By Jake Davies
- Grigor Dimitrov  vs Denis Istomin H2H: Dimitrov leads 1-0
- Rafael Nadal  vs Gael Monfils  H2H: Nadal leads 12-2
- Dominic Thiem  vs David Goffin  H2H: Goffin leads 5-3
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – With the top two seeds now out of the tournament, is the way clear for a new champion to shine?
Grigor Dimitrov  vs Denis Istomin H2H: Dimitrov leads 1-0
This year’s Brisbane champion Grigor Dimitrov is a heavy favourite in this match-up, despite Denis Istomin playing the best tennis of his career to date at the 2017 Australian Open. Dimitrov is well-known for his flashy, flamboyant style of tennis, but he is starting to add solidity to his brand of tennis, which is exactly what many people have been waiting for. For the Bulgarian to become a regular fixture in the Top 10 of the Men’s Game he has to see out these matches where he is the favourite to come through.
Istomin will give Dimitrov a run for his money. The man from Uzbekistan has played with nothing to lose this tournament and it was evident in his career win over World No.2 Novak Djokovic where he beat his first Top 10 opponent in five years, snapping a 23 match losing streak against the top guys placed in the elite Top 10 of the rankings. Istomin also managed to back up the result with a five sets win over Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta, which further indicates he should not be overlooked in any match-up this tournament.
I have a feeling Istomin will push the Bulgarian to the limit, but think Dimitrov will see it out in five sets.
Prediction: Dimitrov in five sets.
Rafael Nadal  vs Gael Monfils  H2H: Nadal leads 12-2
The Frenchman Gael Monfils may be the higher seed in this match-up but he might want to forget the previous meetings he has had with Rafael Nadal over the years. Nadal has absolutely commanded this head-to-head winning 12 of 14 matches, but is there reason to believe that the new and improved Monfils can improve the devastating head-to-head with his opponent? Monfils has been winning matches comfortably in Melbourne. To get the best preparation for the toughest opponents in the latter stages of the tournament it is key to get through the earlier rounds with as little fuss as possible and Monfils has done just that.
Then if you factor the Monte Carlo Masters final of last year, where Monfils played one of his better matches against Nadal losing 5-7 7-5 0-6 and the experience of playing a rare grand slam semi-final at last year’s US Open. Monfils has a lot to be confident about, but I think Nadal will edge this one out in a thrilling match on Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal looks rejuvenated with the addition of Carlos Moya in his camp. He is attacking the forehand down the line with authority and seems to have even more belief in his game, which is what he was missing for over two years on the tour.
Prediction: Nadal in four sets.
Dominic Thiem  vs David Goffin  H2H: Goffin leads 5-3
These two professionals are not far apart in the world rankings. The Austrian Dominic Thiem is fighting to maintain his spot in the Top 10, while David Goffin is on the outside looking in, which is something he is looking to change in the coming weeks. A win for the Belgian would put him into his first ever Australian Open Quarter-Final and that would mean he breaks the Top 10 for the first time in his career, so there is a lot to play for in this match-up.
More players are aware of Thiem’s strengths and weaknesses in 2017 after his best year on tour, winning four ATP titles and becoming a Top 10 regular. The Austrian is clearly a gifted player, but now we will see how he handles being one of the players looking over his shoulder rather than a player working his way up the rankings.
Goffin holds a slender advantage on the hard court surface, having won 3 of their 4 meetings on a hard court and I give him the slight edge in this one.
Prediction: Goffin in five sets.
|Follow Britwatch - Sport in General, Brits in Particular!|
|Subscribe to Britwatch Sports|