi and Dominika Cibulkova.  If Kanepi comes through that, I expect her to go all the way to the title.  Varvara Lepchenko will also be dangerous and is projected to meet Kanepi/Cibulkova in the quarters.

1st Round Predictions - Stephens to beat Pironkova in 2 sets, Lepchenko to beat Jovanovski in 2 tight sets, Kanepi to beat Cibulkova in 2 tight sets, Keys to beat Flipkens in 3 sets and Wickmayer to beat Hampton in 2 sets.

Moo's Final Prediction - Kanepi d. Oprandi
WTA Strasbourg
This year's tournament in Strasbourg looks completely wide open with Marion Bartoli and Tamira Paszek the top two seeds.  Bartoli has made just two quarter-finals this year, meanwhile Paszek has only mustered one main draw win all year.  Both face tricky openers as Bartoli takes on Camila Giorgi and Paszek plays an always dangerous Serena-slayer, Virginie Razzano.  Paszek's section is a free-for-all with the biggest excitement, the return from injury by Petra Cetkovska, who takes on Johanna Larsson in R1.

Things don't get much better in the middle quarters; Alize Cornet and Chanelle Scheepers are the two seeds in the second quarter and Daniela Hantuchova and Hsieh Su-Wei are projected to meet in the third quarter.  Cornet is defending finalist points and can come unstuck against anyone on her day.  Scheepers played well on the clay in Marrakech so may be the one to back in this section if you are brave.  Hsieh faces a tough opener against Annika Beck, meanwhile Hantuchova faces the clay courter, Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor first up.

1st Round Predictions - Bartoli to beat Giorgi in 3 sets, Soler-Espinosa to beat Bouchard in 3 sets, Erakovic to beat Niculescu in 2 sets, Cornet to beat Johansson in 3 sets, Beck to beat Hsieh in 2 sets, McHale to beat Davis in 3 sets, Muguruza to beat Hradecka in 3 sets and Razzano to beat Paszek in 2 tight sets.

Moo's Final Prediction - McHale d. Scheepers
ATP Nice
The ATP 250 event in Nice has taken a big hit with the inevitable withdrawal of Tomas Berdych, who has wisely chosen to rest before Roland Garros following back-to-back semi-finals in Madrid and Rome.  His place in the draw is taken by the lucky, lucky loser, Albert Montanes.  The first quarter features a number of competent clay courters including Rome quarter-finalist, Marcel Granollers, Davis Cup hero, Carlos Berlocq and the Spaniard, Albert Ramos.

The middle section of the draw is padded out by Sam Querrey and John Isner, who have both done nothing significant during the clay court season.  Both have a fair chance of making the semi-finals with Isner having the tougher section as he could meet Gael Monfils or Fabio Fognini in the quarters.  Gilles Simon bookends the draw and is likely to have to contend with a pair of Italians, Paolo Lorenzi and Andreas Seppi.

1st Round Predictions: Berlocq to beat Mayer in 3 sets, Monfils to beat Giraldo in 3 sets, Seppi to beat Lu in 2 sets and Andujar to beat Hewitt in 3 sets

Moo's Final Prediction - Fognini d. Berlocq
There is also an ATP tournament in Dusseldorf this week where you can see my full predictions using the tabs at the top of the page.  Both Dusseldorf and Nice have already started today.  There will definitely be less blogging this week as I recover my energy for what will be an EPIC month.

Rome Round-Up: Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal triumphant again

Serena Williams
I was hoping today's finals would be competitive, but we saw two terrific performances from Serena and Rafa as they both completed the Madrid-Rome double.  Serena Williams was up first as she produced a clinical display to dispatch Victoria Azarenka, 6-1 6-3.  Serena hit a staggering 41 winners to just 19 unforced errors and will go into Roland Garros as the mahoosive favourite.  I thought Azarenka actually did pretty well and she needs more matches before she is back to her best.  Clay is not her best surface, but I still prefer her match-up with Serena over Maria-Serena on any surface.  Although Serena will be the big favourite, there will also be a lot of expectation and pressure so its NOT going to be a walk in the park by any means at the French.

The ATP final was equally one-sided as Rafael Nadal rather dismantled an error-leaking Roger Federer, 6-1 6-3.  The highlight of the match for me was a jaw dropping  Nadal backhand pass at 6-1 4-1 to get the break.  Federer did get one break back, but it was just delaying the inevitable.  Nadal goes into Roland Garros as the big favourite, but despite poor showings in Madrid and Rome, I still don't think Djokovic can be discounted.  We have two heavy favourites going into RG, but tennis is a funny game and i'm still weighing up my predictions, which will ALL depend on the draw.

It has been another superb week of tennis I am sure you will agree!  My previews for next week's tournaments will be posted tonight, but I will not be following the tournaments in much detail throughout the week as I want to recharge the blogging batteries for the busy weeks ahead.  I love doing my blog, but its been a bit hectic trying to keep up the last two weeks in around a full-time job! I hope you will continue to follow Moo's Tennis Blog as we move into the most exciting stage of the season.  I will post in the week about my blogging plans for the grass court season so stay tuned and spread the word to follow Moo :-)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

ATP Rome Final Prediction: Rafael Nadal v Roger Federer

Roger Federer
There are a pair of stunning finals for tomorrow, which hopefully should eclipse what was a rather drab finals day in Madrid.  Rafael Nadal progressed to another final in 2013, his eighth in a row, which I believe takes him to number one in the Race rankings, which is pretty astonishing for many reasons including not playing the Australian Open! Nadal beat Tomas Berdych today, 6-2 6-4, who was unable to produce the same magical performance that saw him beat Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.  Nadal takes on Roger Federer in the final, a first final for Fed in 2013.  Federer beat out a very respectable effort from Benoit Paire, 7-6(5) 6-4.  The tiebreak was a real momentum swinger and Paire had his chances, but the experience of Federer saw him come through.

Nadal and Federer last played on clay in 2011 at Roland Garros when Nadal progressed through in four sets.  Nadal also won in their only encounter of 2013 at Indian Wells although Federer was hampered by an injury in that match, which ended 6-4 6-2.  Nadal's form has been quite sensational lately and it will be a very significant test for Federer who has had a few tricky players to deal with but no-one in the same league as the Spaniard.  I hope its competitive and I think it will be to a degree, but always going Rafa on the clay in this one...

Prediction - Nadal to beat Federer in 2 tight sets

Note - Apologies for yesterday when I had a semi-final preview between Djokovic and Berdych! I will try and get the right players from now on ;-)