Nadal vs Monfils, the Pick: On grass Rafa in the semis against Gael, in Stuttgart

Nadal USO 13 MALT8797

JUNE 12- Stuttgart again? My, maybe someday Germany will be in the Masters 1000 ATP again, as well as the WTA Premier Mandatory. Stuttgart already has a WTA tournament during April on clay indoors, which had a ton of fans. This week, at Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, there is a very good selection, which is unusual given that it’s the week after Roland Garros. But now things are different, as for the first time, Wimbledon is three weeks ahead, not two weeks, so the players have more time. That is a good thing.

Rafael Nadal, who lost against Novak Djokovic in the quarters at RG, is ready to rumble. He is not perfect – he’s not even close – but little by little he is improving. On Friday, he bested Aussie Bernard Tomic 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3, which was good enough. Tomic has been pretty consistent this year, but he has not been able to overcome the big boys. Still, he is very creative and the No. 24 has a decent shot at Wimbledon to reach the quarterfinals, or the semis, but he has to step it up and really believe in himself.

Nadal can win Wimbledon once again (he has won the Slam twice) but he has to grab a title before he gets there. How about this weekend in Stuttgart? The No. 10 will face Gael Monfils, who beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5 3-6 6-3, which could be a terrific contest, but the Frenchman is hurt once again and it’s impossible to know how he will turn up. Recall that in RG, Monfils looked like he was ready to shine against Roger Federer, but in the second day his legs were sore and he was gone. That is what will happen in the semis when Nadal will win in three sets as Monfils was hurting once again.

Here is another: the former US Open champion Marin Cilic will face Victor Troicki in the semis. This summer, he is trying hard to get back after he missed most of the fall and the first quarter this year. He can serve huge. He will overcome the consistent Troicki in straight sets.

In the WTA, the Topshelf Open at the Netherlands has a dramatic day when the teenager Belinda Bencic beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-5, and Camila Giorgi overcame Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6 6-3 7-6(9). Bencic should be able to make the top 32 at Wimbledon or better but she will have a hard time in the semis against Jelena Jankovic, while Giorgi will be pretty tired against the local hero, Kiki Bertens. You have to like the veteran Jankovic as well as Bertens will here the fans cheering for her.

In Nottingham, Agnieszka Radwanska beat Lauren Davis 6-2 6-2 and perhaps she is feeling a little better now after an awful season. She does love grass and she will face Monica Niculescu, who is pretty decent. For Radwanska, winning against anyone, anytime is mandatory. If she wins the event, then we are talking about her once again.

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