Former world number one Rafael Nadal is playing some scintillating tennis in 2017. The 14-time Grand Slam champion is currently riding on a 12 match winning streak after claiming two European clay-court titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Nadal's victory in Monte Carlo was a historic 50th clay court title and the 70th title of his career, which is a staggering achievement. The fourth seed is carrying on his form from Monte Carlo and Barcelona at one of his favourite tournaments at the Mutua Madrid Open. The Spaniard is a four-time champion at the Caja Magica, as the tournament used to be held on indoor hard courts and previously in Hamburg. Nadal's first victory in the Spanish capital was in 2008 when the tournament was in Hamburg.
Nadal's quarterfinal opponent at the Mutua Madrid Open is ninth seed, David Goffin. The two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist has been in good form himself in 2017. The Belgian came into the solitary Masters 1000 event in Spain with a 24-9 win-loss record. The Belgian advanced to his second Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open losing to Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets. The Bulgarian got the better of Goffin once more in his home tournament, Sofia in the final in straight sets. The 26-year-old reached another final in Rotterdam losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The ninth seed's consistency continued on the North American Masters 1000 hard court events as he lost to Pablo Cuevas and Nick Kyrgios respectively in the fourth round in Indian Wells and Miami. The ninth seed's clay court season so far has been respectable, Goffin advanced to his third Masters 1000 semifinal in Monte Carlo losing to Nadal, however, he did defeat former world number one Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals for the first time in a three-set thriller, and just ran out of gas in his semifinal encounter with the "King of Clay."
Nadal's route to the quarterfinals
The four-time Mutua Madrid Open champion received a bye in the first round but he had a tough ordeal in the second round with Fabio Fognini. The Italian defeated Nadal three times out of five in 2015 including a victory in the third round of the US Open in 2015, handing Nadal's first defeat from two sets to love position, and Fognini remarkably came back in style, heaping misery on the Spaniard, who had a dismal campaign. Nonetheless, the nine-time French Open champion was suffering from an ear infection, and he was due to play his first match on Tuesday, which was scheduled to Wednesday. The Spaniard overcame the adversity he faced in his first match against Fognini, prevailing, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 just three minutes shy of the three hours mark. However, Nadal set the record straight in his third round match with 16th seed Nick Kyrgios. The holder of 29 Masters 1000 titles thrashed Kyrgios emphatically, 6-3, 6-1 advancing to the quarterfinals in Madrid for the fifth successive year.
Goffin's route to the quarterfinals
The two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist missed out on a bye by one seeding, however, that hasn't fazed the Belgian, and Goffin has been playing lights out tennis in the Caja Magica. The current world number ten hasn't dropped a set throughout the tournament, and he began his campaign on Sunday against Karen Khachanov, defeating the young Russian, 6-2, 7-6 (8). Goffin followed this up with an impressive, 7-6 (3), 6-0 victory over Florian Mayer. However, the Belgian's most impressive victory of the week was in the third round against fifth seed and last year's Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-2 to seal his berth in the quarterfinals in Madrid for the first time.
Nadal and Goffin have met on one occasion and it was in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. Aforementioned, Goffin recorded the biggest victory of his career by defeating the second seed and former world number one Novak Djokovic for the first time in a high-quality quarterfinal match. The nine-time French Open winner was too good for Goffin, and ultimately eased past him in straight sets to reach the final in Monte Carlo, and he went on to win the title for a record-extending tenth time.
Who reaches the semifinals?
This shall be an interesting quarterfinal match between the duo. Nadal has been serving extremely well this week but a few double faults have crept into Nadal's game this week. The Spaniard's speed has been immense, which he portrayed in his third round match with Kyrgios, as the Australian number one continued to throw in drop shots to unsettle Nadal. Goffin's forehand has been a good weapon throughout the week, and like Nadal, Goffin is comfortable on clay courts. However, the former world number one is full of confidence right now, and he goes into this quarterfinal match with the better form. On the other hand, Goffin can be aggressive, and he doesn't hesitate to come forward to the net, to finish off points quickly. The Belgian is speedy and he is a volleyer like Nadal. This match could go either way but Nadal should have a little too much for the ninth seed.
This quarterfinal encounter is the third match scheduled on the order of play on the Manolo Santana court at not before 4 pm local time, and the winner of this match will have to negotiate a tricky semifinal encounter with sixth seed Kei Nishikori or defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
Prediction: Nadal in straight sets