Damien Kayat takes a look at the selected Quarterfinal matches from the ABN AMRO Tennis Tournament taking place at Rotterdam Ahoy Indoor Hardcourt.
ATP Tour 2020 | ABN AMRO Tournament | Rotterdam Ahoy (Indoor Hardcourt)
Selected Quarterfinals- 14 February 2020
Gael Monfils (9/20)
vs Dan Evans (7/4)
Gael Monfils extended his magnificent Rotterdam run to eleven wins from twelve matches, easily overcoming compatriot Gilles Simon in the last round. Last year’s champion has slightly defied my expectations, showing little lethargy in two convincing straight-set routs. Perhaps understanding that he is getting on in years, Monfils seems far more intent on being clinical in the early stages of events. I was impressed with how well he served in crunch situations against Simon- a man who had caused him serious grief in times gone past. Monfils won in Montpellier last week and will be keen to double up here in Rotterdam. Looking at his performances in Canada and Flushing Meadows leading into this year, there are signs that Gael Monfils could make a concerted push for Grand Slam glory at some point this season
Switching swiftly from fulfilled enigmatic talent to unfulfilled enigmatic talent, Dan Evans has oft been referred to as the bad boy of British tennis, failing a drug test for cocaine in 2017. he 29-year-old has been on a steady home to rehabilitation, reaching the final of the Delray Beach Open last year. He followed that up with back-to-back victories in the Surbiton Trophy and Nottingham Challenger. Yes, these were admittedly lower grade events, but they did show that Evans had it in him to consistently win tennis matches. And he has come through a very tricky draw thus far this week. He beat the doughty Phillip Kohlschreiber in straight before a tricky three-set victory over Karen Khachanov. But Monfils will pose a different threat in his current form. But Evans is a pugnacious character who will look to stop the Monfils-Rotterdam love affair.
This will only be their second-ever meeting, which surprised me given their relative experience. Monfils won their only match in 2017, though it was a hard-fought three-set victory in Dubai. I have been doubting Monfils over the last few weeks, thinking continually that he will slip up amidst this little golden run. But I have been so impressed with his clinical performances thus far, I think that a straight-sets victory for Monfils at 11/10 may be the best bet here.
Andrey Rublev (7/20)
vs Filip Krajinovic (5/2)
Rublev has really risen from the ghetto of forgotten male players. Runner up in the 2017 NextGen Finals, Rublev stood at the precipice of superstardom. But 2018 was a bust for Rublev, with the likes of Medvedev and Khachanov going beyond him. But 2019 saw a slight change in fortunes, with Rublev reaching the final of the German Open prior to capturing the Kremlin title. Andrey Rublev has won more matches than any other player in 2020. The Russian currently has a win-loss record of 13-1. The diminutive Rublev won titles in Qatar and Adelaide prior to a decent 4th round run in Melbourne. This week he has thrashed both Basilashvili and Bublik, wielding that forehand with the confidence of Mjolnir. Rublev probably hits the ball as hard as any other player on the tour and will go into this as a huge favourite.
Serbian Filip Krajinovic may not quite be in the form of Rublev, but his trajectory over the last two years bears similarities. He looked on the verge of greatness following his 2017 appearance in the Paris Masters Final. But injuries and loss of form saw him slide down the rankings dismally in 2018. But there were signs of rejuvenation last season, with the Serb reaching the final of the Hungarian Open. Later in the season, he reached the final of the Stockholm Open- also an indoor hardcourt event. While claims to be a clay aficionado, his results seem to indicate a liking for fast indoor arenas. Last night he brought an end to the fairy-tale run of Canadian veteran Vasek Pospisil. He had moments of self-doubt in that match, almost throwing it away against a visibly ailing Pospisil.
This will be the third meeting between Rublev and Krajinovic. The Serb won their first meeting in 2017. But Rublev absolutely decimated the Serb in last year’s Davis Cup. And I suspect that this will be more of the same. Rublev is possibly playing the best consistent tennis outside of the ‘Top Three’ at the present moment. Krajinovic looked vulnerable against Pospisil and was perhaps slightly fortunate that it never went to a final set. Rublev to win in straight sets at 5/6.