Monte-Carlo Day Four: Murray and Wawrinka are out, Nadal rules

Rafa put on a dominant display to hold off the challenge of Sascha Zverev. The young German still has some growing up to do. Murray was surprisingly eliminated despite leading 4-0 in the final set against Ramos Vinolas. Pouille could be the tournament’s dark horse.

Andy Murray (zimbio.com)

MONTE-CARLO – Day four at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters saw the surprising elimination of two of the best three players in the world: No. 1 ranked Andy Murray and No. 3 ranked Stan Wawrinka. If Carreno Busta hadn’t missed an easy backhand at 4-4 15-40 in the third set against Djokovic, the tournament would have probably lost the No.2 ranked player as well. After failing to finish the point with an easy overhead, Djokovic back-pedaled to the baseline and almost lost his balance leaving the court wide open for a simple cross-court backhand that would have allowed Carreno Busta to serve for the match. The Spaniard – who had climbed from 2-4 to 4-4 in the deciding set – wasn’t able to capitalize on a golden opportunity and shockingly netted a routine shot.

Another Spaniard – Albert Ramos Vinolas – ousted top seed Andy Murray in a see-saw match, during which the Scot had a 4-0 lead in the final set. “I don’t remember losing many matches after having had such a big lead. On the other hand, losing 7-5 in the third is not a bad result if we consider that I wasn’t able to play for many weeks because of the elbow injury,” said Murray in his post-match press conference.  Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay was the other giant killer of the day, dismissing former champion Stan Wawrinka with a stunning 6-4, 6-4 victory.

The most anticipated match of the day was the clash between Rafael Nadal and Sascha Zverev. Despite Nadal leading the head-to-head 2-0, the Spanish superstar and the young German had given us extraordinary battles in their previous two encounters, with Zverev holding a match-point in Indian Wells last year and losing a five-set thriller at the Australian Open three months ago. While Nadal’s victory was expected on a clay court, a 6-1 6-1 outcome was certainly a surprise. Nadal struggled against Edmund in the previous round and seemed far from his best form. On the other hand, Zverev breezed through his first two matches dispatching Andreas Seppi 6-1 6-2 and Feliciano Lopez 6-0 6-4. “I thought that I was going to lose today’s match and certainly didn’t expect it to last only one hour,” said Nadal in his press conference. Zverev was absolutely furious during and after the match. He also received a warning for smashing his racket.

It will be interesting to see what will happen in the next few days. “Every day is different; it is hard to say how I am going to play tomorrow and what kind of tennis my opponents are going to produce,” explained Nadal. If he keeps playing the way he did today against Zverev, he will be the favorite to win the tournament, unless Novak Djokovic stages an unexpected resurrection.

A semifinal clash between Djokovic and Nadal seems very likely, but Goffin could potentially spoil the Serbian’s plans for the weekend. Goffin – who today defeated Thiem in a huge battle – likes to play finesse tennis and has more charisma than Carreno Busta. If he found himself in the same position as the Spaniard, he could more than likely rise to the occasion. In the other quarterfinal, Nadal is the huge favorite against Schwartzmann.

The top half of the draw is now wide open after the defeats of Murray, Berdych, Wawrinka and Tsonga. Berdych’s loss to Cilic is certainly not a huge surprise, but the Croatian could have a battle on his hands against Ramos Vinolas in the quarters. It is impossible to predict who is going to prevail between Cuevas and Pouille, but the Frenchman could be this tournament’s breakthrough player. At 23 years of age, he is an extremely smart young man with a bright future ahead of him.

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )

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