Monte-Carlo is one of those frustrating tournaments that begins on a Sunday with main draw action beginning before qualifiers have even been placed. Therefore, I have missed my chance for a full blown preview. I did make up some rapid predictions after I saw the draw which I have discussed below, but I’ll be focusing day by day. Monte-Carlo is one my favourite ATP events and it is home to one of the most spectacular centre courts. There should be some excellent match-ups in this draw, which was boosted by the late wild card awarded to Roger Federer.
Update: The second match preview is now void as Fernando Verdasco has withdrawn and has been replaced by Marinko Matosevic, who will take on Marin Cilic later today.
1. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Philipp Kohlschreiber (ATP MC, R2)
At the beginning of the year, I tipped Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to crack the top five. I’m somewhat embarrassed to raise this point now, but things have just not clicked for Tsonga so far this year. Like Murray, Tsonga has struggled in his comeback from the sidelines, a knee injury that ended his Wimbledon campaign. Many have been quick to criticise the Frenchman, ignoring that this was a reasonably serious injury. When he returrned in the fall season, he was nowhere near 100%. However I would have expected him to have started to produce better results by this stage of the season. After a draw reshuffle in Monte-Carlo, Tsonga was bumped up to number nine seed earning him a bye, which hasn’t really helped him out a great deal as he has to contend with Philipp Kohlschreiber, a potent threat in any draw. The German world number 25 overcame Simone Bolelli in the first round, 6-3 6-4. Tsonga leads the head-to-head by 6 wins to 1 although Philipp’s only win over Jo-Willy came on clay. Despite making the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year, clay is not a favoured surface for Tsonga and this will be a really testing match considering his recent form.
2. Marin Cilic v Fernando Verdasco (ATP MC, R1)
There are a mix of first and second round matches in Monte-Carlo on Tuesday and the pick of the first rounders will see Houston champion, Fernando Verdasco take on Marin Cilic. Verdasco hadn’t reached a quarter-final all year before last week; however he dropped just one set in Houston as he manoeuvred his way to a 6th ATP singles title with victory over fellow compatriot, Nicolas Almagro in the final. Cilic is making his move up the rankings. After reaching three consecutive finals in Zagreb, Rotterdam and Delray Beach (and winning two of those titles), Cilic was a little disappointing through the Indian Wells-Miami double. He looked like causing a huge upset of Novak Djokovic in IW after winning the first set of their fourth round clash, 6-1, but was comprehensively pegged back and lost in three sets. This will be Cilic’s first venture onto the clay since 2013. Cilic and Verdasco have evenly split their eight career matches so this should be another close match. I predict that Cilic will start slowly, but finish strongly against a tiring Verdasco.
Along with my quarter-final predictions stated below, I also fancied Dominic Thiem and Pablo Andujar to make the third round. Thiem has already been knocked out by Nicolas Mahut, but Andujar secured a good win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin in what was an entertaining first round match.
QFs: Nadal v Dimitrov, Wawrinka v Robredo, Fognini v Federer and Berdych v Djokovic
SFs: Nadal v Robredo, Federer v Djokovic
Final: Djokovic d. Nadal