By Ros Satar, in Rome
- Alexander Zverev  v Milos Raonic 
- Dominic Thiem  v Rafael Nadal 
- Juan Martin Del Potro v Novak Djokovic 
ROME, ITALY – The quarter-finals are set with the best of the action coming up broken down here.
Alexander Zverev  v Milos Raonic 
Alexander Zverev, the current figurehead of the ATP’s #NextGen focus has been efficiently making his way through the draw, while Milos Raonic is making a confident comeback after injuries have marred the beginning of the season.
Zverev is now the youngest player to reach the quarter-finals here since a 19-year-old Novak Djokovic back in 2007. He was tested a little by Kevin Anderson in his opening round, but since then has eased into his quarter-final spot in straight sets.
He is beginning to mature nicely, and has a pragmatic view point on his performances so far, especially on the clay.
“I think confidence is a good thing, and getting down on yourself is not because of compliments. I think it’s more about how you see your game and how your team sees your game. I try to listen to very few people, to my team who is with me most of the time. Those are the people who I listen to.
“I know what I have done this offseason. I know how hard I worked in my time where nobody sees what I’m doing. So I’m not surprised. But obviously it’s a great feeling to know that I’m playing this well and to know that I can compete with the biggest players in the world and to reach those kind of stages in big tournaments.”
For Raonic though, his year has seen walkovers aplenty and he seems to have come out on the clay court season in much better form, reaching a first clay court final in Istanbul and losing in the third round of Madrid.
He told reporters before the tournament: “I think [the next three weeks] could be very good for me. I think for me obviously the No. 1 priority through the last two weeks was staying healthy through them. I hadn’t completed a week this year healthy. That was a primary goal.
“Now that I’m aware my body can handle week after week stress to some extent, it becomes more of a focus on specifically the tennis things and going about that.”
Of course Raonic has more experience at this event, but Zverev’s form has been impressive, and we could see the upset here.
Prediction: Zverev in three sets.
Dominic Thiem  v Rafael Nadal 
It is the third straight time that Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal will face each other with Nadal leading their overall head to head 4-1. So fare Nadal has been victorious on the way to a 10th Barcelona title and last week a fifth Madrid title, and is on a 17-match winning streak.
It is a return to the Rome quarter-finals for Thiem and clay is certainly a surface that suits him, and he earned it by saving three match points over Sam Querrey. He pulled off a similar Houdini act against Grigor Dimitrov in Madrid, saving five over all.
Is his tenacity enough though to beat Nadal who has eased through his path to the quarter-final? Nadal will look to step up his aggression and while it was a sold win for Thiem against Querrey we have to wonder whether fatigue will start to play a part in his conditioning.
Prediction: Nadal in two sets.
Juan Martin Del Potro v Novak Djokovic 
Juan Martin Del Potro and Djokovic face each other once more and after some of their epic encounters, most notably at the last two Olympics. While injuries have meant that Del Potro’s return to the tour has been curtailed a number of times, Djokovic’s rise has been stellar, but has been faltering.
The World No. 2 has looked a bit more convincing in Rome, and seems to be rounding out to some better form now, while Del Potro makes his first Rome Masters quarter-final since 2009 where ironically he lost to Djokovic.
This ought to be winnable for Djokovic, but he may have to work for it.
Prediction: Djokovic in three sets.
Featured Image Credit: Christopher Johnson
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