Will Nadal, Federer, Murray be Tested Thursday in Monte Carlo? Verdasco Out of Fire
by Sean Randall | April 14th, 2011, 12:30 am
  • 47 Comments

After a slow start to the preceding in Monte Carlo, things really pick up Thursday for third round play. All four matches on Court Central are finger-licking good, and outer court matches aren’t bad either.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s path to a seventh straight Monte Carlo title takes him through Richard Gasquet. Nadal should be able to word it to Gasquet’s weaker backhand to come through. But I expect the French to put up a good fight. Gasquet did beat Roger Federer on this same court a number of years ago and he does have the game (read, a worthy backhand) to answer Nadal.

“[It] was just the first match on clay, so is important victory for me for sure, [to] start winning,” said Nadal after his 25th straight clay win. “Today was a positive start. I think I played better than what I practiced the last days, so that’s always positive. For sure was a good victory, I think.”

Said Gasquet on facing Nadal, “”I have nothing to lose against him, when Nadal plays on clay. I appreciate him very much as a person. But tomorrow I’m going to try to play a very good match. I’m happy now that I’m in the round of 16. Everything is going well for me because my ranking is better. With Nadal, we know what to expect.”

No. 2 seed Roger Federer, who is seeking his first Monte Carlo title, is up against Marin Cilic. The almost-forgotten Cilic has been play much better this season after a horrendous second half of 2010. Still, Federer looked pretty crisp in his win over Phil Kohlschreiber so I think we’ll see a similar result against Cilic who probably prefers other surfaces to clay.

After two long months, Andy Murray finally got back in the win column Wednesday defeating Radek Stepanek in straight sets.

“[I'm] feeling a lot better about tennis,” Murray said. “I mean, I played great. Dominated the match from the second, third game. Was a wee bit tentative towards the end, which I think is probably natural. I went for it, hit the ball really clean, wasn’t miss-hitting anything, moved really well, was really happy.

“I play well on clay. I think I can have good results on it if I play like I did today at the start. I’m going to try and keep that up. The more matches I play, the better my rhythm is going to get. I’m sure I can go deep in the big tournaments.”

Murray’s reward is the tough Frenchman Gilles Simon. Both guys play a similar, counter-punching style and each can feed off the pace of the opponent. So it will be interesting to see who makes the first move. I give a small edge to Murray. Sure, he’s playing horribly but sometimes all it takes is one win to get your confidence back. I think Murray got that today. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s 4-1 career against Simon.

“[Gilles is a] very tough player,” Murray added. “Doesn’t make many mistakes. I’ve played him a lot of times. He’s tough. If I play like I did today, good intensity, I give myself a good shot.”

Milos Raonic is the far-and-away the breakout star in 2011. Playing in his first red clay event, the Candian knocked out Michael Llodra and then Ernests Gulbis. Neither guy is a dirt phenom but you have give the 20-year-old credit. However, today in a rematch of an Australian encounter, he’ll meet an A-level claycourter in David Ferrer. Not only is Ferrer very comfortable on the red stuff, he’s also one of the best returners in the game and he’s beaten Raonic. So big edge to Ferrer, but I think it’ll be a tight match.

Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro who plays Jurgen Melzer are among the other players in action on a busy Thursday.

As for results Wednesday, the only one that really stands out is just how badly Fernando Verdasco is playing. The 2010 Monte Carlo finalist haplessly lost to his countryman Tommy Robredo today 6-4, 6-3 for his fifth loss in six matches. And this defeat will send the lefty out of the Top 10 and one has to wonder if he will ever return.

On the season Verdasco did reach the San Jose final (losing to Raonic) but it’s April and he hasn’t beaten anyone in the Top 45 yet. In fact, he hasn’t beaten a Top 45 ranked guy since the US Open! Ouch. Sounds like someone who has clearly lost that edge.

Tennis Channel will again have complete coverage. About the only complaint I have is that the matches come on so early in the U.S. and by lunchtime the day is done.

THURSDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE

COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
M Raonic (CAN) vs [4] D Ferrer (ESP)

Not Before 11:30 AM
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [13] R Gasquet (FRA)

Not Before 1:30 PM
[15] M Cilic (CRO) vs [2] R Federer (SUI)
[3] [WC] A Murray (GBR) vs [16] G Simon (FRA)
G Monfils (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) vs [5] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)

COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
I Ljubicic (CRO) vs [5] [WC] T Berdych (CZE)
T Robredo (ESP) vs [11] V Troicki (SRB)
[Q] F Gil (POR) vs [8] G Monfils (FRA)
[7] J Melzer (AUT) vs [9] N Almagro (ESP)


Also Check Out:
Federer Reverses Monte Carlo Decision, Will Take On Nadal
Djokovic Withdraws From Monte Carlo
Nadal Allows Verdasco 1 Game in Monte Carlo Final
Nadal Wins, Federer v Wawrinka in All-Swiss Thursday at Monte Carlo
No Djokovic in Monte Carlo Where Nadal, Federer Begin Clay Season

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47 Comments for Will Nadal, Federer, Murray be Tested Thursday in Monte Carlo? Verdasco Out of Fire

Eric Says:

Boy were you wrong about Raonic and Ferrer. A tight match? I mean, credit for taking out Gulbis, sure, but Llodra on clay? The guy is 14-29 career on the red stuff…

Gasquet is playing superbly against Nadal (in spite of 6-2, 2-2 performance so far), but it’s obvious he never thought he might be able to win, which is a shame because he could at least have made it close. Nadal may just be cruising at needed level of quality, but he’s not exactly looking super terrifying.

And Ljubičić took out Berdych in straights — pretty unexpected…


Eric Says:

I’m guessing not many people are up to watch this, so… Gasquet just reeled off four points in a row from 15-40 down to hold…very nice stuff!


Tennis Vagabond Says:

I like Gasquet’s game plan: Refuse to chase down any balls out of arms length, or even stick your racquet out to catch passing shots.

Way to show Nadal you’re not cooperating Richie! Gasquet is the anti-Nadal. I’ve never seen such a lazy performance. His shots are terrific today, has anyone told him that’s only half the game?

He just lets passing shots blow by him, like, if Rafa doesn’t have the respect to flub Gasquet’s approach, Gasquet doesn’t want to play.

What a goob.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Ah, he heard me. But now you’ve broken the no-coaching rule. Goob.


Eric Says:

TV, I agree – that’s what I mean about obviously not believing he can win. But I also want to be fair — Rafa isn’t exactly chasing everything down either. What I find really mystifying is why Gasquet keeps going up to the net for no discernible reason. It’s like he hopes Rafa is just going to mess up because he’s coming in for a volley (which, granted, is happening every now and then).

Anyway, they’re level in the second set with one break apiece. If anything, Gasquet is doing a bit better in the rallies, but Rafa is winning more free points on serve. So I’d say Gasquet is doing just fine for himself, for now.


Eric Says:

Well…never mind. Another easy break tossed to the wind by RG.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Really pathetic work by Gasquet. Totally unprofessional. He has the shots, but not the heart.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

A little surprised Raonic got blow away by Ferrer, but not much. Ferrer is just slightly below the top 3 on clay, and this was Milos first ever World tour clay event. So two wins is still a great result for him. If Ferrer’s clay court play is as stepped up as his hard court play was at Oz, he can challenge Fed and Nole, and maybe even Rafa.


dari Says:

hmm, gael and gil must be playing snail’s pace, long points, long games, etc. in 49 mins they are at 4-4 and fed and cilic have played one set and one game in a few minutes less than that.


skeezerweezer Says:

Gasquet seems like he has the talent to play so much better, but how hard does he really work?

He is already made 5mil in his career, and close to 300k already this yr not including any sponsors or endorsements. Maybe he is just livin the life…..


Eric Says:

I’m not down with all this Gasquet-drubbing. Yes, he has the talent to be a top ten player and often fails to deliver — it sounds crazy, but I think he actually could have picked up a set against Rafa today — but he’s on the way back up – he is ranked no. 18 and will now pick up a few more points in the next ranking. This is much better than the no. 50 or whatever he was a year ago. He’s always been a shotmaker, so his game runs off the rails every now and then. And you can save a lot of energy not chasing down every single ball Nadal hits at you.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Wow, the knocking out of Almagro, Verdasco and Berdych certainly puts a new slant on my own pre-clay tier-setting. Could Melzer be ready to finally reaffirm his space in the top 10?
Is Ljubicic actually going to die on the court, like of a heart attack or something, against Rafa?
Stay tuned!


Eric Says:

Some more thoughts…

Murray’s 6-3, 6-3 win over Simon tells me that he is back and ready to be a threat again. Granted, I didn’t see the match.

Sucks for Robredo – 6-3 first set win over Troicki, but I guess he injured himself in the second and had to retire.

Pretty surprised that Melzer got past Almagro, especially 6-1, 6-4. I didn’t see that one either, but I’m guessing that Almagro must have had a wicked off day to lose like that. Even so, Melzer must be playing well too, so his matchup against Federer should be really interesting. It’s cool to see them playing a lot now after ten years of never meeting each other on tour (or whatever)…


dari Says:

lol, tv. but heart attacks aren’t funny


goat galz Says:

Crowd boos Murray dropshots (Simon twisted his ankle) – Murray’s answer: Doubles the amount of drop shots and laugh at crowds’ booing.

Won’t make the crowd like you Murray.


dari Says:

he also turned down an on-court interview to the crowd saying “it wouldn’t make much sense”
but i don’t think andyM is worried about people liking him right now, and really, neither am i.


jane Says:

Melzer was in the semis of FO last year, and he won the Wimbledon doubles championship. Guess we forgot he likes the Euro scene. ;) But I can’t see him beating Fed, that said.


jane Says:

Why would the crowd boo dropshots in the first place? Seems strange, since they are a very strategic and hallmark shot on clay. If Simon turned his ankle getting to the drop shot, should Murray be booed. Seems whacked!


dari Says:

eric, tv, everybody, you guys need to be in the bracket!
simon twisted his ankle at end of first set, but murray looked fine.
not overly aggressive or anything, but took some more chances when he needed too. i never thought he was done being a threat, just a slump


jane Says:

dari,didn’t see the match but just read the reports. Simon didn’t actually twist his ankle getting to a drop shot but did so trying to retrieve a backhand d.t.l. deep to the baseline, which in the end was long, so it was perhaps a bad choice to chase it down. Then again, you never know, so Simon did and twisted his ankle. In the second set Murray used drop shots and that’s why they booed, because they thought Murray was exploiting Simon’s injury or something. But what’s he supposed to do? Hit it right to Simon because he’s injured?


dari Says:

It was just an ugly looking ankle roll doing a split step. It wasn’t terribly out of reach or anything, just going for the ball like you’re supposed to.
Murray was drop shotting before the ankle, too.
No biggie. Props to Simon though for getting a hell of a tape job and going back out there- even breaking Murray right after the ankle roll.


leo vixen Says:

@Jane. Simon twisted his ankle and Murray just kept playing more drop shots on purpose knowing that Simon couldn’t chase those down. Since the French crowd was supporting Simon they felt that the drop shots were excessively cruel so they booed Murray who just “added fuel to the fire” by laughing @ the French crowd. Sports is competitive and Murray was not out there to win brownie points but to win the match, but at least he should have had the smarts not to taunt the crowd and wear a sarcastic smirk on his face after he won those points. That part was very disrespectful to Simon and will give a lot of ammunition to the “Murray Haters” myself included.


Lulu Iberica Says:

If Muzza needs to have a bit of an attitude with the crowd to win, I say go with it! It’s much better than berating himself and his box every time he makes an error, or the opponent hits a winner. I didn’t see the match, but it sounds like Simon put up a good fight. If Murray can keep his cool when the opponent is playing well, that seems like the key to me. At AO he was steamrolling guys, and then once he met some resistance with Dolgo it seemed like that got under his skin and he showed some mental vulnerability. Glad he’s back to playing like the world #4!


tennis coach Says:

Murray is right, crowd is wrong.Why would they boo in the first place,this is proffesional tennis.


gonzalowski Says:

In the other hand, the crowd were very respectful with Nadal today, facing countryman Gasquet.


Fritz Says:

Drop shots are not against the rules. Good on Murray for playing lots of those. Especially when an opponent couldn’t move very well. It is called using your advantage to win. Only losers could boo that. And good on Andy for taunting the crowd and laughing at the boos. I like him even more for that – he puts human face on today’s tennis. Everyone thinks that way, but they hide it for the pollitically correct BS reasons, Murray doesn’t.
I think it’s time to show more personality in tennis and replace personalities that always say the same thing after the match – no spice…

Should Karlovic be booed when he uses his god-given heigth and serves the way he serves?

Should Nadal be booed for exploiting Federer’s one-handed backhand?

Should Davis Cup hosts be booed for choosing a surface that oposing team doesn’t like?

Bottom line – Murray did not hurt Simon and playing drop shots after that moment is only logical, every coach would advise him that. As a profesional player who gets paid to beat Simon in that match, he’d be fool not to exploit every possible opportunity that present itself.

And they had the audacity to ask him for an on-court interview afterwards? My only complain to Andy is that he should have accepted and tell the booing crowd what he really thought of them. John MacEnroe would have done that, the man who brought more fans to tennis than bland-personalities Sampras, Lendl, Federer and Nadal combined.


sheila Says:

meltzer will give fed a hard time i think. lfty & will most likely exploit federers bh on this surface hope roger pulls it out however. murray really looks good & imho, this is a guy w/so much versatility, he should be winning a lot more on all surfaces. nadal, what can one say about nadal. my prediction: there is no one that can beat him on clay or anyone that can beat him in a best of 5. he would have 2b having a really bad day, so he will get his 7th victory here plus all the 7000 pts he needs 2 defend, he will. the guy is peaking, and although djokovic is a threat, i don’t c djokovic taking #1 ranking over. when nadal gets on clay again, it is so predictable that he will win everything. i think he is much more dominant than federer and i am a devout federer fan.


skeezerweezer Says:

^ Think it is great he is playing aginst Melzner. He needs all the lefty matches he can take for his game.
Put it another way, if he can get by him, he’ll be warmed up for a possible Fedal.

Domination? On Clay, he wins 90% of his matches played. On everything else? Not so sure. I would still pick Fed ( heyday ) as the most dominate player tennis seen on the overall tour….

Go Fed!


goat galz Says:

But what’s he supposed to do?

Jane, how about not taunting the crowd? Very low class. As I recall Djoker did this in NY but he was aroung 21 years old. How old is Murray? 24? This isn’t the first time Murray has shot himself in the foot–telling the arabs that he was just using their tournament for some practice, not wearing Fred Perry but instead wearing another designer, and promising he’d play Marseilles a couple of years in a row and then bowing out at the last moment.

On a postive note, there was no sign of his mummy.

Go Fed


Kimmi Says:

WEEEEEEE! happy for muzza. two matches. tomorrow he gets gil. who is gil? have to check him up..

Now for fed. good performance! go get melzer tomorrow.

Sheila – people have beaten nadal on best of five. he is not winning everything. injured or not, it does not matter..he lost. I agree he dominates on clay.

I am waiting to see if nadal wins everything on clay. his season is packed this year. if he does ..yeah good for him, but wont be easy. Monte carlo, Barcelona, rome, madrid, RG..good luck rafa.


Kimmi Says:

hahah goat galz – muzza fired all his coaches, including his mummy!


Kimmi Says:

actually i am surprised nadal has not served baking goods yet. there is still chance…


Polo Says:

Maybe Nadal is reserving his baked goods for somebody special.


goat galz Says:

muzza fired all his coaches, including his mummy!

Really Kimmi? He said he wasn’t going to stop
travelling with the she-beast.

Go Fed


Fritz Says:

Calling Murray’s mother that???
Hmm, I personally think that the “she-beast” nick name is more appropriate for Federer’s traveling companion. She’s pretty heavy…


Polo Says:

Why all this animosity against mothers? I cannot understand. What I know for sure is that all mothers love their children. Knowing that, it is easy for me to overlook whatever behaviour they manifest while watching their offsprings’ game. How so unfair to call any mother a she-beast.


funches Says:

The French are complete morons and sickeningly, disgustingly over-the-top patriotic when it comes to tennis.

The Monte Carlo crowd embarrassed itself just like the Roland Garros crowd does every year.


Kimmi Says:

strange that djoko not playing this week but practicing at monte carlo tennis grounds. I also saw his pictures at the players party.

http://www.tennistv.com/page/Video/0,,11444~1753098,00.html

injury! what injury?


dari Says:

Gasp, Fritz! You must not like fed, cause no fed fan would say that about Mirka! Blasphemy.
Seriously though, wonder what all these people look like who make jokes about Mirka?
She passed fed’s test, so obviously she has something going on.
when I think how long theyve been together and how much of a dork roger is, I have trouble thinking that hes ever been with anyone else, honestly.
Well they’re filthy rich and talented and have cute kids so good for them!


dari Says:

And same for whoever called andYM’s mom that, too!


Lulu Iberica Says:

RE Mirka, I think she’s attractive other than being a bit overweight. Fed isn’t exactly a hunk. Plus, the important thing is that she seems like a totally devoted wife and mother, and she was a tennis pro, too. Agassi talks in his autobiography about how great it was that Steffi understood what he needed when he was on tour, and that totally contrasted with Brooke Shields and her self-absorption and lack of interest in his career. I think Mirka’s probably great for Fed!


Polo Says:

Brooke reminds me of Brooklyn. Both beautiful. Both look disinterested when watching their husbands play.


thark Says:

umm…

quit dissing the women who tirelessly support the players we love.

that’s lame.


jane Says:

Agree thark. Go ladies who tirelessly support – mums, girlfriends, wives, fans even ;)


Huh Says:

lol mrs.jane! ;)


Lulu Iberica Says:

Dari, I will admit that is a great pic of Rog! Sometimes I find him handsome, but then other times not at all. I still say he’s not hunk material, but not many are.

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Rankings
ATP - Oct 20 WTA - Oct 20
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 David Ferrer5 Na Li
6 Tomas Berdych6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Marin Cilic8 Ana Ivanovic
9 Milos Raonic9 Caroline Wozniacki
10 Andy Murray10 Angelique Kerber
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