5 Things We Learned At The 2017 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters
We look into storylines that emerged during the season’s first clay-court Masters 1000 event
Nadal Appears Ready To Reclaim Clay ThroneAfter a disappointing clay-court season last year by his lofty standards, Rafael Nadal has returned with a vengeance to his favorite surface. The Spaniard was ruthless in dropping 18 games total in his last four matches to take the title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. He became the first man in the Open Era to win a singles tournament on 10 occasions and also picked up his 50th clay-court title.
The dominant scorelines in almost all of his matches is perhaps the most impressive part of Nadal’s run this week. If he can continue to keep his on-court time relatively short and conserve his energy, the Spaniard will be the overwhelming favourite for next month’s ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome.
Murray, Djokovic Still Have Work To DoAndy Murray and Novak Djokovic both made welcome returns from right elbow injuries, but admitted they haven’t reached top form yet. Both men were pushed to the limit in all of their matches before Murray lost to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the third-round and Djokovic bowed out to David Goffin in the quarter-finals.
Murray is opting for more match play this week at the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell, while Djokovic has decided to focus on training before returning in Madrid. With both players defending piles of Emirates ATP Rankings Points over the next two months, it will be imperative for them to quickly round into form.
Clay-Court Veterans Enjoying Fine FormAlbert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Cuevas have long produced impressive tennis on clay, but they raised the stakes this week by scoring wins over the world’s best players. Ramos-Vinolas took out Murray and Marin Cilic en route to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, while Cuevas halted Stan Wawrinka on the way to a quarter-final finish and took the doubles title with Rohan Bopanna.
Both Ramos-Vinolas and Cuevas are known for being among the hardest workers and they’ve been rewarded after more than a decade on the ATP World Tour. If they can continue their current level, expect them to make even more noise during the clay-court season.
Goffin Emerging As London ContenderThe low-key Belgian proved last year that he can score big results at Masters 1000 events after recording semi-final showings in Indian Wells and Miami, but his semi-final run in Monte-Carlo is perhaps his most impressive. Scoring back-to-back wins over Dominic Thiem and Djokovic with impressive court coverage and creativity in his shotmaking, no less an authority than Nadal declared that Goffin could one day reach the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Firmly cementing himself inside the Top 8 for the Emirates ATP Race to London, Goffin is a likely candidate to qualify for the ATP Finals for the first time if he can remain healthy and focused for the rest of the year.
Bopanna/Cuevas Are New Team To WatchBopanna and Cuevas started 2017 with a 1-4 record, but came alive by winning the doubles title in Monte-Carlo, marking their first ATP World Tour team title. Four of their five victories came in a Match Tie-break, showing their ability to consistently come through in key moments. The veteran duo appears to have shaken off any glitches in the combination and should continue to see themselves in the mix for major titles.
Cuevas even produced a stunning hot shot in the final worth a second view. Watch Hot Shot