Thursday, April 19, 2007

Monte Carlo Quarterfinals Preview

by Craig Hickman

(1) Roger Federer vs. (12) David Ferrer (ESP)
Ferrer can beat Raja if, and only if, he believes in himself. Ferrer hits flatter than most claycourters, which plays into Raja's hands, but if the Spaniard keeps his head in it (DON'T bet the house!), he's got a puncher's chance. My money is on the Swiss Miss(ter), who just happens to be in a deliciously ornery mood this outing.

(16) Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) vs. (11) Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Haven't seen a complete Ferrero match, but the former King of Clay dismisses the Frenchman, who's luckier than a Sagittarius in December to be in the quarterfinals given his mental vacuousness and his prior opponents' brazen inability to close out matches.

(10) Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. Robin Soderling (SWE)
On this surface, it's a toss-up. Don't wager a thing. Really. A slight edge to the Swede only because he's coming off a Davis Cup victory and he won their last two encounters. But he can crumble quick as stale cornbread. Then again, so can the Czech. Nuff said.

(2) Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. (Q) Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
If the German feels like he's up to it, he will give Nadal all that he can handle. His backhand isn't *sweet,* as some would have you believe. It's vicious. His forehand isn't bad either. He's got confidence, what with his Davis Cup debut win against Belgium Easter weekend. Could be the match of the day. Nonetheless, *unbeatable* Nadal will get one step closer to defending his title, even if he has to break the German's momentum with his calculated and now legendary stalling tactics to do so. Besides, Kohlschreiber, as a qualifier, has played three more matches than Nadal so far this week.

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