ATP Tour: Sofia Open - Selected Quarter-Finals Preview

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Our tennis guru looks at two of the more exciting clashes coming your way from the ATP Tour's Sofia Open quarter-finals on Friday. 

Gael Monfils 12/10 | Stefanos Tsitsipas 6/10
The tale of Gael Monfils on the ATP Tour has been long and complex. The ridiculously talented Frenchman - I think it’s fair to say - hasn’t quite realized his potential: his tally of 7 ATP titles seems a bit thin. But he has always remained a firm fan favourite and will need to draw on all his court-craft this week. He beat Troicki and Kukushkin in straight sets - which bodes well for the indefatigable Frenchman. Last year was a torrid one in injury terms for Monfils, with wrist and back concerns plaguing his campaign. He did manage to win the opening event in Doha, while he would ultimately go on to lose in the Antwerp final towards the end of the season. The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist is a seasoned campaigner and looks to be in great physical condition going into this match.  

The current darling of the men’s game - Stefanos Tsitsipas - has truly had a year to remember. He is hot off a wonderful semi-final run at the Aussie Open, which was yet another harbinger of his massive future. Tsitsispas really emerged from relative obscurity last season, with an unheralded run to the Barcelona final starting it all. He performed well at Wimbledon before a tremendous run to the Canadian Open final in Toronto. It was the first genuine signs of his hardcourt proficiency. He then won the Stockholm Open before claiming the Next Gen title. Tsitsipas possesses a natural athleticism that is actually reminiscent of a young Monfils. This should be one for the purists as both players have the ability to engage in epic rallies.  

This will be their second meeting, with Tsitsipas holding the edge with a victory at last season’s Shanghai Masters. Tsitsipas will clearly be going into this quarter-final as a firm favourite. But the manner in which Monfils dispatched of Kukushkin and Troicki gives me confidence that he is worth a stab as a worthy underdog. He is a confidence player and becomes dangerous the deeper he goes in events. Additionally, Tsitsipas has already played a whole host of matches this season. 

Danil Medvedev 3/10 | Martin Klizan 47/20
Martin Klizan has always played second-fiddle to Grigor Dimitrov in Bulgarian tennis. But a real lull in Dimitrov’s form last season has allowed Klizan to steal a bit of his limelight. And he is coming off the back of beating defending Sofia Open Champion Mirza Basic. Klizan had a decent 2018, obviously claiming that Austrian Open title in the process. He also significantly won the Indian Wells Challenger event in a fairly robust draw. But surely the most significant event of his season was the St Petersburg Open. He overcame some high-class opponents in a marvellous run to the final. Martin Klizan is an arch-competitor who will not be over-awed by any adversary.  

Danil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov have both emerged as future Grand Slam contenders, underlining what has been a fertile period for Russian tennis. 22-year-old Medvedev already has three titles and has proven to be a young master on the harder courts. He started the year with a lost final in Brisbane before really pushing King Novak in the fourth round of the Aussie Open. He won Sydney last year, which preceded a truly awful clay and grass-court season. But a return to the hard courts saw him flourish, with titles at both the Winston-Salem Open and Japan Open. He would also go on to lose to Roger Federer in the Basel semi-finals. Medvedev - though perhaps not quite as flash as Tsitsipas - is one of the true up-and-coming young talents on tour. His vicious groundstrokes are particularly lethal on this surface, leaving Martin Klizan with everything to do here.  

Just like the Monfils-Tsitsipas encounter, this will be their 2nd meeting. And just like that match-up, the favourite holds sway: Medvedev beat Klizan comfortably last year en route to that Tokyo title to lead their head-to-head 1-0.  But unlike the earlier match I can’t see any reason to doubt the favourite.  Medvedev to win in straight sets at 17/20 looks the only sensible option here.  

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets. 

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