Rafael Nadal proved his continued impenetrability on clay with a 6-3 6-2 win over Kei Nishikkori in the Monte Carlo final, and a run of play in Monaco that saw him win every match with ease. Nadal buzzed past Aljaz Bedene, Karen Khachanov, Dominic Thiem, and Grigor Dimitrov, never losing more than 4 games in a single set all week. I twas perhaps the most dominant single tournament performance in ATP history, and it came at the Masters 1000 level no less against a solid group of opponents.
While Nadal looked unstoppable, Kei Nishikori looked healthy. His strongest run of play this season saw a win in three sets against Tomas Berdych, straight set victories over Daniil Medvedev and Andreas Seppi, and then narrow three set wins over Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev to reach the final. Nishikori’s form this week suggests he could return to the top 10 by season’s end.
The Bryan Brothers beat Marach/Pavic in the doubles final, wrapping up a solid week for the veteran pairing.
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.
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.
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.
2017 ATP Monte Carlo Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The first clay court Masters of the season is once again upon us as most of the world’s best have traveled down to the French Riviera for clay court tennis action on the coast. Here is your preview, with predictions of this luxurious event.
Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Monte Carl0, Monaco
April 16-23, 2017
Prize Money: €4,273,775
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Andy Murray (1)
2: Novak Djokovic (2)
3: Stan Wawrinka (3)
4: Rafael Nadal (5)
5: Marin Cilic (8)
6: Dominic Thiem (9)
7: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10)
8: Grigor Dimitrov (12)
Red-hot Roger Federer, Defending finalist Gael Monfils, his countryman Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Nick Kyrgios, and David Ferrer are all notably absent from the Monte Carlo Masters this year.
First round matchups to watch:
Benoit Paire vs. Tommy Haas
At 39 Tommy Haas continues to play on, and he showed signs of life last week in Houston, winning a match on clay and competing hard for his best result since 2015. Paire 7-2 over his last two tournaments, should win this easily, but at times his focus wavers and Haas has nothing to lose in this one. Paire should prevail but we’ll see what Haas has left in the tank, he could retire this summer on grass in Germany, but we’ll see.
(16)Pablo Cuevas vs. Viktor Troicki
Cuevas is 0-3 in the h2h vs. Troicki, but the Serbian is not as accomplished on clay compared to Cuevas, and Cuevas already has an ATP title on clay this season. Even as a veteran, Cuevas would love to break new ground and get his first win against Troicki.
(13)Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Fabio Fognini
PCB leads Fognini 4-0 in the h2h, which means he should win this one, despite Fognini’s burst of form that saw him reach the semifinals in Miami. This should be a classic clay court battle. Fognini has more upside, but PCB is much more consistent and most likely in a round 1 contest PCB should have a slight edge.
Despite an elbow injury and relative under-performance this year, Andy Murray still is 12-3 this year and the world #1. Murray should be fit enough to beat veteran Tommy Robredo in round 2, presuming Robredo beats Gilles Muller after a good run to the quarterfinals in Marrakech. Murray would then face either Philipp Kohlschreiber or Albert Ramos most likely. Ramos faces qualifier Renzo Olivo, while Kohlschreiber gets qualifier Carlos Berlocq. Kohli pushed Murray in Dubai, and had match points, but couldn’t take the match. After losing the Marrakech final, Kohlschreiber probably isn’t in the best mental state, and Murray is the clear favorite against either Ramos or Kohli to reach the quarterfinals.
Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych are the top seeds in the section below, Cilic is struggling and Berdych is a former MC finalist. Look for Berdych to beat Andrey Kuznetsov, then Paire/Haas, while I have Cilic getting upset by his countryman Borna Coric, who claimed his first ATP title last week in Marrakech and opens with Jeremy Chardy. Berdych hasn’t had a great season, but he should reach the quarterfinals before falling to Murray.
Former MC champ Stan Wawrinka will be happy to see no Roger Federer in this draw, he looks set to perform well, as neither Marrakech semifinalist Jiri Vesely or an underperforming Mischa Zverev are overly difficult in round 2. Cuevas should beat Troicki and then Joao Sousa, who beat Florian Mayer round 1, to setup their third round contest, with Wawrinka as a clear favorite.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga gets a qualifier in round 2, either Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Adrian Mannarino. No matter the winner of that match, Tsonga should extend his 17-4 record this season with a win, and also defeat his countryman Lucas Pouille in round 3, presuming Pouille beats Ryan Harrison, which is likely on clay, along with either Marcel Granollers or Paolo Lorenzi. Lorenzi could be a threat here, but Tsonga over Pouille is a sensible prediction.
After dealing with his own injury problems, Novak Djokovic will face Gilles Simon, a winner on Sunday over Malek Jaziri, in round 2. Look for Djokovic to make it 11 straight against Simon and begin his quest for a third Monte-Carlo title. Djokovic looks set to face Pablo Carreno Busta in round 3, as PCB should beat Fognini and either Karen Khachanov or Nicolas Mahut.
David Goffin and Dominic Thiem look to be on a collision course yet again after Goffin finished off his countryman Steve Darcis on Sunday. Thiem needs to defeat either Federico Delbonis or Robin Haase, while Goffin now gets Martin Klizan or Nicolas Almagro. A solid clay courter, Delbonis will have a chance to disrupt expectations, but Thiem over Goffin is my choice in round 3, after Goffin beats Klizan. Goffin is more consistent than Thiem, but on clay, the Austrian has more upside.
Nine-time and defending MC champ Rafael Nadal should blitz past either Dan Evans or Kyle Edmund, and then beat Alexander Zverev in round 3, as Zverev will be favored against Andreas Seppi and Feliciano Lopez/Daniil Medvedev. Denied a title this season, Nadal should be highly motivated at a venue he’s been so successful at, look for Rafa to roll safely into the quarters, while Zverev edges through a week section into round 3.
Grigor Dimitrov has now lost three straight after a hot start, and he needs to watch out against either Jan-Lennard Struff or the young gun Casper Ruud. Both players are solid on clay and will be highly motivated to try and get an upset, I will pick Dimitrov to prevail but I have him losing to the consistent Roberto Bautista Agut, as RBA should beat Nikoloz Basilashvili, and Diego Schwartzman/Bernard Tomic. Tomic has had a terrible season thus far.
Dark Horses: Borna Coric and Jan-Lennard Struff
Coric just won his first title, and beyond Cilic, Berdych is not the most difficult third round opponent in a Masters, particularly at this stage in his career. Coric will need to reach new heights and deal with fatigue, but I don’t count this young gun out. Struff meanwhile has a winnable second round match on deck with Dimitrov after facing Ruud, and the only other difficult seed in the section is Bautista Agut. Struff has always had the game to get big wins but he’s been lacking in the mental department.
Quarters Murray d. Berdych
Wawrinka d. Tsonga
Nadal d. Bautista Agut
Djokovic d. Thiem
The big four of this tournament should make the semis, Wawrinka and Djokovic may be at risk, but it will require great results from Tsonga and Thiem, beyond what they normally produce, or terrible showings on the part of the Swiss and Serbian. Murray and Nadal meanwhile don’t have the most difficult of draws, and Rafa on clay is just not someone to pick against when not facing a top 5 player.
Semis Wawrinka d. Murray
Nadal d. Djokovic
Barring a big change, Nadal and Wawrinka should be favored on clay in these potential semifinals. Djokovic’s level has dipped, Nadal has returned to a top 5 level of play, while Murray has always dipped, while Wawrinka’s peak remains elite.
Final Nadal d. Wawrinka
I’m not enough of a risk-taker to go against Nadal in Monte-Carlo.
Rafael Nadal won his first Monte Carlo title in four years, his first Masters title since 2014, and his first ATP title since the middle of last year with an exciting 7-5 5-7 6-0 victory over Gael Monfils, that establishes Rafa as one of the top challengers to Novak Djokovic on clay this season, and puts him back into the top 5 ATP conversation. Monfils competed hard for two sets, refusing to go away, but Nadal simply overpowered him on the third set.
Nadal scored wins over Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka as well this week, as he appeared to be renewed, and newly energetic upon his return to red clay. His match with Murray was a three setter, while he defeated both Aljaz Bedene, and Dominic Thiem in straight sets early on in the week. Defeating four tough opponents in consecutive fashion is a critical confidence builder for the legendary Spaniard, he still has numerous clay court tournaments ahead of him this year.
Gael Monfils reached his second ATP final of the season, and his first Masters final in six years after his draw was weakened immeasurably by Jiri Vesely’s stunning defeat of world #1 Novak Djokovic. Monfils beat Gilles Muller, Paolo Lorenzi, Vesely, Marcel Granollers, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga without dropping a set, and he is looking like a French Open dark horse, given that RG is his home slam.
Monfils hasn’t lost this spring to a non-top 10 player and is in fantastic form. Roger Federer was upset by Tsonga upon his return to tennis, and Djokovic was of course shocked by Vesely in one of the worst losses of his career. After appearing unstoppable, he had a day of mortal tennis, against an opponent who was clutch in taking advantage of his poor play.
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert continued their winning ways in doubles, capturing the title over Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, as two of the top doubles teams in the world impressed at the Rolex Masters.
If Nadal returns to an elite level on clay, Murray continues his good clay court form, and Djokovic and Federer sort themselves out, along with possibly Wawrinka, and some of the French contingent, including Monfils, posing a threat, the 2016 clay court season should end up being the best part of the season.
2016 ATP Monte Carlo Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The red clay season in Europe begins with the Masters 1000 level Monte Carlo stop in the French Riveria. Here is a preview and predictions.
Monte Carlo Rolex Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Monte Carlo, Monaco
April 10-17, 2016
Prize Money: €3,748,925
Top 8 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Andy Murray (2)
3: Roger Federer (3)
4: Stan Wawrinka (4)
5: Rafael Nadal (5)
6: Tomas Berdych (7)
7: David Ferrer (8)
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9)
Kei Nishikori, John Isner, Kevin Anderson, and Nick Kyrgios are the only big names missing from the MC Masters draw, note this is not a mandatory Masters tournament.
A battle of 18 year olds that should develop into a future rivalry. Zverev has thus far outpaced Rublev, developing quickly and nearing the top 50. Rublev still languishes outside the top 150, and he has considerably less ATP experience and results, he’s spent most of his time on the challenger tour. Zverev was 9-8 on clay this year, and has improved as a player this year, thus he should dispatch Rublev, but enjoy the shotmaking.
(9)Richard Gasquet vs. Nicolas Almagro
Gasquet should win his fourth straight meeting against the fellow veteran Almagro. The Frenchman is 5-2 over his last seven matches, and playing with home support should further give him a boost. Almagro has been a poor 2-4 since reaching the Buenos Aires final. The veteran Spaniard has been unable to consistently show the form that once made him a top 20 player, still this is an intriguing one handed backhand battle in round 1.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Borna Coric
Kohlschreiber defeated the young gun Coric earlier this year in Dubai, and he’s had a few weeks off since Indian Wells. Coric is currently in the Marrakech final and has demonstrated good form on clay. Given the fatigue factor, Kohli is likely the favorite, but this should be a quality contest as well.
The defending and two-time Monte Carlo champion Novak Djokovic will open with either Jiri Vesely or Teymuraz Gabashvili. Vesely was a semifinalist in Marrakech and with Gabashvili on a five match losing streak, I see Djokovic beating Vesely to reach round 3. In round 3, Gael Monfils is Novak’s likely opponent. The Frenchman is 7-2 over his last nine matches, and will have plenty of home support in MC. Monfils opens with serve and volleyer Gilles Muller, with an Italian to follow, either Fabio Fognini or Paolo Lorenzi. Fognini is returning from an injury, and leads the h2h with Lorenzi 4-0. Djokovic is 11-0 in ATP matches against Monfils, and given his strong recent form he should prevail again.
David Ferrer will have a tough match against the Zverev/Rublev winner, Ferrer dominated Zverev when they met on clay back in 2014, but things have changed, and with his mediocre 2-2 form over his last four matches, he should be on upset alert. Given this is clay, I do tip Ferrer into the third round though. David Goffin is set to have another good Masters tournament as well. The #11 seed opens with current Houston semifinalist Feliciano Lopez with Fernando Verdasco or current Marrakech finalist Federico Delbonis to follow. Given Lopez, and Delbonis should both be jet lagged, Goffin should defeat Verdasco. The Belgian is solid on clay, and reached consecutive semifinals in IW and Miami in recent weeks. Ferrer is 2-0 against Goffin, but given recent form, I give the Belgian the quarterfinal spot.
Roger Federer will make his long awaited return from injury, after an illness forced him out of Miami. The Swiss legend opens with either Thomaz Bellucci or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez before a likely third round meeting against solid Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. GGL is facing a player on a five match losing streak in Bellucci. RBA opens with dirtballer Albert Ramos, with either Jeremy Chardy, or more likely Andrey Kuznetsov to follow. Kuznetsov is rapidly improving and inside the top 50 now, but RBA’s steady play should be enough to beat him. Federer is 4-0 and has never dropped a set against RBA, so thus if he’s not too rusty he should prevail.
Top French players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gasquet appear set for a red dirt collision course in the section below Federer. Tsonga will open with Pablo Carreno Busta or a qualifier, while Gasquet faces either Nicolas Mahut or Lucas Pouille after facing a qualifier. The Marrakech quarterfinalist PCB could trouble a shaky Tsonga, but Jo likely prevails while Gasquet should defeat the young Pouille. Gasquet has the clay win over Tsonga and slightly better form, so he should move the h2h to 5-4 if they meet round 3.
Andy Murray did not look good on spring hard courts (2-2), but he was an incredible 17-1 on clay last year and he should open his clay court campaign this year with a win over a qualifier or Guido Pella. Murray is in a very weak section where the other seed, Benoit Paire, is just 1-4 in his last five matches. Paire opens with a struggling Inigo Cervantes, while Joao Sousa should extend Ivo Karlovic’s 0-4 start in 2016, to 0-5 to setup a second round meeting. Either Paire or Sousa could prevail, but Paire has been so poor this season, I have Sousa advancing. Murray should then demolish Sousa (or Paire) to reach the quarters without much stress.
Defending finalist Tomas Berdych is likely to run into fellow big hitter Milos Raonic in round 3. Berdych opens with a qualifier or Robin Haase after going 12-4 on clay last year, and most recently reaching the quarters in Miami. Raonic has been in great form this year with a 17-3 record. He’s a credible 15-7 on clay over the last two seasons, even though it’s far from his best surface. Raonic should dominate a struggling Marco Cecchinato before running into dirtballer Pablo Cuevas in round 2. Cuevas opens with a qualifier, and he’s 11-1 with two ATP titles on clay this season. Raonic vs. Cuevas has a chance to be the best match of round 2, and I give Raonic a slight edge if he can maintain his serve and survive, even though Cuevas is a great clay court player.
Raonic just beat Berdych at IW, and they have never properly met on clay. That should also be a tough battle, but I’m a firm believer in Raonic right now and have him advancing from a difficult section.
Stan Wawrinka is struggling right now. he went 13-4 on clay last year and was the 2014 MC champion but he’s lost two straight matches since winning Dubai. The Coric/Kohlschreiber winner has the skill set to test his game, and he could suffer a third straight early loss. I can’t predict that though and thus I have him running into Gilles Simon in the third round, after the Frenchman deals with Viktor Troicki, and Grigor Dimitrov (or a qualifier). Dimitrov was 9-5 on clay last year and reached the third round in Miami. Simon is 5-0 against Troicki and made the Miami quarterfinals. He was 7-4 on clay last year. Dimitrov beat Simon in Brisbane this year, but Simon won their only match on clay and leads the overall h2h 4-1, given Dimitrov’s inconsistency this year, I have the Frenchman advancing. Wawrinka is 2-0 on clay against Simon, and though either Simon or Dimitrov should give him trouble, I have the Swiss reaching the quarters on clay.
A blockbuster third round matchup should take place between the Rolex Masters legend Rafael Nadal, who won the title seven times between 2005-2012, and the young gun Dominic Thiem, who is at his best on clay and improving quickly. Thiem was 20-6 last year on clay with three clay court titles, and is 8-1 this year with an ATP title on the surface. The Austrian #1 will open with either a qualifier or Adrian Mannarino, who is poor on clay. Nadal was unwell in Miami and exited early, he’s just 12-6 on the season and didn’t win either of his clay court tournaments. His first match could be against Lukas Rosol, or Aljaz Bedene. Thiem stunned Nadal in Buenos Aires, capturing a third set tiebreak, and as good as MC has been for the Spaniard, I have him suffering another disappointing loss, and Thiem reaching the quarterfinals.
Dark Horse: Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, and Pablo Cuevas
Two young guns, and a veteran dirtballer could surprise in MC. Zverev’s path is blocked by Ferrer and Goffin, but if he finds form he could reach the quarters. Thiem could well make the final if he slips past Nadal, Wawrinka/Simon/Dimitrov, and one of Murray/Raonic/Berdych/Cuevas. This is a great chance for him to make his first Masters final. Cuevas has to beat Raonic and Berdych, but don’t count him out for a deep run.
Quarters Djokovic d. Goffin
Federer d. Gasquet
Thiem d. Wawrinka
Murray d. Raonic
Djokovic is 4-0 against Goffin and just beat him in Miami, Thiem has a h2h win over Wawrinka (1-1 on clay), Federer has won seven straight against Gasquet, though rust could be an issue, and Murray has won three straight against Raonic, including a clay court win. As poor as the Scot’s recent play has been, he should be a surprise semifinalist.
Semis Djokovic d. Federer
Thiem d. Murray
Nobody is stopping Djokovic, and I have Thiem as my surprise player, reaching his first Masters final this week.
Final Djokovic d. Thiem
Thiem should give it a good go if he reaches the final, but there is no one in this field except Novak Djokovic himself, that can stop Novak Djokovic. Rafa and Wawrinka are unlikely to even get the chance.
Novak Djokovic has won four consecutive ATP Masters 1000 level tournaments (Paris 2014, Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo 2015) and has a 17 match winning streak in those tournaments, as he claimed his second Monte Carlo title with a 7-5 4-6 6-3 win over Tomas Berdych. The title is the 23rd at the Masters level for Djokovic.
Novak got off to a hot start, and was up a set and 3-2, but the match was interrupted by rain, and Berdych was able to regain his footing and force a third set. Djokovic would win just 1 game after the rain delay in the second set, but he gathered himself in the third, and though he had some headaches closing the match out, he was up 4-0 at one point, and the result was never really in doubt, though he had to drag himself to the finish line. Djokovic improved to 19-2 in his career against Berdych, while Berdych dropped to 0-3 in ATP finals in 2015.
Djokovic didn’t drop a set before the final this week, he beat Albert Ramos, Andreas Haider-Maurer, Marin Cilic, and Rafael Nadal in the process of making the final. He threw up baked goods against Ramos, Haider-Maurer, and Cilic, and while Nadal showed flashes of his clay court genius at times in their semifinal match, he lacked the consistency that Novak has these days, and the depth and pace that Djokovic was pushing Nadal with was enough to get the job done with a couple of breaks. The result will continue the discussion about who is best on clay right now, and Djokovic is winning the argument, though Nadal is clearly number 2, as he vexed another solid clay court contender, David Ferrer, in 3 sets in the quarterfinals.
Berdych, who has been on fire against all but the elite players this year, and has clearly made strides with his game, though they have failed to translate in key moments, beat Sergiy Stakhovsky, Roberto Bautista Agut, Milos Raonic (ret.) and Gael Monfils without dropping a set this week. Monfils had a solid tournament in front of home fans, as he upset Roger Federer, and also beat Alex Dolgopolov and Grigor Dimitrov on the week. The talented but streaky Frenchman will be a player to watch out for the rest of the clay court season.
The Bryan brothers beat Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, who continue their remarkable chemistry in doubles, for the MC doubles title.
Round 2 Matches: Djokovic vs. Ramos, Tomic vs. Haider-Maurer, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Mayer vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Thiem, Troicki vs. Isner, Simon vs. Paire, Bolelli vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Carreno Busta, Kohlschreiber vs. Bautista Agut, Seppi vs Mannarino, Roger-Vasselin vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Monaco, Fognini vs. Dimitrov, Monfils vs. Dolgopolov, Schwartzman vs. Federer Round of 16 matches: Djokovic vs. Tomic, Goffin vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Troicki, Simon vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Kohlschreiber, Seppi vs. Raonic, Monaco vs. Dimitrov, Monfils vs. Federer
Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Goffin, Nadal vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Raonic, Monaco vs. Federer
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Nadal, Berdych vs. Federer
Final: Djokovic vs. Federer
Niall Clarke’s Picks
Round 2 Matches: Djokovic vs. Ramos, Tomic vs. Haider-Maurer, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Youzhny vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Pouille, Klizan vs. Isner, Simon vs. Paire, Bolelli vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Carreno Busta, Kukushkin vs. Bautista Agut, Seppi vs Granollers, Sousa vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Monaco, Janowicz vs. Verdasco, Monfils vs. Dolgopolov, Chardy vs. Federer Round of 16 matches: Djokovic vs. Tomic, Tsonga vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Isner, Simon vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Bautista Agut, Seppi vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Verdasco, Monfils vs. Federer
Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Nadal vs. Ferrer, Bautista Agut vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Federer
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Nadal, Bautista Agut vs. Wawrinka
Final: Djokovic vs. Wawrinka
Joe Cravens’ Picks
Round 2 Matches: Djokovic vs. Ramos, Rosol vs. Haider-Maurer, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Youzhny vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Thiem, Troicki vs. Isner, Simon vs. Paire, Bolelli vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Carreno Busta, Kohlschreiber vs. Bautista Agut, Robredo vs Mannarino, Sousa vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Monaco, Janowicz vs. Dimitrov, Monfils vs. Dolgopolov, Chardy vs. Federer Round of 16 matches: Djokovic vs. Rosol, Tsonga vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Troicki, Simon vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Kohlschreiber, Robredo vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Dimitrov, Dolgopolov vs. Federer
Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Nadal vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Robredo, Wawrinka vs. Federer
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Nadal, Berdych vs. Federer
Final: Djokovic vs. Federer
Chris de Waard’s Picks
Round 2 Matches: Djokovic vs. Ramos, Rosol vs. Haider-Maurer, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Youzhny vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Thiem, Troicki vs. Johnson, Simon vs. Paire, Bolelli vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Carreno Busta, Kohlschreiber vs. Bautista Agut, Robredo vs Mannarino, Sousa vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Monaco, Janowicz vs. Dimitrov, Monfils vs. Dolgopolov, Chardy vs. Federer Round of 16 matches: Djokovic vs. Haider-Maurer, Goffin vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Troicki, Simon vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Bautista Agut, Mannarino vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Fognini, Monfils vs. Federer
Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Goffin, Nadal vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Monfils
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Wawrinka
Final: Djokovic vs. Wawrinka
Jeff McMillan’s Picks
Round 2 Matches: Djokovic vs. Ramos, Tomic vs. Gulbis, Querrey vs. Goffin, Mayer vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Pouille, Troicki vs. Johnson, Simon vs. Paire, Estrella vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Carreno Busta, Kohlschreiber vs. Bautista Agut, Robredo vs Mannarino, Sousa vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Monaco, Fognini vs. Dimitrov, Monfils vs. Dolgopolov, Chardy vs. Federer Round of 16 matches: Djokovic vs. Tomic, Goffin vs. Cilic, Nadal vs. Troicki, Simon vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Kohlschreiber, Robredo vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Fognini, Monfils vs. Federer
Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Goffin, Nadal vs. Ferrer, Berdych vs. Raonic, Wawrinka vs. Monfils
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Nadal, Berdych vs. Federer
Final: Djokovic vs. Berdych
Once again Djokovic is the consensus pick, while opinions are mixed on Wawrinka, Federer, Ferrer and Nadal, in what is an interesting bracket.
Diego Schwartzman, Benoit Paire lead the list of qualifiers into the Monte-Carlo mainstage Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
This week the worlds best players on the ATP Tour will get their first test on the clay courts in the prestigious Monte-Carlo Masters. The tournament started back in 1897 when Reginald Doherty took the title in three straight sets. Since then the event has transformed into a multi million dollar event with a prize money value of €2,750,000. Over the weekend 28 players have battled against each other to grab a segment of the prize money as well as vital ranking points during the two qualifying rounds.
Heading the field was clay court specialist Diego Schwartzman. Last year the Argentine won four clay court Challenger titles within three months. So far in 2015 world number 62 has failed to progress past the second round of any tournament and will be desperate to pick up some more solid form as the clay court season begins. After dismissing world number 606 Romain Arneodo from Monaco in the first round, he also produced a final round 6-4, 6-4, win against Albert Montanes. After taking the first set, Schwartzman was forced to recover from a break twice in the second set before booking his place into the main draw.
Elias Ymer’s hopes of playing in his first Masters main draw were halted today following a straight sets loss to American Denis Kudla. In the first round Ymer trailed 4-6, 2-3, to second seed Carlos Berlocq before he retired due to an adductor injury while Kudla came from a set down to beat Andrey Golubev. After a close first set, Kudla cruised to a 6-4, 6-0 victory to play in his first ever clay court Masters main draw.
Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos qualified after Denis Istomin retired after only seven games. Gombos knocked out 9th seed Malek Jaziri in the first round. It is unclear in regards to the reason why Istomin retired, however the Uzbek has had some luck on his side as he received a lucky loser spot into the main draw due to Nicolas Almagro pulling out.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas continued his recent consistent form on the tour with a 6-4, 7-5, victory over Robin Haase in a match which lasted nearly two hours. In the first set Haase have 9 separate chances to breaks Romas-Vinolas but failed to do so every time in a match filled of misses opportunities for the Dutchman.
Andrey Kuznetsov overcame a close first set to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6(4), 6-1. The 24-year-old has only played four Masters main draw matches in his career in which he has only won one of them (Rome 2013). The Russian is currently ranked 91st in the world with his best performance being a quarterfinal appearance at the ATP Happy Valley Challenger in Australia at the start of the year.
In the longest match of the day, French sixth seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin required almost three hours to beat Jan-Lennard Struff. Roger-Vasselin had two opportunities to take the final set 6-4, before the German clawed his way back to force the match into a deciding tie-break. In the tie-break nerves played a key part with seven breaks of serves before Struff edged his way to take the tie-break 8-6. The final score in the Frenchman’s favor was 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6).
Completing the list of qualifiers is Benoit Paire after he stormed to a 6-1, 6-2, win against Thiemo De Bakker. Despite being ranked 84th in the world Paire has competed in a variety of tournaments which includes Futures, Challenger and ATP Pro events. So far this year he has one Futures and two Challenger titles to his name. Paire was formerly considered a top young gun, and is seeking to climb his way back into the conversation.
Who’s next for the qualifiers:
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Q) – Denis Istomin (LL)
Norbert Gombos (Q) – David Goffin
Benoit Paire (Q) – Denis Kudla (Q)
Kudla had beaten Paire once before at the 2013 Aegon Championships at the Queen’s club in London.
Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Q) – Joao Sousa
Andrey Kuznetsov (Q) – Gael Monfils
Monfils beat Kuznetsov in straight sets earlier this year in the second round of the Marseille Open
Jeremy Chardy – Diego Schwartzman (Q)
2015 ATP Monte Carlo Preview, Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The spring European clay court season begins in earnest with the third masters event of the season, the Monte-Carlo Masters in the wealthy seaside playground of Monte-Carlo, Monaco. It’s not a mandatory masters, but all the same most of the top players are participating.
2015 ATP Monte Carlo Preview
Monte Carlo Rolex Masters ATP World Tour Masters 1000
April 12-April 19, 2014
Prize Money: €3,288,530
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Roger Federer (2)
3: Rafael Nadal (5)
4: Milos Raonic (6)
5: David Ferrer (7)
6: Tomas Berdych (8)
7: Stan Wawrinka (9)
8: Marin Cilic (10)
15 of the top 20 are in the MC field, with notable exceptions Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Feliciano Lopez.
AHM and Gulbis have a split h2h record, but shockingly AHM beat Gulbis on hard court, which is not his surface, and Gulbis has the win on clay, both matches being competitive. Gulbis is higher ranked and the seed here, but this is not as much of a mismatch as it seems on paper. AHM has had a relatively good season on clay, as he comes off a quarterfinal showing in Casablanca and also reached the semis in Rio. Gulbis has only won 1 match this year, hasn’t played on clay, and though he posted a remarkable 17-5 record on the surface last year, he’s not playing anywhere near that level at the moment, with his game entirely lacking confidence and belief at the moment. In theory a return to clay could help Gulbis post resurgent results, but I’m picking Haider-Maurer to continue Ernests misery this season and advance into round 2.
Dominic Thiem vs. (WC)Lucas Pouille
Thiem is the favorite and should win this, but both players are 21 year old young guns with great promise and it’s an intriguing matchup. Thiem started the season off slow but still has two quarterfinals, including one in Miami, and he went 16-7 in clay court tournaments last year (12-7 at the ATP level) after going 46-12 on clay in 2013 at all levels. Pouille went 23-14 on clay last year, primarily at the challenger level and has an ATP semi (Auckland) and a challenger semi from last week on his 2015 resume. He’s an intriguing talent who can hit a wide variety of shots, especially on his forehand side, and he gave Gael Monfils quite the match in Australia. Thiem likely wins in straights, but enjoy it if it goes three sets, presently he’s the more well rounded and accomplished player, and his form in Miami bodes well for his clay court season.
Viktor Troicki vs. Martin Klizan
ATP Casablanca champion Martin Klizan will take on Troicki, a player four years his senior but similar in ranking and ability. Troicki beat Klizan in Sydney this year (2-2 h2h) and they have never met on clay. Troicki went just 1-2 on the hard court masters swing in the US but he has two quarterfinals and an ATP title (Sydney) on his record this year. Klizan just posted his best tournament of the season with the title in Monte Carlo. Last year Klizan went 23-6 on clay while Troicki went 25-4, though that was almost exclusively at the challenger level. Both are accomplished and talented, and given fatigue factor, I give Troicki a slight edge to advance.
These two ATP level American men have played twice before, with a split 1-1 h2h. This will be their first meeting on clay. Johnson comes off a loss to Sam Querrey in the second round of Houston and has slowed down a bit after a strong start to his season that featured three ATP quarterfinals and a third round showing at the AO. Isner by contrast caught fire after a terrible start to his season and went 6-2 between Indian Wells and Miami, only losing to Novak Djokovic twice. He suffered a shocking hangover loss to Teymuraz Gabashvili in Houston, but still he’s been able to maintain a positive clay court record over the past two years (8-5 in 2013 6-5 in 2014). Johnson comparably is still learning the surface, and thus Isner is the favorite but I could see this match going either way.
(16)Tommy Robredo vs. Andreas Seppi
Robredo is the higher ranked seed but he has not had a particularly strong season and he comes off two match losing streak coming into Monte Carlo, after previously going just 2-3 on the clay court golden swing. That said he’s still an accomplished veteran with great acumens on clay. Seppi has slowed down after a hot start to his season where he reached the final in Zagreb and also the round of 16 at the AO with a win over Federer. He’s just 3-4 since Zagreb and hasn’t had a positive tournament record on clay since 2012. h2h wise though Seppi is 2-1 on clay with a long h2h history (Robredo has won the last three meetings, one on clay, and two on hard courts both of which were last season). Given Robredo’s relative dearth of form this season, I’m going with Seppi in an upset.
(9)Grigor Dimitrov vs. Fernando Verdasco
Dimitrov is higher ranked but he’s struggled all season long, while Verdasco has been hot as of late. The Spanish veteran lefty reached the semis in Houston and is 6-3 over his last three tournaments with a win over Nadal in Miami. The h2h is 1-1 with Verdasco havng the clay court win, and both of their prior matches went 3 sets. Verdasco went 13-7 in 2014 on clay and 14-9 in 2013, while Dimitrov went 12-4 and 11-6, as this is a hard matchup to parse.That said, with the jetlag factor from Houston, I give Dimitrov the slightest of edges to advance and find some form on the red dirt after a poor winter/spring hard court season.
Borna Coric vs. Alex Dolgopolov
The 18 year old Coric is a dangerous talent and is likely to do damage on clay this year, that said he did not get the best of draw luck when he drew the in-form Dolgopolov in the opening round. Coric went 8-8 on clay in 2014 after going 14-4 in 2013 while Dolgopolov went 9-9 and 4-8 over the past two seasons on the surface, as fast surfaces likely favor his aggressive approach to tennis. That said Dolgo is 9-4 in his last four tournaments with three of those losses coming at the hands of top 10 players Nishikori, Raonic and Djokovic. He has two ATP quarterfinals in that span and a round of 16 in Miami, where he nearly beat Djokovic. Given his gilbert’s syndrome, Dolgopolov is always unpredictable, but I give him a slight edge to advance over Coric in this must see matchup that will feature big hitting.
Novak Djokovic, one of two Monte Carlo champions not named Rafael Nadal since 2005, and the world number 1 will start off against Denis Istomin or Albert Ramos. Ramos is a qualifier, and should be favored to beat the lucky loser Istomin. He suffered a shock loss in Casablanca round 1 but qualified with relative ease in MC, and he also gave Djokovic a good match on hard court in Indian Wells. Clay is his better surface, but still its Novak Djokovic, so at minimum Novak should get a decent test before the later rounds but a miracle can’t be expected from Ramos. Similarly I expect Djokovic to roll past either the Gulbis/AHM winner or Bernard Tomic. Tomic got past Lukas Rosol in 3 sets in one of the three Sunday main draw matches. He’s had a great season but he’s not a clay courter by any means, so should he beat AHM/Gulbis (AHM actually has a good chance at the third round) I still don’t expect him to get a set off of Novak.
Marin Cilic will open with Florian Mayer, as both of these players are on the comeback from injury path. Mayer had been out for 13 months, while Cilic was out for about 4, and did not play well in his comeback match against Juan Monaco in Indian Wells. Funky Flo just beat Mikhail Youzhny, who is in a terrible slump, on Sunday and the 31 year old is an accomplished clay court player who went 18-10 on clay in 2013, after missing the 2014 clay court season. That said Cilic went 11-6 on the surface last year, and he’s a more talented player all-around, so he should advance and find his form on the dirt.
However, the winner of this section is less likely to be Cilic, compared to the action at the top of it, with 11 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a one time semifinalist in MC, and David Goffin. Goffin went a remarkable 28-5 on clay last year (mostly at the challenger level) while Tsonga went 10-5, and just played his comeback tournament in Miami where he won a round and lost to Gael Monfils. Presuming Tsonga beats current Houston finalist Sam Querrey, and Goffin beats qualifier Norbert Gombos, it will setup a marquee second round matchup. Their h2h is 2-1 in favor of Tsonga but they have never met on clay, Goffin is 3-1 in his last four matches after a slow start to his year and with Tsonga still working into things, I’m going with Goffin in an upset, as I have him beating Tsonga, and then Cilic to reach the quarterfinals. Goffin and Cilic have never met.
Rafael Nadal will open with the Thiem/Pouille winner, the 8 time MC champion hasn’t won the title since 2012, and he’s not near the player he once was as of late. No matter, he has only lost on clay since 2013 to Nicolas Almagro, David Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, Fabio Fognini (this year in Rio), and randomly, Horacio Zeballos. Though he isn’t the player he was, he’s still the king of clay, and he destroyed Thiem at the French Open last year, conceding just 7 games over three sets. Thiem is almost certain to outdo that performance, and I don’t write him off entirely, but Nadal still should be able to get the opening round win, if he doesn’t, the decline is real and worsening. After Thiem/Pouille, Nadal is likely to face Troicki/Klizan. though Isner/Johnson are also in this section. Klizan beat Nadal last year on a hard court, so this section of the draw contains danger for Nadal, but Troicki is most likely to be his opponent, and Nadal is 4-0 against him (though they haven’t met since 2010 and all the matches were on hard courts). As an aside Troicki is 3-1 against Isner and has a clay court h2h win, which is part of the reason why he should advance. Look for Nadal to beat Thiem and Troicki to reach the quarters.
David Ferrer, a one time finalist in Monte-Carlo, who has had a great season with three ATP titles, including one on clay in Rio, will open with the veteran Victor Estrella, who beat Simone Bolelli in an upset on Sunday. Ferrer should have little trouble defeating him, and also 10 seed Gilles Simon to setup a matchup with Nadal that should prove to be quite interesting. Look for Simon, a former semifinalist, to demolish wild card Benjamin Ballaret, and then get past a qualifier, either Denis Kudla or Benoit Paire. Paire, who qualified with ease, has been improving his results and working his way back up the rankings from the challenger tour, after previously losing focus and seeing his career go to ruins, but Simon is still a step up in level. Paire is actually 3-1 against Simon and will certainly have his chance, but they have never met on clay. Simon is 5-3 in his last 8 matches, and lost to Ferrer in routine fashion in Miami.
Roger Federer will open with Jeremy Chardy/Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in the opening round. Chardy comes off a quarterfinal showing on clay in Houston, while DSS qualified comfortably after a shock loss in Casablanca in the opening round. I favor the young Argentine to upset Chardy, but Federer should demolish him, like he did in Indian Wells a month ago. The four-time finalist and world number 2 should be in for a test against 14 seed Gael Monfils in the third round, presuming Monfils beats qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov and the Coric/Dolgopolov winner. Monfils against either Coric or Dolgopolov, is a must-watch match, and he’s 2-0 against Dolgopolov with both matches coming on hard court. He’s never played well in MC (4-8 career record), but he’s still in a good form and has yet to suffer an opening round loss this season, with 1 quarterfinal, a semifinal, a final and a round of 16 in Miami on his record. Monfils upset Federer in Davis Cup play last winter but Federer is 4-1 against him on clay in his career, and thus should have the advantage in what is an exciting matchup.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka looms in the section above Federer, Wawrinka is in atrocious form at the moment with losses to non-top 20 players Robin Haase, Sergiy Stakhovsky, and Adrian Mannarino on his record in his past three tournaments. He hasn’t played a straight set match since Marseille, and was the walking dead in the spring hard court Masters tournaments.Thus, though he is 30-10 over the past two seasons on clay, and he’s the defending champion, I have him losing to Juan Monaco in a second round upset. Monaco, who is in great form, and has had a career resurgence as of late, after being left for dead rankings wise, opens with Jiri Vesely, who broke a losing streak and reached the semifinals in Casablanca. That match will be a good warm up for Wawrinka, and though he is 0-3 (0-2) on clay against the Swiss, he’s a tremendous 10-3 over his last three tournaments with a quarterfinal in Miami, a final in Buenos Aires on clay, and also before that a quarterfinal in Rio on clay. It’s one of the bolder upsets I’ve picked in a while, but Wawrinka doesn’t appear to be fixing what is wrong with his game at the moment and Monaco is an in-form player and a clean ball striker who is in the right place at the right time and should frustrate Wawrinka.
The Wawrinka/Monaco winner is due to face either Dimitrov/Verdasco or Fabio Fognini/Jerzy Janowicz in round 3. This is a stacked and interesting section, as either Dimitrov over Verdasco could make a run, as could Monaco of course. Fognini is only competent on clay these days, as the headcase hasn’t won a match on hard courts this year, but did reach the final in Rio on clay and beat Nadal. Nobody knows how he will play, and likewise Janowicz is an emotional player, who was very much struggling but did win a couple of rounds in Miami. Clay doesn’t suit his power game as well though, so Fognini should win but I have him losing to Dimitrov in the next round (and I feel Verdasco would beat him as well). Dimi and Fogna have a 1-1 h2h. Monaco and Dimitrov have a 3-1 h2h in favor of Monaco, though Dimitrov won their last meeting on clay in 2013. It’s a difficult match to pick, but again I’m going with form and picking Monaco as a quarterfinalist.
4 seed Milos Raonic, who is better on clay than he gets credit for (11-5 last year and 18-10 over the past two seasons), will face Joao Sousa or qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the second round. ERV is in great form after qualifying, as he’s 8-2 in his last 10 matches, while Sousa has lost three straight. The Portugese number one, being European, is perceived to be better on clay than he actually is (just 7-13 in 2014 on the surface), and I have ERV winning in an upset. Raonic is 2-1 against ERV and beat him on clay so thus Milos should be safe to reach the third round. After that it will be Seppi/Robredo or Adrian Mannarino/Marcel Granollers. Presuming my prediction holds, Seppi should beat Robredo, and then have an easier time against Mannarino/Granollers. Mannarino is in great form and has an ATP final, a semi, and two round of 16s in the srping hard court Masters on his resume with wins over Wawrinka, Gulbis, Fognini and Bautista-Agut this season, while Granollers is slumping and retired in his last match in Casablanca, however Granollers is far and above better on clay, and he may have enough of a surface edge to prevail. Raonic has a lone hard court h2h win over Seppi, and all the same, even though it could be close, look for the Canadian to prevail and reach the quarters, he’s proven to be able to avoid losses against all but the top players with how reliable his serve+forehand power game is, even on clay.
8 seed Tomas Berdych will open with Sergiy Stakhovsky/Pablo Carreno Busta, both players are struggling and PCB has just 1 win since the AO, though he’s a clay courter, while Stako, who prefers fast surfaces is 2-3 in his last five and went just 3-6 on clay last year. I see PCB breaking his losing streak to win that match but Berdych should crush him. Both Benjamin Becker and Roberto Bautista Agut are struggling as well, RBA has lost three straight including a loss in Houston, but still he went 13-6 on clay last year, and Becker is a fast surface player so he should win that match. Philipp Kohlschreiber has had an awful season and has yet to string together consecutive match wins, but he is still the favorite to reach the third round. His opening round opponent Mikhail Kukushkin went just 5-10 on clay last year and retired in his last match in Casablanca (though he upset Albert Ramos in the previous round), and he has a 1-0 h2h with the similarly struggling RBA. He’s an accomplished clay courter who compiled a 29-17 record on the surface over the past two seasons, still Berdych should dispatch him to reach the quarters (8-1 h2h on top of everything else). Berdych went 11-6 last year and 9-6 in 2013 on clay. The Czech has had a great season with two ATP finals (Doha and Rotterdam), the AO semis, quarters in Miami, and two semis in Dubai and Indian Wells.
Dark Horses: David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Andreas Seppi, Juan Monaco
As mentioned if Goffin beats Tsonga he becomes a small favorite to reach the quarters over Cilic or perhaps Mayer, Djokovic should prove too much for him that but that would still be a great result. Thiem would have to stun Nadal, but I don’t count him out, and I figure he has as good of a chance as Benoit Paire does of beating Simon and Ferrer consecutively, should Thiem upset Nadal he very well could, and likely should reach his second straight Masters quarterfinal.
Seppi has to upset Robredo to get the wheels in motion, but if he does, he should reach the round of 16, and you never now with Raonic if the Italian can hang in there with his serve. Monaco has to get past Wawrinka, but I think he does that, and then also upsets the 9 seed Dimitrov to setup a match with Federer in the quarters.
Djokovic d. Goffin
Nadal d. Ferrer
Berdych d. Raonic
Federer d. Monaco
Djokovic beat Goffin in straights at the French in 2013, Ferrer upset Nadal at this same stage in Monte Carlo last year, and he very well could do so again, I want to pick that upset but I can’t bring myself to do so given Nadal has won all of their numerous other clay court meetings, given this is perhaps his best tournament, one has to think Nadal will find a way no matter the circumstance.
Berdych is better than Raonic on clay even with the 1-3 h2h (all hard court meetings), given his consistent play this season he has to be the favorite to reach another semi, and Federer should deal with Monaco (or Wawrinka/Dimitrov/Verdasco) without too much trouble.
Semis Djokovic d. Nadal
Federer d. Berdych
Nadal may be the king of clay, but he’s not the same player he was and the last four clay court matches between Djokovic and Nadal are a 2-2 split, including the 2013 final where Djokovic beat Nadal. Novak is the undisputed best player in the world right now, while Rafa has slipped from the top three and even with this being Monte Carlo, I don’t see it being an unreasonable pick to take Djokovic over Nadal at this stage in their careers, given the 2 out of 3 set format, Djokovic should be able to conjure a victory.
Federer-Berdych is another interesting matchup, and Federer is 3-0 in the clay court h2h. Berdych’s power can bother the maestro at times, but on clay, the advantage swings to the Swiss and thus he should prevail.
Final: Djokovic d. Federer
Once again Federer should fall short in the Monte Carlo final, what would be a fifth time. Djokovic just beat him in IW, and though Federer beat him in the MC semis last year, Djokovic won the previous two meetings before that on clay and their clay court h2h is just 4-3 in favor of Federer since 2006. Unless their are verifiable reasons to believe otherwise, going against the world number 1 to win a title seems like a mistake right now.
Wawrinka Breaks Up Big Four Dominance Of Masters 1000 Events, Wins Monte Carlo Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Stan Wawrinka is the first Masters 1000 tournament champion not named Nadal, Djokovic, Federer or Murray since the 2012 Paris Masters won by Ferrer. He did so by beating his “big brother”, Roger Federer 4-6 7-6 6-2 in just his second career win against the most famous Swiss tennis player of all time, both wins oddly enough having come in Monte Carlo.
Federer was strong early but Wawrinka was able to turn things around, and after winning the second set tiebreak in close fashion, he pulled away from a seemingly-exhausted Federer. He now has a Grand Slam and a Masters title this season, both the first of his career as he continues to cement himself as a top 5 player who can challenge the best in the game.
Wawrinka blitzed Marin Cilic, got a walkover against Nicolas Almagro, routined Milos Raonic and also David Ferrer this week as he didn’t drop a set until the final and looked much better compared to his near debacle in the Davis Cup tie for the Swiss.
Federer reached his second Masters final of the season in 3 tournaments as he defeated Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol in straights, then survived in 3 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and won 7-5 6-2 over an out-of-sorts Novak Djokovic. That match was an upset, but Novak clearly wasn’t 100% and was being bothered by some sort of injury.
Djokovic’s Masters win streak was broken at 28 wins in a row with the loss.
One thing is for sure, it’s a great time to be a Swiss tennis fan.
The Bryans beat Ivan Dodig/Marcel Melo to win the doubles title and continue their dominance.