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Murray, Djoko headline French Open q’final

Murray-Djoko-headline-French-Open-qfinal

The French Open men’s singles is due for an exciting quarter-final as the top four seeds have made it to the Last Eight.

World no. 1 Andy Murray is set to face Kei Nishikori of Japan in the quarters, while defending French Open champion Novak Djokovic is set to battle no. 6 Dominic Thiem.

No. 3 Stan Wawrinka also made it to the final eight and will collide with no. 7 Marin Cilic, while fourth seed and nine-time Roland-Garros winner Rafael Nadal will battle compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the semi-final.

BEST SERVED COLD

Murray has been struggling at the start of 2017 but is slowly returning to top form once the French Open began.

The Brit needed four sets to dispatch Andrey Kuznetsov in the first round, and struggled to close out his match against Martin Klizan in the second. He finally had a three-set win in the third round, when he outclassed 29th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro 7-6,7-5,6-0 then followed it up with a solid win over Karen Kachanov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the last round.

Despite his nice wins in the last two rounds, he hasn’t played like a top seed in a while, so this quarterfinal meeting with Nishikori is the perfect chance to show his mettle as the world’s best.

Nishikori has not exactly been a thorn to Murray’s throat since the pair’s head-to-head matchup tilts to Murray’s favor (9 wins-2 losses), but the Japanese ace stunned the Brit in the quarterfinal of last year’s US Open. So, if he can get breeze his way past the Jap, Murray will be rid of the monkey on his back and can soon concentrate on winning more Grand Slams.

AGASSI MAGIC

Speaking of Grand Slams, 12-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic named eight-time Grand Slam winner and former world number 1 Andre Agassi as his new coach as he began his title defense at Roland-Garros, and it is safe to say it’s working.

Djoko thundered past Marcel Granollers in the first round, then outplayed Joao Sousa in the second before having a hiccup in the third round against Diego Schwartzman. He lost two of the first three sets but dominated the last two sets to win 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 and reach the fourth round, where he outclassed 19th-seeded Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6, 6-1, 6-3.

In the quarters, the defending champion will be against Thiem, a player who has not defeated Djokovic in five meetings in their career. Of the Serb’s five wins, two of them were on clay, including in last month’s Rome Masters, where Djoko dominated Thiem 6-1, 6-0.

Thiem has been incredible in this Open, as he has never reached a fourth set in all games at Roland Garros, but can his great form succeed against a Djoko mentored by an Agassi, a duo who have 20 Grand Slams between them?

ROYAL DECREE

Nadal has not won the French Open since 2014 but it looks like the King of Clay wants to stampede his way to his 10th career Roland-Garros crown.

He began his rampage with a solid 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 thumping of Benoit Paire in the first round, then he knocked out Robin Haase in the second with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win. He dropped only one game against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round and cruised past Roberto Bautista Agut.

Of all the top seeds, the one who looked most dominant is Nadal, especially since these matches are played in his home court – any clay court in the world. In the last eight, Nadal will face another Spaniard in Carreno Busta, and Nadal has beaten him in all of their three meetings, including their two meetings in the clay courts in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and 2015.

To reach the last eight, Carreno Busta whacked the hard-serving Milos Raonic with the upset axe in the previous round, as the Spaniard defeated the Canadian 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 8-6. With such a confidence-boosting win, Carreno Busta will enter his match against Nadal with a vibrant mood, but can it last against the King?

OPEN TROUBLE?

Wawrinka is 11-2 against Cilic and have won the pair’s last seven meetings.

To Cilic’s delight, one of his two wins against the world number 3 is at the Australian Open, their lone meeting in a Grand Slam competition.

But to Wawrinka’s delight, it was seven years ago.

Since that loss, Wawrinka has defeated Cilic seven times, won three Grand Slams, including the 2015 French Open.

With Wawrinka finding many ways to scrape past his opponent, he should be able to display his mastery of Cilic, a foe he has defeated six times in the last three years.

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