Quarter-final preview: And then there were 8

Friday, Jul 29

And then there were eight.

Thursday saw Rogers Cup presented by National Bank third-round action dwindle the crowded schedule to just four singles matches for quarter-final Friday, as top four seeds Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic stayed alive.

How will their respective quarters go? And could we get the top four in the final four? Here, we break down the match-ups to come on Day 7 of Rogers Cup.

Top half
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [5] Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 24-2
It’s hard to imagine Djokovic losing this one, isn’t it? He last was defeated by the Czech man in 2013 on clay, winning 11 straight since. The problem for Berdych is that his game plays right into the wheelhouse of Djokovic, and the world No. 1 has a strike zone that is as dangerous as any.

[4] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. [10] Gael Monfils (FRA)
Head-to-head: Tied 2-2
Hey highlight reels, are you ready for this one? Raonic will bring his serve and Monfils will bring his all-court dynamics for a spot in the semifinals. Raonic has been unchallenged so far, loser of just 11 games in two matches. Monfils, meanwhile, has registered wins over Vasek Pospisil and David Goffin to continue his eight-match win steak dating back to his title last week in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve got to play well. I have to dictate,” Raonic said of the match-up. “He can do a lot of things. He can make you play a lot of balls.”

Bottom half
[3] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Head-to-head: Nishikori, 2-0
It’s the form of Nishikori against the surging confidence of Dimitrov, who has won back-to-back-to-back matches for the first time since April. A former Top 10 resident, Dimitrov will look to build off a straight-sets win over Ivo Karlovic when he meets Nishikori, though the Japanese world No. 6 is steely from the baseline, while Dimitrov can go awry.

It’s their third meeting at a Masters 1000 hard-court event, Nishikori having won in Shanghai in 2013 as well as Miami 2014 prior.

[2] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Kevin Anderson (RSA)
Head-to-head: Tied 4-4
Wawrinka, the No. 2 seed, has looked in full flight so far this tournament, dismissing both Mikhail Youzhny and Jack Sock in straight sets. Like Dimitrov, this has been a resurgent tournament of sorts for Anderson, the former world No. 10, who battled ankle and shoulder injuries earlier in the year. It’s his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since Shanghai last fall, and he’ll look to use his .500 batting average against Stan to advance to a first-ever semifinal at this level.

“I’ve lost many times against him,” Wawrinka said of Anderson. “I lost two years ago when I played him here. It’s going to be an interesting match to play again against him. It’s always been difficult to beat him, but hopefully I can do that tomorrow.”