2019 Madrid Masters Quarter Finals: Rafael Nadal vs Stan Wawrinka, Preview and Prediction
The two have faced each other twenty times so far, with Nadal dominating the head to head record 17-3. Of those matches, eight have been on clay and it is the Spaniard who predictably has won seven and lost one. That one loss came way back in the 2015 Rome Masters quarter final.
This may look like a pretty lop-sided rivalry between two top players. But the fact of the matter is that it has become a much closer contest in the last few years. This can be seen from the fact that Nadal won all of his first twelve matches against Wawrinka. Of the later eight, Stan has managed to win three.
However, these two are meeting at a time when neither is in the best of form. Nadal has looked surprisingly off colour during the clay season so far, losing even before reaching the finals at Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
He looks determined to do well here. He has won both his matches, against Felix Auger Aliassime and Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, with relative ease. His serving form has been especially impressive. Against the American, he won a whopping 88 percent of his first serve points and sixty seven percent of his second serve points.
Nadal would certainly like to carry forward that form against Wawrinka, who can be the most destructive player on the planet on his day. The good news for Nadal is that after a long injury lay off, Stan has not yet reached peak form. He has had some middling performances this season, a finals appearance at Rotterdam Open being his best performance, thus far.
At Madrid Masters though, Stan has looked very impressive so far, winning all his matches in straight sets. His quarter final victory over the sixth seed Kei Nishikori must be particularly satisfying for him.
Like Nadal, Stan too is having a great time on his serve. He is yet to be broken even once on his serve in his three matches. Against Nishikori, one of the best returners in the modern game, he won 82 percent of his first serve points and a very impressive 78 percent of his second serve points.
This promises to be one of the most high quality matches of the tournament. At the moment, Nadal may be considered the favourite, but only just.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in Three SetsPublished 10 May 2019, 10:40 IST