It’s the Field vs. Rafael Nadal at ATP Monte Carlo 2018
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Rafael Nadal is the top seed and a heavy favorite in Monte Carlo, where he has dominated during his career. This is the biggest event of the ATP’s clay court season so far, and the first real tune-up for Roland Garros. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
Rafa Nadal only lost 1 match on clay last year. After a solid Davis Cup result he looks set to get past Aljaz Bedene/qualifier, then Gilles Simon or Karen Khachanov in round 3. Khachanov has an interesting match with Thanasi Kokkinakis, who doesn’t play often on clay, while Simon opens with Adrian Mannarino. Simon is the most accomplished player in the section and I have him falling to Rafa round 3.
Novak Djokovic lost his first two matches back from injury and ditched Andre Agassi in the process. Novak’s first match will be against a qualifier, with Borna Coric/Julien Benneteau to follow. Coric is a rising star and with Novak’s form a major question mark, I’ll go with Coric to win that second round match against Djokovic. Dominic Thiem is solid on clay and I’ll back against Robin Haase/Andrey Rublev, both of whom are struggling, and then Coric/Djokovic in round 3.Embed from Getty Images
Grigor Dimitrov gets the bye, but I have him falling to Filip Krajinovic in a round 2 upset. Krajinovic is in better form and gets struggling dirtballer Paolo Lorenzi in round 1. The section featuring Tennys Sandgren/Philipp Kohlschreiber and Jared Donaldson/Albert Ramos is interesting. Kohli should be a small favorite to get past Ramos and reach round 3, with Krajinovic the favorite at that stage.Embed from Getty Images
I’ll back Roberto Bautista Agut to make a run, starting against Peter Gojowczyk with Benoit Paire/Feliciano Lopez to follow. David Goffin is seeded here, but his eye injury still makes him a big question mark. I’ll go with Denis Shapovalov to find form on clay, beating a qualifier and Goffin before falling to RBA in round 3.
Marin Cilic vs. Fernando Verdasco/Pablo Cuevas looks like a juicy round 2 matchup. I’ll back Cuevas in a minor upset before falling to Cilic in round 2. Damir Dzumhur faces a qualifier, with Milos Raonic on deck. Raonic opens with a local wild card, Lucas Catarina, and should ease into round 3, then edge Cilic at that stage.
Pablo Carreno Busta and the winner of Kei Nishikori/Tomas Berdych should be favorites to meet in round 3. PCB opens with the in-form Kyle Edmund or Alex Dolgopolov, while Berdych takes on Nishikori, with Marton Fucsovics/Daniil Medvedev to follow. I’ll go with PCB to run the table beating Edmund and Berdych to reach round 4.
Alexander Zverev was great in Miami, back on clay he should perform well against a qualifier or Gilles Muller, with Fabio Fognini most likely to follow in round 3. Fognini opens with a qualifier, Yuichi Sugita or J.L. Struff will follow. Zverev over Fognini is my pick for this section.
It’s a battle of Argentines as Diego Schwartzman opens as the favorite against Guido Pella. Richard Gasquet/qualifier will follow in a solid round 2 match. I’ll go with Schwartzman over Gasquet, with Lucas Pouille set to beat Mischa Zverev/Felix Auger-Aliassime, and then defeat Schwartzman in the third round.Embed from Getty Images
Nadal d. Thiem
Bautista Agut d. Krajinovic
Zverev d. Pouille
Raonic d. Carreno Busta
Raonic or PCB could make the final, and that quarterfinal looks like a toss-up, Pouille and Thiem also have chances but this looks like the most likely quarterfinal outcomes.
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Nadal d. Bautista Agut
Zverev d. Raonic
In a rematch of their Davis Cup contest, I’ll back Nadal to win another MC title and decimate Zverev after buzzsawing through the field as a whole.
Nadal d. Zverev