Barcelona Open: Nadal, Thiem into the quarterfinals, Zverev out

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The last two days at the Barcelona Open have been marred by a lot of rain, which is quite unusual at Barcelona at this time of the year, but the tournament is still on schedule with the quarterfinalists already decided.

Nadal made tennis history by being the first player ever to play a match in a court named after themselves, and he made short work of both Dutra Silva and Anderson en route to the quarterfinals, and is looking good for a 10th Barcelona title. A fan favorite at the tournament, Nadal looks set to keep rewriting all the clay tennis history books.

Nadal’s opponent will be Hyeon Chung, who’s been on a tear all week since qualifying and easily dismantled fellow “Next Gen” member Alexandr Zverev in R16. The match isn’t exactly expected to be competitive but given the form Chung has shown this week you can’t write him off here. Chung has not lost more than four games in any set so far this week.

Another young player making inroads in the the top half of the draw is Karen Khachanov. Back to the place where he beat Bautista-Agut last year, Khachanov has done even better this year, stringing together wins over Cuevas and a first career top 10 win over Goffin with his incredibly powerful serve and ground game. A golden chance to reach a first ATP 500 is on the cards as well, with Horacio Zeballos waiting in the quarters after winning a marathon match against Paire.

In the bottom half, things have gone more or less according to plan. Murray and Thiem haven’t struggled much to reach the quarters, and Murray is actually facing Ramos in a Monte Carlo rematch. The World #1 will surely be very determined to avoid losing to the same much lower ranked opponent in back to back weeks and finally get his 2017 season back in track after a very poor start for his standards.

Thiem, on the other hand, will be facing the biggest surprise of the tournament, Yuichi Sugita. The Japanese entered the tournament as a lucky loser and against all odds stringed consecutive upset wins over Tommy Robredo, Richard Gasquet, and Pablo Carreno-Busta, playing incredibly solid and consistent tennis all week, leading some to joke that it’s almost as if his countryman has taken over his body. Normally you’d think Thiem would be a step too far, but most already thought that in each of the three previous matches and the reality is that if Sugita can keep up the level he has shown he has a chance against anyone.

Quarterfinal predictions:

Nadal in 2 sets

Khachanov in 2 sets

Thiem in 3 sets

Murray in 2 sets

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