After Korda’s loss from double match point up, which ended Luke and Charlie’s accumulators, a few days were needed to take stock and come back raring to go for the quarter finals! Our other six selections (Ivashka, Munar, Ramos-Vinolas, Millman, Nishikori, Musetti) all won. Some intriguing match ups, as well as some tasty value, presents itself here.
Rublev to beat Sinner 11/10 (Barcelona)
The world number 7 surprisingly comes into this clash as underdog, despite having played some fantastic tennis in 2021, most notably defeating Nadal en route to the Monte Carlo final last week. He also secured wins against Caruso, Bautista Agut and Ruud. Sinner’s only loss on the clay in 2020 was against Djokovic last week, having beaten Ramos Vinolas last week, and Gerasimov and Bautista Agut this week. Both players are big hitters and like to be aggressive and dominate the rallies. Rublev is, at this moment in time, slightly better at this, and has more experience at this level, which has shown in his ridiculously good record this year (won 26 lost 5).
Karatsev to beat Mager 4/9 (Belgrade)
Another man who has enjoyed a terrific 2021 is Aslan Karatsev. He has proven that he is here to stay at the top level, backing up his Australian Open semi final run with an ATP500 title in Dubai, taking out Evans, Sonego, Sinner and Rublev along the way. So far on the clay he boasts a win against Musetti in Monte Carlo, losing to eventual champion Tsitsipas in the next round, and a win here against Bedene, having saved a match point. Mager, like the majority of players this year, will struggle to deal with Karatsev’s power off both wings. This was evident in their only previous meeting, a 6-3 6-3 6-4 win at the Australian Open earlier this year for the Russian.
Djokovic to beat Kecmanovic 2-0 1/4 (Belgrade)
In his home event, Djokovic made light work of Kwon in Round 2, winning 6-1 6-3. This was a welcome return to winning ways for the world number 1, having had a shock loss to Dan Evans in Monte Carlo last week, after dispatching of Sinner 6-4 6-2 in the previous round. Djokovic is someone who is very proud of his country, and seems to raise his game even further when representing them, having helped them to win the Davis Cup in 2010. He also was unplayable in guiding them to the ATP Cup in 2020, beating Anderson, Monfils, Garin, Shapovalov, Medvedev and Nadal. Whilst there is no team element here, this will feel like he is playing for his country, and will be very keen to lift the title in front of his home fans. He will therefore be highly motivated to make light work of Kecmanovic, someone who also likes to play as a counter puncher. Kecmanovic does not have the massive weapons that can trouble Djokovic, which are even more important on a clay court.