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Ricky’s Preview & Picks For Day 8 Of The U.S. Open, Including Nadal vs. Cilic, Also Playing Monfils, Rublev

By Ricky Dimon

The fourth round of the U.S. Open will wrap up on Monday, when Rafael Nadal continues his quest for a fourth U.S. Open title against Marin Cilic. Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev, and Gael Monfils are also aiming for a quarterfinal spots.

Ricky previews the action and makes his predictions.

(22) Marin Cilic vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Can anyone stop Nadal in the bottom half of the draw? Perhaps not, as it was expected to be a relative Nadal cakewalk even before the first day of main-draw action and now he as an even bigger favorite to reach the final following a whole host of early exits by contenders. Neither John Millman not Hyeon Chung came close to beating him and he got a second-round walkover from Thanasi Kokkinakis. 

Next up for the reigning Montreal champion is Cilic, who trails the head-to-head series 6-2. Nadal has won six in a row against Cilic not counting matches that ended in retirement. The 2014 U.S. Open winner has done well to reach the fourth round, but for the most part his 2019 campaign has been a massive struggle. Based on his current form, there is no reason to think Cilic can seriously test Nadal.

Pick: Nadal in 3

(13) Gael Monfils vs. Pablo Andujar

Monfils has made the most of a favorable draw and it continues with Andujar, as a place in not only the quarterfinals but also the semis is there for the taking. The world No. 13 from France opened with straight-set beatdowns of Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Marius Copil before outlasting Denis Shapovalov in a 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 thriller on Saturday night. Monfils has been healthy just long enough this season to reach the quarterfinals in Indian Wells and the semis in Montreal (both ended in walkovers), and he appears to injury free once again.

Andujar has capitalized on an even friendlier draw to make a shocking fourth-round appearance. The 33-year-old Spaniard had been a mere 10-12 at the ATP level in 2019 prior to this fortnight, with only two wins on hard courts. Nonetheless, Andujar has managed to defeat Kyle Edmund, Lorenzo Sonego, and Alexander Bublik at Flushing Meadows. A steep step up in competition will likely see the end of the world No. 70’s productive week.

Pick: Monfils in 4

Andrey Rublev vs. (24) Matteo Berrettini

Berrettini and Rublev will be squaring off for the third time in their careers. They have taken turns making a big impact on tour this summer, with Rublev most recently seizing the headlines. The 21-year-old Russian finished runner-up in Hamburg, upset Roger Federer en route to the Cincinnati quarterfinals, achieved the same result in Winston-Salem, and so far this fortnight has ousted Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gilles Simon (via second-set retirement), and Nick Kyrgios. Rublev is through to the USO quarters for the second time in his short career.

The world No. 43 ran into Nadal the last time he reached the final eight, but this time around his rough draw through three rounds becomes a friendly one. Although Berrettini is no easy out, for the fourth round of a major Rublev could not ask for a better opportunity. The 25th-ranked Italian suffered an ankle injury after Wimbledon and played only one hard-court match prior to this event, losing to Juan Ignacio Londero in the Cincinnati opening round. That halted his momentum from a title in Stuttgart, a semifinal run in Halle, and a trip to the second week at the AELTC. Suddenly, Berrettini is back on track thanks to victories over Richard Gasquet, Jordan Thompson, and Alexei Popyrin. Rublev’s sample size of recent hard-court success is much larger and he was the more impressive player throughout week one, so he should have an edge.

Pick: Rublev in 4

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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