There is just one tennis tournament this week, but it happens to be one of the best stops of the year for the men with the third Masters 1000 event and the first on clay in Monte-Carlo. Lets take a look at the draw where the top eight seeds all receive byes into the second round…
Novak Djokovic‘s participation in Monte-Carlo still remains somewhat in the balance because of the ankle injury he picked up in Davis Cup action last weekend. He currently remains in the draw and he will play Mikhail Youzhny or Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the second round. Juan Monaco is projected to be Djokovic’s first seed; however the Argentine, who won his first matches on tour in 2013 this week in Houston, could face the winner of a cracking first round match between Ernests Gulbis and John Isner. Both Monaco and Isner have gone deep in Houston so I would fancy the wild and unpredictable Gulbis to make at least round three here.
Djokovic is on course for yet another showdown with Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals. The tall Argentine will be up first against either Alexandr Dolgopolov or Bernard Tomic; the pair played a dazzling 3rd rounder at the Aussie Open in 2012, full of slices and tricks. They actually met in the first round of Monte-Carlo last year where Dolgopolov won in three sets. Milos Raonic is also in this section and opens up against Julien Benneteau, who suffered a nasty ankle injury here last year. The winner of that match faces the winner of a first rounder between Jarkko Nieminen and Viktor Troicki… i’m backing Nieminen to round three.
1st Round Predictions – Gulbis to beat Isner in 3 sets, Monaco to beat Klizan in 2 tight sets, Raonic to beat Benneteau in 3 sets, Nieminen to beat Troicki in 2 sets and Tomic to beat Dolgopolov in 2 tight sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction – Djokovic v del Potro
QUARTER 2 – T.Berdych (4) v R.Gasquet (7)
The weakest quarter features Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet, who have already met twice in 2013. Berdych should face few problems in his section where Andreas Seppi is the highest seeded opponent before the quarter-finals. Gasquet opens up against either Ivan Dodig or Benoit Paire, who face off in what promises to be a flashy first rounder. Marin Cilic could await Gasquet in round three although the Croatian will have to navigate past Rafael Nadal‘s Vina del Mar conqueror, Horacio Zeballos in round one and then the winner of a big hitting, hard-to-call opener between Jerzy Janowicz and the in-form, Kevin Anderson in round two.
1st Round Predictions – Seppi to beat Fognini in 3 sets, Cilic to beat Zeballos in 2 tight sets, Anderson to beat Janowicz in 2 very tight sets and Dodig to beat Paire in 3 lopsided sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction – Berdych v Gasquet
QUARTER 3 – J.Tipsarevic (8) v R.Nadal (3)
Janko Tipsarevic managed to restore some pride in Miami where he picked up his first wins since Melbourne before falling in the 4th round to Gilles Simon. His first match in Monte-Carlo will be against Xavier Malisse or Grigor Dimitrov, both dangerous on their day. He could meet Simon once again in the third round, who has a very neat draw and that’s a good thing for the Frenchman, who is defending semi-final points from last year.
Rafael Nadal has already played three clay tournaments this year, winning two in Sao Paulo and Acapulco, but the big story of his comeback was his tremendous victory in Miami. He is back at home on the clay in Monte-Carlo where he has won eight successive titles, an ATP tour record. His first match will be against either Marinko Matosevic or Fernando Verdasco; on clay you would normally back Verdasco, but in his current form, I think he could lose to anyone on any surface. Phillipp Kohlschreiber is Nadal’s projected third round opponent. The German player’s form has really slipped this year and Thomasz Bellucci, who is irratic as they come, but always a real threat on the clay.
1st Round Predictions – Dimitrov to beat Malisse in 3 sets, Simon to beat Bautista-Agut in 2 sets, Bellucci to beat Kohlschreiber in 3 sets and Matosevic to beat Verdasco in 2 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction – Simon v Nadal
QUARTER 4 – J.W.Tsonga (5) v A.Murray (2)
Andy Murray is making his first ventures on the clay in 2013 and it is a so-so draw for the Brit. He will play Robin Haase or a qualifier in the first round and then potentially, Stanislas Wawrinka in the 3rd round. The Swiss number two has always troubled Murray and has never lost on clay to the Brit. I nearly went for Wawrinka over Murray in round three but seeing him lose to Tommy Robredo in the Casablanca semi-finals made me change my mind. Wawrinka also has a few sticky obstacles with Denis Istomin (in round one) and possibly Gael Monfils (in round two).
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has always struggled on the clay, but was a point away from beating Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros in the quarter-finals last year. His first match will be against Nikolay Davydenko or a qualifier. Nicolas Almagro is a projected third round opponent; I really like Almagro on this surface, but he has gone deep in Houston and has never beaten Tsonga on six previous occasions.
1st Round Predictions – Almagro to beat Goffin in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy) and Wawrinka to beat Istomin in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction – Tsonga v Murray
|Final Prediction – Nadal d. del Potro|
I have gone with a pretty predictable draw through to the quarters and the winner for me is never in doubt. I think del Potro will knock out Djokovic in the quarter-finals, who I am not 100% convinced with fitness wise. Gasquet beat Berdych on the slow hard courts of Miami and I think he will do it again on the clay to make the semi-finals here. I won’t be surprised to see Murray fall early, but I do have him to make the semi-finals where I see a mouthwatering semi-final against Nadal on the cards…
You can view my full predictions for Monte-Carlo HERE. I shall be following the tournament all week with in-depth predictions from the second round so please keep checking Moo’s Tennis Blog!