Citi Open Headliners Take on The Big 3

By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)

 

As the Big Three of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal look to continue their Grand Slam dominance on Wednesday in England, a trio of Citi Open headliners will aim to extend their own Wimbledon dreams in the quarterfinals.

No. 8 Kei Nishikori, No. 21 David Goffin and American Sam Querrey will all be in D.C. later this month, but first all three have their sights set on an elusive Grand Slam title at the All-England Club.

Below are Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinal matches:

CENTRE COURT START 8:00 A.M. EST

No. 1 Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. No. 21 David Goffin (BEL)

No. 2 Roger Federer (SUI) vs. No. 8 Kei Nishikori (JPN)

No. 1 COURT START 8:00 A.M. EST

No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. No. 26 Guido Pella (ARG)

No. 3 Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Sam Querrey (USA)

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GOFFIN INTO FIRST WIMBLEDON QUARTERS

Former world No. 7 David Goffin has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time in his career and will next face No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

While Djokovic has won five of their six previous meetings, Goffin won their most recent encounter during the Monte Carlo Masters in 2017.

Goffin advanced to the Final-8 this week with a four-set triumph over Fernando Verdasco in the Round of 16 on Manic Monday. The No. 21 seed has played very well on grass this spring winning 10 of his last 12 matches, including a run to the final in Halle.

While Goffin recognizes that he’s the underdog against the 15x Grand Slam champion, the Belgian says he’s embracing the opportunity after an inconsistent start to his 2019 season. Goffin is looking to reach his first career Major semifinal.

“I knew that it’s my favorite tournament and I knew that I had the game to play well on grass,” Goffin told reporters. “To reach the quarterfinals for the first time, it means a lot, and especially because a few months ago, I had tough moments on the court, tough moments off the court. Now, to be back with my best tennis, especially here, it’s the perfect place and the perfect moment.”

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FRESH NISHIKORI EYES ELUSIVE MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH:

No. 8 Kei Nishikori has been here before. For the fifth consecutive Grand Slam tournament, Nishikori has reached the quarterfinals. Only Djokovic and Nadal can claim the same over the last 12 months.

That’s good company for Nishikori to keep, but unlike Djokovic and Nadal, Nishikori hasn’t played for a Grand Slam title since reaching the 2014 U.S. Open final.

Nishikori’s quest for a maiden trip to the Wimbledon final faces its biggest test Wednesday when he’ll be opposed by No. 2 Roger Federer. Federer has won seven of their ten meetings, but Nishikori won their most recent match at the Nitto ATP Finals last November in London.

Nishikori has been cruising at Wimbledon so far, dropping only one set en route to the quarters. That’s a big difference for Nishikori who earlier this year won three five-set marathons at the Australian Open before falling in the quarters, and then won back-to-back five setters at the French Open before eventually running out of gas in the quarterfinals.

“That’s going to be the next step,” Nishikori said before The Championships of limiting his time on court early in Majors to ensure his fresher by the second week.

Nishikori has answered that first self-imposed challenge. Now he has a chance to make good on his second pre-tournament goal.

“I’m always stuck in the quarterfinals in Grand Slams,” he said. “I think the next goal is to be in the semifinals or final. It’s not going to be easy because I’ve probably got to beat someone from the top three.”

Nishikori gets another crack at it on Centre Court.

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QUERREY SERVES WAY INTO QUARTERS:

Sam Querrey is the only unseeded player remaining in the men’s draw, but the Wimbledon quarterfinals are hardly foreign for the 6’6” American.

Querrey reached the quarters for the third time in four years Monday after beating countryman Tennys Sandgren in four sets. Querrey was never broken and fired 25 of his tournament-high 100 aces. One of the best servers in the game has come as advertised at the All-England Club, where Querrey has won a remarkable 56 of 57 service games.

The 31-year-old has now won eight of his last nine matches overall, including a run to the Eastbourne final just before Wimbledon. Not bad for a guy who just returned last month after an 11-week absence due to an abdominal injury.

Querrey is making up for lost time but knows a tough challenge awaits in the form of the 18x Grand Slam champ, Nadal.

“He does not give you a point, and being lefty it’s a challenge itself,” Querrey told reporters. “He is intense, wins points and has energy. And he knows when he is out there that he will do all the impossible to beat you… On my side, I will try the best I can and hit hard on every point.”

Nadal has won four of their five previous meetings with Querrey winning their last encounter- the championship match at Acapulco in 2017.

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WTA: WORTH THE WAIT AS STRYCOVA REACHES FIRST WIMBLEDON SF

Good things come to those who wait. Just ask WTA veteran and Citi Open headliner Barbora Strycova, who has advanced to her first career Grand Slam semifinal in her 53rd Major tournament.

Strycova, 33, is competing at Wimbledon for the 17th consecutive year. Only once before had she advanced as far as the quarterfinals.

On Tuesday, the world No.54 rallied from 4-1 down in the first set and beat the No. 1 Brit Johanna Konta 7-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinals on Centre Court.

“This was one of the best matches I’ve played,” Strycova told reporters.

Strycova will look to keep the dream alive on Thursday when she meets 23x Grand Slam champion Serena Williams with a berth in the Wimbledon final at stake.

 

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