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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for Day 9 of the Australian Open: Nadal vs. Shapovalov and Berrettini vs. Monfils

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his fourth-round win over Adrian Mannarino of France at the Australian Open. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT

By Ricky Dimon

Nobody seeded higher than sixth is still alive in the top half of the draw. Is the door open for Rafael Nadal? Nadal will be bidding for a semifinal spot when he goes up against Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday, while Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils are also in action.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the quarterfinal matchups on Day 9 of the year’s first Grand Slam.

(14) Denis Shapovalov vs. (6) Rafael Nadal

Nadal and Shapovalov will be squaring off for the fifth time in their careers when they clash in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Tuesday. Shapovalov stunned Nadal at the 2017 Montreal Masters when the Canadian was just 18 years old, but the Spaniard has reeled off three consecutive victories since that loss. They most recently faced each other at the 2021 Rome Masters, when Nadal survived 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).

Shapovalov can definitely make this one competitive, as well, even though he is a considerable underdog. The world No. 14 loves the big stage (he reached the Wimbledon semis last summer) and he just thrashed Alexander Zverev in straight sets on Sunday. But he also went to a fourth-set tiebreaker with Laslo Djere in round one and to five sets with Soonwoo Kwon two days later. Consistency has never been Shapovalov’s forte, which makes it especially difficult to defeat Nadal in a best-of-five situation. Nadal is 7-0 so far this season and if he continues his confident, aggressive play he should remain undefeated.

Pick: Nadal in 4

Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini faces Gael Monfils at the Australian Open. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS

(17) Gael Monfils vs. (7) Matteo Berrettini

Like Nadal, Monfils kicked off his 2022 campaign with a title in the first week (Adelaide) and he is going full steam ahead at Melbourne Park. The 20th-ranked Frenchman earned his spot in the quarterfinals by beating Federico Coria, Alexander Bublik, Cristian Garin, and Miomir Kecmanovic all in straight sets.

Up next for Monfils is Berrettini in what will be their second Grand Slam quarterfinal contest. Berrettini survived the first one 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5) at the 2019 U.S. Open, and he took a 2-0 lead in the head-to-head series with a 6-4, 6-2 beatdown at the 2021 ATP Cup. Of course, in 2021 Monfils was a shadow of his pre-pandemic self and also of his current self. The seventh-ranked Italian has been tested the whole way this fortnight, including in a five-setter against Carlos Alcaraz during third-round action. Another great one should be in the cards, and this time Monfils may have the upper hand. He is one of the streakiest players on tour, and right now he is most definitely on a hot streak.

Pick: Monfils in 5

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.