Rublev tops Bautista Agut: Monte-Carlo quarter-final matchups and previews

Andrey Rublev battled past Roberto Bautista Agut in a tight three-setter to set a clash with Rafael Nadal in Friday’s Monte-Carlo quarter-finals. We preview all four matchups below…

Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev battled past Roberto Bautista Agut in one of the matches of the day on Thursday, 7-6, 5-7, 6-3. The Russian won’t have a lot of time to celebrate his first trip to the quarter-finals at Monte-Carlo though, as he’ll have to turn around and take on one of the biggest challenges that the sport has to offer on Friday: facing Rafael Nadal on the red clay. 

Rafael Nadal Monte Carlo 2021

With that in mind, join us for a quick glance at all four of Friday’s quarter-finals at Monte-Carlo complete with key stats, head-to-heads and a few insights.

  • Rafael Nadal v Andrey Rublev 
  • Head-to-head: Nadal leads 2-0 (first meeting on clay)
  • Key stat: Nadal is 73-5 at Monte-Carlo and 14-1 lifetime in quarter-finals at Monte-Carlo. 

What we expect to see from Nadal v Rublev: 

A matchup with Rublev promises to be Nadal’s toughest test of the week thus far, as he’ll likely be forced into plenty of grinding baseline rallies from the hard-hitting Russian. Complicating matters, however, is the fact that Rublev played the last match of the day on Court Rainier III and seemed to be suffering from cramps against Bautista Agut in the third set. 

Rafael Nadal Monte-Carlo

All that aside, Rublev displayed fantastic form on Thursday, crushing 50 winners, including 30 off the forehand side. If he is feeling fit he has the power to put Nadal on the run on this surface, which is something we have yet to see this week in Monte-Carlo. Is the prospect of facing the King of Clay on his favorite surface for the first time exciting for Rublev?

“Not really,” said Rublev, with a smile. “But it’s going to be a great challenge for me. So I’m looking forward, I’m going to do my best. I have no pressure at all, I’m going to go for it, I’m going to do my best, I’m going to fight and we will see.”

  • David Goffin v Dan Evans 
  • Head-to-head: Evans leads 1-0, after defeating Goffin 6-4 6-4 at the 2020 ATP Cup.
  • Key stat: Evans entered Monte-Carlo with ten consecutive main draw clay-court losses to his name. But he has remedied that with three straight wins, including a shocking upset of world No 1 Novak Djokovic on Thursday. 

What we expect to see from Goffin v Evans: 

Frankly, we don’t know what to expect when two of the two biggest surprises of this year’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters go head-to-head on Friday. Evans, who entered the week without a main draw victory on clay since 2017, is suddenly in rare form, and looking dangerous. 

But don’t overlook Goffin, always a threat on clay and finally showing his best tennis after a run of three consecutive losses in the second half of March. Goffin has already claimed a title this year, at Montpellier in February (d. Bautista Agut in the final) and notched a solid straight-set win over No 5-seeded Alexander Zverev on Thursday. It’s a victory that will give Goffin a lot of confidence. 

“Everything was there,” Goffin said of his win over Zverev on Thursday. “I mean, this match, I served well, I was solid. I was very precise with my forehand. Aggressive when I had to. Was a great match. Of course, when you win three matches here, you’re in quarters in a Masters 1000, of course you’re confident. But the most important is the game. The game was there. I was moving well. That was the key.”

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 
  • Head-to-Head: First meeting
  • Key stat: Davidovich Fokina has reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final on his Monte-Carlo debut. 

What we expect to see from Tsitsipas v Davidovich Fokina: 

Stefanos Tsitsipas has been a consistent force on tour in 2021, but he’s still in search of that first Masters 1000 title. After rifling past Cristian Garin on Thursday he’ll have to contend with the unpredictable game of Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. On paper Tsitsipas is the heavy favorite, but the Spaniard is having a splendid week in Monte-Carlo. He took out Matteo Berretini for his biggest career win and has yet to drop a set this week. 

  • Fabio Fognini v Casper Ruud  
  • Head-to-Head: Ruud leads 2-0(1-0 on clay)
  • Key stat: Fognini is the 2019 champion at Monte-Carlo and reached his eighth Masters 1000 quarter-final

What we expect to see from Fognini v Ruud: 

Maybe Monte-Carlo is the magic potion for Italy’s Fabio Fognini? He’s struggled at times to find his form in 2021, but so far in Monte-Carlo he’s been money. He has not dropped a set all week, but he’ll face his toughest challenge in Casper Ruud on Friday. The Norwegian rallied for a dramatic three-set win over Pablo Carreno Busta on Thursday to reach his second career Masters 1000 quarter-final. 

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