Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch In Monte-Carlo
The Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the third ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the season, is set to begin at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where 14 of the Top 20 players in the ATP Rankings are competing. Leading the way is 11-time champion Rafael Nadal and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who have won 13 of the past 14 titles in the Principality. Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka (2014) is the other past winner in the field.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN MONTE-CARLO
1) Nadal Returns: World No. 2 Rafael Nadal is playing his first tournament since pulling out of his Indian Wells semi-final with a knee injury on 16 March. Nadal owns a 68-4 record at the tournament. The Spaniard captured eight titles in a row from 2005-12, and he’s earned the trophy the past three years, winning 15 consecutive matches since his semi-final loss to Djokovic in 2015.
2) History In The Making: Last year in Monte-Carlo Nadal became the first player to win a tour-level tournament 11 times. After accomplishing the feat in Monaco, Nadal did the same in Barcelona and Roland Garros. Nadal has won an Open Era record 57 clay-court titles and he has the best career winning percentage on clay (92.0%, 415-36).
3) Novak The Top Seed: Djokovic, who came into last year’s tournament ranked No. 13, is playing in Monte-Carlo for the 13th time in 14 years (except 2011). He has a 32-10 record in the Principality, where he resides, capturing titles in 2013 and 2015 and reaching the final in 2009 and 2012. This is the fifth time (2012-13, 2015-16) he comes in ranked No. 1.
4) Zverev Eyes Jumpstart: Third seed Alexander Zverev advanced to the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo last year. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion is 11-5 this season with a runner-up finish in Acapulco. Last year he won two of his four titles on clay; in Munich and at the Mutua Madrid Open, a Masters 1000 tournament.
5) Thiem Title Time: Fourth seed Dominic Thiem won the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open last month (d. Federer). The 25-year-old Austrian won two clay titles last season and reached the Roland Garros final. Eight of Thiem’s 12 career titles have come on clay. He reached the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo last year, falling short against Nadal.
6) Stefanos Shining: One year ago, #NextGenATP Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas had to go through qualifying on his Monte-Carlo debut, defeating Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the main draw before ultimately falling to 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin. This time, Tsitsipas arrives as the sixth seed. In 2019, he has reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open, triumphed in Marseille and advanced to the championship match in Dubai (l. to Federer).
7) Canadian Breakthroughs: #NextGenATP Canadian stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov are coming off semi-final efforts at the Miami Open presented by Itau. Both players jumped to career-high ATP Rankings with the 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime at No. 33 and Shapovalov, who turns 20 on Monday, at No. 20.
8) Another Run For Kei?: Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori reached the final in Monte-Carlo last year as the No. 36 player in the ATP Rankings, in his first appearance at the event since 2012. That proved a springboard performance for Nishikori, as he’d return to top form and qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
10) Singles Stars Take Doubles Court: Nine players who have cracked the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings are competing in the Monte-Carlo doubles draw, including World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is set to play at the Masters 1000 tournament with brother Marko Djokovic for the first time (five previous appearances). Other notable pairs include Grigor Dimitrov/Stan Wawrinka, Jurgen Melzer/Dominic Thiem and Felix Auger-Aliassime/Denis Shapovalov. The top seeds are Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who triumphed at this year’s Australian Open.