2013 ATP Monte Carlo Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The first clay Masters of the year starts tomorrow in picturesque Monte-Carlo, as many of the top ATP players begin their tune-ups before the French Open.
Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
April 14-April 21, 2013
Prize Money: € 2,646,495
Top 8 seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Rafael Nadal
3: Andy Murray
4: Tomas Berdych
5: Juan Martin Del Potro
6: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
7: Richard Gasquet
8: Janko Tipsarevic
Roger Federer is not here and David Ferrer is out with a slight injury.
1st round matchups to watch:
Martin Klizan vs. (14)Juan Monaco
Klizan broke a cold slump and started his spring clay campaign with a semifinal showing in Casablanca. Now he’ll face off with Juan Monaco, in Monaco. Monaco broke his own cold slump and made the semis in Houston.
Ivan Dodig vs. Benoit Paire
Dodig last played in Miami and will start his clay campaign against Paire, who comes off another self-destructing loss against Tommy Robredo in the Casablanca quarters. Paire has the talent and the game for clay, but his mental game is a continual let down.
David Goffin vs. (10) Nicolas Almagro
Goffin has had a disappointing early season and sports just a 5-9 record this year but he will have a good chance to get an upset against Almagro, who is a finalist in Houston and will probably have to combat jetlag if he is going to fly across to MC immediately after. Almagro beat Goffin in Miami most recently, but still this match would have to be an upset special.
There was a question as to whether Novak Djokovic would play MC after sustaining a painful ankle injury in his most recent Davis Cup tie, but alas, he is in MC, sporting some tape on his ankle and looking to do well. He will open with Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Mikhail Youzhny and then could play a dangerous Ernests Gulbis in a tricky third round match if Gulbis can beat John Isner and the Klizan/Monaco winner. Gulbis is familiar with the surface and venue as he just played the Davis Cup tie between Latvia and Monaco on the same grounds.
Juan Martin Del Potro looks to get a solid start on clay against the Alex Dogopolov/Bernard Tomic winner, and that first round match is actually a rematch from last year in MC. Del Potro could then play Milos Raonic, Julian Benneteau, Viktor Troicki, or Jarkko Nieminen.
Tomas Berdych will open against a qualifier or Marcel Granollers and should play Andreas Seppi if Seppi beats his countryman Fabio Fognini and then a qualifier or Radek Stepanek.
Last but not least, in the top half, Richard Gasquet will play the Paire/Dodig winner and then could play Marin Cilic/Horacio Zeballos or Jerzy Janowicz/Kevin Anderson. Anderson is a current Casablanca finalist who proved to be adept on clay this week.
Andy Murray has had some of his better clay court showings in Monte Carlo and the winner of the Miami Masters will look to strengthen his hold on the number 2 ranking with a good showing. Muzz will open with Casablanca quarterfinalist Robin Haase or a qualifier and then could play Casablanca semifinalist Stanislas Wawrinka, Denis Istomin, a qualifier, or the charismatic but struggling Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will take on Nikolay Davydenko or a qualifier before facing Almagro/Goffin, a qualifier, or Jurgen Melzer, who comes off a bad first round loss in Casablanca.
Janko Tipsarevic looks to get back on track opening with Grigor Dimitrov or Xaiver Malisse, and then he could get a rematch with Gilles Simon who he lost to in Miami. The winner of that will most likely get the unlucky fortune of having to play the fantastic dominator of Monte-Carlo, a holder of a record 8 straight titles at the event, Rafael Nadal. Nadal is raring to go for title number 9.
Nadal will open with Marinko Matosevic or traditional rival Fernando Verdasco, who has given him good matches in the past but is in a serious slump right and now and not much of anything positive should be expected. Nadal could then run into Thomaz Bellucci or Phillip Kohlschreiber, who could both use some mojo right now. Jeremy Chardy or a qualifier are also options. It appears that Nadal will have quite the easy start.
Dark Horse: Ernests Gulbis
Monte-Carlo looks like a bracket where the top tier players will do well, but Gulbis has the best chance to break that circle as an outsider if he can shock a hobbled Djokovic, who probably is not 100%. As previously mentioned, the Latvian is familiar with the conditions and he is having a solid year.
Del Potro d. Gulbis
Gasquet d. Seppi
Nadal d. Simon
Murray d. Tsonga
Del Po has a good draw lined up. I think Gulbis can shock a hobbled Djokovic, and Seppi could challenge Gasquet (but I have to give the Frenchmen the edge). Nadal is too good for Simon and Murray should squeak by Tsonga.
Del Potro d. Gasquet
Nadal d. Murray
Del Potro is 5-1 career h2h vs Gasquet, including a win in 2012 in Estoril on clay and Nadal is 4-0 on clay against Murray.
Nadal d. Del Potro
It really is hard to find a reason to pick against Nadal in Monte-Carlo. Furthermore, Del Potro has never beaten Rafa on clay.