A fantastic slate of third round matches in Monte-Carlo for Thursday requires the full SWEEP of matches in today’s preview. The action on Thursday features the world’s top six players with Nadal, Djokovic and Federer highlighting Court Central. In other news, BBC Sport continues to wind me up with their poor coverage of tennis. They posted an article based on speculation that Roger Federer “could” miss Roland Garros because of the birth of his third child ahead of writing anything about results from Monte-Carlo on Wednesday. On a less moany note, this week’s No Challenges Remaining podcast by Courtney Nguyen and Ben Rothenberg is a real winner. For fans of Andrea Petkovic, it’s a must listen!
Poll Results: Kudos to the majority (67%) who went for Wawrinka to beat Cilic in Wednesday’s second round match.
1. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Fabio Fognini
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame a significant test from Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round, coming through 6-4 1-6 6-4. He now faces another heavy challenge in the form of Fabio Fognini. The Italian has not been playing particularly well this week, but has some displayed some rare grit having been two points from defeat in his first round match against Joao Sousa. Fognini had a number of wobbles in his second round match too with Roberto Bautista-Agut, but eventually came through in straight sets, 7-6(6) 6-4.
Fognini is a tremendous clay courter, but he’s not a player you can put your full trust in. Tsonga has won both their previous match-ups including one on clay in straight sets at the 2012 edition of Roland Garros, 7-5 7-5 6-4. Fognini is entertaining to watch, but still infuriates me at times with his attitude. Putting that aside, I really like the Fog’s chances of beating Tsonga.
Prediction: Fognini d. Tsonga in 3 sets
2. Grigor Dimitrov v David Ferrer
The last time that Grigor Dimitrov and David Ferrer played each other, Dimitrov came from a set down to secure his first ATP title in Stockholm. Dimitrov has struggled through his first two matches in Monte-Carlo up against Marcel Granollers and Albert Ramos, winning both in three sets. Originally I thought Dimitrov would win this match, but on the clay, I have had a change of heart.
Prediction: Ferrer d. Dimitrov in 3 sets
3. Pablo Carreno Busta v Novak Djokovic
I’ve always liked Pablo Carreno Busta after watching him play Roger Federer at Roland Garros last year and reading of his remarkable results on the ITF and Challenger tours in 2013. This year, he has stuck to the ATP main tour and struggled with the transition, posting a 3-9 W-L record before Monte-Carlo. He got into the draw as a lucky loser, who on the whole, seem to be taking advantage of their opportunities in the main draws this year. Stephane Robert at the Australian Open springs to mind. Carreno Busta enjoyed one of his best ever wins on Wednesday as he defeated Gael Monfils in straight sets. After Novak Djokovic dismantled Albert Montanes in the second round, an upset in this match would be pretty remarkable.
Prediction: Djokovic d. Carreno Busta in 2 sets
4. Tomas Berdych v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez continued his excellent recent form by beating the in-form Alexandr Dolgopolov, 6-1 7-5. Tomas Berdych is next up for the Spaniard. The world number five recovered from a break down in both sets of his second round encounter with Dmitry Tursunov to prevail, 7-5 6-4. Berdych didn’t play a great match and was not moving particularly well in his first match on the clay. However he showed why he is a top ten player with his ability to win that match in straight sets. GGL is in great form, but I reckon that Berdych will, once again, find a way to win.
Prediction: Berdych d. Garcia-Lopez in 3 sets
5. Tommy Robredo v Milos Raonic
Tommy Robredo and Milos Raonic endured similar matches on Wednesday as they both lost the opening set on Wednesday before storming through the next two to win in three sets. Robredo beat Julien Benneteau, 4-6 6-0 6-1 and Raonic beat Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-7(4) 6-2 6-1. The pair played their only ever match on clay in Barcelona last year with Raonic prevailing in a third set tiebreak. I’m intrigued by this one and am standing by my slightly wild prediction that Robredo will make the semi-finals.
Robredo’s hotshot from Monday in a first round match with David Goffin (Via ATPWorldTour)
Prediction: Robredo d. Raonic in 3 sets
6. Rafael Nadal v Andreas Seppi
I was surprised when researching this match-up that Andreas Seppi has actually beaten Rafael Nadal. That lone win came on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam in 2008 when Seppi came from a set down to win in the second round. Seppi has been improving in the last couple of weeks after a disappointing start to the year and certainly appears to be more at home on the clay. Nadal took a while to get going against Teymuraz Gabashvili on Wednesday, but shouldn’t be troubled particularly in this third round match.
Prediction: Nadal d. Seppi in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
7. Roger Federer v Lukas Rosol
Roger Federer cruised past Radek Stepanek on Wednesday, 6-1 6-2 and now faces Luka Rosol in third round. Federer faced Stepanek and Rosol back-to-back in Dubai two months ago and went on to win the title there. In Dubai Federer defeated Rosol, 6-2 6-2 after going down an early break. I don’t anticipate any problems for Fed in this one…
Prediction: Federer d. Rosol in 2 sets
8. Stanislas Wawrinka v Nicolas Almagro
I was really shocked to see the scoreline for Stanislas Wawrinka’s victory over Marin Cilic. I went for Stan in yesterday’s preview, but I thought it would be a much closer match than 6-0 6-2. By all accounts, Wawrinka played a fine match. Nicolas Almagro awaits in the third round and he is a very dangerous opponent on clay. Wawrinka has won their last three matches, of which two have been on clay. After today’s results, Wawrinka will be the favourite although I wouldn’t be surprised if Almagro at least took a set.
Prediction: Wawrinka d. Almagro in 2 very tight sets