Nadal, Djokovic Begin Clay Assault In Monte Carlo Wednesday
by Staff | April 17th, 2012, 11:27 pm
  • 81 Comments

The top two players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, open their clay court season Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal faces Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen in his first match. Nadal hasn’t won a title since the French Open, but hopes the familiar Monte Carlo clay where he’s won seven straight times will get him back on track.

“I haven’t won a title [for 10 months], but how many finals have I played? Win or lose, it depends,” Nadal said. “Over the past three years, I have decided to play the big tournaments, against the best players, so the challenge is greater if you want to win those titles.”

Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in the Monte Carlo final in 2009, begins his quest for a French Open title against Italian Andreas Seppi.

“I know how to recover well, to be ready, and I’ve been working hard in my off season and [the week] that I had off after Miami to prepare for clay because clay requires physically much more from a tennis player than other surfaces,” Djokovic said. “It’s a slower surface, your endurance needs to be on a high level. You need to by physically strong to expect long matches and long rallies.”

Both Nadal and Djokovic have 6-0 head-to-head advantages over their respective opponents Wednesday.

On Facebook, Djokovic wrote, “Tomorrow is D day :) My first clay court match since Roland Garros ’11! It sounds like it was long time ago, but for me it feels like it was yesterday. I’m ready and excited and see you all tomorrow 2nd match from 10:30am. I’ll be the skinny one in white ;)”

David Ferrer and Gilles Simon are also in action on Court Central. Bernard Tomic battles Alexandr Dolgopolov and Marin Cilic meets Tomas Berdych on the Princes Court.

Winners from Tuesday include Andy Murray, Stanislas Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Fernando Verdasco and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who celebrated his 27th birthday with a victory.

COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
[Q] F Gil (POR) vs [9] G Simon (FRA)
Not Before 12:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs A Seppi (ITA)
J Nieminen (FIN) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP)
T Bellucci (BRA) vs [5] D Ferrer (ESP)
D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs [3] M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB)

COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
B Tomic (AUS) vs [16] A Dolgopolov (UKR)
J Benneteau (FRA) vs [15] J Melzer (AUT)
M Cilic (CRO) vs [6] T Berdych (CZE)
[12] K Nishikori (JPN) vs [WC] P Mathieu (FRA)


Also Check Out:
Rafael Nadal: I Have Amazing Feelings When I Play Monte Carlo [Video]
Federer Reverses Monte Carlo Decision, Will Take On Nadal
Streaks That Ended After Rafael Nadal Lost To David Ferrer Today In Monte Carlo [Chart]
Novak Djokovic Was A Busy Man After Winning Monte Carlo [Video]
Rafael Nadal Surprises World By Declaring Clay Season Is His Most Favorite Part Of The Year!

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81 Comments for Nadal, Djokovic Begin Clay Assault In Monte Carlo Wednesday

skeezerweezer Says:

“I haven’t won a title [for 10 months], but how many finals have I played?

Lol….love that quote. Yes you are the greatest at being #2. Vamos Rafa! The draw is setup good for you. No excuses please. You should win easily MC with one bad knee and no confidence.


rave Says:

Skeezerweezer, totally agree. LOL


roy Says:

it’s true, making the last four gs finals and winning the davis cup is nothing special. better to lift the trophy at some 250s or 500s so you can claim a ‘title win’. otherwise it’s certainly an incredible drought.


Kimmi Says:

“the skinny one in white” lol.

Goodluck big guns. bring on great show.


Mark Says:

@skeez. You really are the pits!!!


racquet Says:

Nole wins 6-1 6-4. Smooth victory with a few awesome moments. Seppi had chances to make it tighter but fluffed them. Now on to Nadal’s debut.


racquet Says:

Just realized Nole meets Dolgo next. Will have the popcorn ready for that one.


Polo Says:

…watching RAfa-Neimenen match. I laughed when the commentator quipped, “Rafa making just a few adjustments”.


racquet Says:

Watching too. Nieminen is giving Rafa a harder time than anticipated.


racquet Says:

Nadal takes the first set 6-4. Not a blazing performance so far but credit to Jarko is taking it to him. Just spotted the great Borg watching.


Polo Says:

I’ll take a cue from Borg. I will be watching every Nadal clay court matches as I possibly can. He is probably the best I can ever see on this surface. I have to enjoy every moment.


Polo Says:

…the same way I will try to watch every Federer match, on any surface. These are two of the best players we are privileged to see.


jamie Says:

Nole is also an all time great. He will win 8-10 slams.


Humble Rafa Says:

No excuses please. You should win easily MC with one bad knee and no confidence.

Every tennis player has a strategy when he plays a match. So does your Humble Highness. It includes excuses (to be used only in losses, not wins).


racquet Says:

The Nadal we’re all familiar with has turned up in the 2nd set. Double break and about to serve it out.


racquet Says:

Oops! Jarko gets a break back.


racquet Says:

Finally Rafa comes through on a Niemenen DF for his 40th straight win at MC. He looked a little rusty and his groundstrokes lacked their normal depth but, as we know, he usually improves with every match.


Kimmi Says:

so, rafa and nole one down.


racquet Says:

Whoops, got that wrong…it’s 38 wins in a row, 40th overall.

On a side note, incredible that Wimbledon is planning to install the following “space age” players’ area:

http://tinyurl.com/d63hsk3

Apparently, Nole thinks it’s cool and Fed hates it.


Polo Says:

Djokovic is a very good player indeed. The best in a little over a year now. But at this point in time in their overall career, I would not put him on the same level as Federer and Nadal. Maybe later, but not yet.


Mark Says:

@Jamie. Djokass has had one incredible year. That hardly makes him an all time great!!


jane Says:

Dolgo is a tough 3rd rounder for Nole. He’s good on clay. Nole will have to be on very good form.


Kimmi Says:

WOW! bellucci playing well here.


racquet Says:

Yes, he is playing well. Ferrer looking all at sea.


Bella Says:

Racquet
I just read that they ditched the idea as some prominent tennis members were not happy with it.


jamie Says:

@Mark

Only all time greats win 3 slams in a row

Laver
Sampras
Federer
Nadal
Djokovic


racquet Says:

Bella,

Yes, I should’ve written Wimbledon ‘was’ planning to build the structure.


Kimmi Says:

Bellucci crushed ferrer! if only he could play this everyday????


racquet Says:

Wow! Didn’t expect that. First big upset – Ferrer out in straight sets.


Brando Says:

Well done bellucci!

Ferrer was awful- really awful!

Bellucci got game though, and he really should be a bigger force on clay than he is atm!

Him beating guys like ferrer shouldnt be seen as a shock but as something you would expect from tomaz given his talent!


jane Says:

Glad I didn’t take Ferrer to the final like I considered doing. Hmm. Bellucci was dangerous on clay last year, but not at the FO. However, I remember he almost ended Nole’s streak at Madrid. He can play well sometimes. So inconsistent though. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a catapult to more success or not.


Mark Says:

Bellucci is a fantastic player. Almost beat the djoker in Rome last yr. Here’s hoping for a Bellucci djoker match with Bellucci coming out on top.


alison hodge Says:

polo yeah great post,and nice to here someone say how priveleged we are to watch two greats like roger and rafa,even though they have done whats inevitable and lost a step,its still great that they are still contesting titles,win or loose they have set the bar so high,what they have achieved is legendary.


Brando Says:

ferrer is 30 this year- IF


Brando Says:

Following on, LOL, IF he doesnt do well on clay this year, maybe he could be on the beginning of his slide down the rankings?


Shailesh Says:

so much for the tough draw for Nole. One obstacle removed.


alison hodge Says:

nishikori is playing great against p.h.mathieu,a set and 4.0 up,he and Bellucci both can trouble nole,kei beat nole last year,and bellucci troubled him at rome last year,could be a sign of of things to come,two emerging talented players coming along.


Steve 27 Says:

All precipitates fans, foolishly, speak of the draws, when as usual, the matches must be played on the court and drawing conclusions are irrelevant. All of them spoke of the Murray ’s draw in Australia, and now of the draw of Djokovic. It fell Ferrer, who says if the scotish falls before semis, easing the way of the serbian.


sheila Says:

yawn, yawn, yawn, another predictable masters event w/nadal & djokovic in final. people are writing nadal off. hes only 25 yrs old. hes going 2sweep claycourt season btw im not a nadal fan, but the 2most consistent players on tour r nadal & djokovic & i think that will stay the same in 2012. yawn, yawn, yawn


Colin Says:

Sheila, I take it you didn’t watch Nadal’s semi- final in Monte Carlo last year?


alison hodge Says:

polo@ 9.54am i completely agree,i think some people are getting a little carried away,its still early days yet.


sheila Says:

colin i did watch it but dont remember who nadal played, but he won the tournament. lets face it, nadal & djokovic r the most consistent players, which i totally respect, but 4me it becomes predictable after awhile. there r really good players but most of them r not consistent or able to step up in major events & that has me believe that it will be another year of nadal & djokovic in finals.


Kimmi Says:

better that djokovic is stepping up, it was all nadal on clay in the past 7 or 8 years. That is boring for me. I think the fact that djokovic was able to beat him last year is great for tennis. I hope to see some great competitive matches this year with djokovic or somebody else winning some.


serbian hammer Says:

Mark do you remember Bellucci beating Murray and Berdych in Madrid last year quite convincing last year,or should i say he blasted them of the court.Especialy Murray.So him giving Djokovic problems in the semi final wasnt a surprise,but Djokovic showed his class and won the match.And he will do it again if he has to,dont you worry about it.Bellucci is good clay player,but Djokovic is his last stop,and Murray’s,and Nadal’s.


alison hodge Says:

i agree competition is whats interesting for tennis,domination is whats boring,and i dont care who the player is,murray played brilliant tennis against troiki yesterday,so i dont believe the clay court season is necassarily a gimee for nole or rafa,hoping for a mixture of players winning slams and masters titles this year.


Kimberly Says:

well i hope its a nice boring clay court season for everyone with nadal biting on a lot of trophies. Been so long i forgot what it looks like.


the_mind_reels Says:

@Kimberly:

…it’s been how long since you remember Nadal biting the Monte Carlo or French Open trophies?

I for one would like to see something more akin to last year’s clay season — with someone shaking things up a bit. MC and the French turned out the same old way, but it’d be nice to see some new guys stepping up and turning heads.


Colin Says:

Sheila, it was Murray. Having an injured elbow, he had an injection 20 minutes before play started, and went on court with an arm full of cortisone. Down 1-4 (I think) in the first set, he pulled it back to 4 all but lost the set. He then won the 2nd set 6-2, and towards the end was absolutley dominating Rafa, playing at least as well as he did against Troicki this week. Then, in the 3rd set, the cortisone wore off and Rafa pounced. I have ranted about that match often on various forums, because Murray has never had the credit he deserved.
If Andy maintains his form, he has a good chance of beating anyone in this tournament. I don’t say he will – I don’t do predictions – but it’s perfectly possible.


alison hodge Says:

i think kimberly also has a good point,novak cleaned up in that rivalry last year,where rafa had a quiet year with regard to winning trophies,so who can begrudge rafa of clening up here on clay,as its been so long since he lifted the last one.


Kimmi Says:

everyone want their fav to clean up everything. i want roger to win everything, but for neutral fans, competition is good.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Me thinks this Clay season is very important for Rafa. It will be a turning point in his career. If he wins and more importantly dominates the Clay season, it will bode him well the rest of the year. If he doesn’t, big troubles ahead.

Novak is fired up also, as the only slam he doesn’t own is the FO. There is going to be some major batlling going on between Rafa/Nole if they meet on Clay…..

Fed is the wild card, and has the abilities still to take either one out, but can’t see him taking both out in the same tourney….


Brando Says:

Oh come on now- some real BS is going on here about wanting competition! Long story short, fed fans know ONLY nole has a chance against rafa on clay, hence they root for him because they don’t won’t rafa to win! Plain and simple as that! For example, when fed was winning year in year out on grass where were the calls for competition? Nowhere! Credit to nole fans throughout this- at least they back their own guy to go through the competition- not someone else because your own fav just cannot pull it off against his main rival when it gets tough!


jane Says:

If Nole reaches the final, it’ll be a good run, through Dolgo, maybe Bellucci and then likely Murray. I don’t know how far he’ll go but since this is one place he has nothing to defend, he doesn’t have to go super deep.


jane Says:

Since the topic of “dominance” has come up again on this thread, I’ll post an article I read & posted the other day here; it’s interesting to read:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304432704577346162514878488.html

Of course most people are probably happy when their favourite players are dominating, Fed fans when Fed dominated, Rafa fans for Rafa in 2008 & 2010, and every year for nearly a decade on clay, Nole fans for the past year, etc., but then it’s not so exciting when other players besides a favourite are dominating. I think it’s probably interesting for occasional watchers of tennis when there are these “great” rivalries built up in the sport, when personalities are established at the top, and when records are being set and broken. A lot of attention is garnered when Rafa is trying to surpass Borg at the FO, or with Nole’s streak last year, or Fed’s slam count and so on. On the other hand, for some of us who watch all the time some surprises are exciting too – nice to see someone unexpected win occasionally, like when Ljub won IW out of the blue. Or when Delpo won the USO. That doesn’t happen much because we have these incredibly consistent top four – they truly are something else!


Kimmi Says:

i thought nole’s draw is tougher compared to rafa but then all rafas draws on clay are easy due to his record. I don’t know if ferrer going away has made it easier for nole. If bellucci gets to the qtr and is playing well he could be tougher than ferrer imo due to his bigger weapons.


Ajet Says:

dominance in any sport is quite good so long as my favourite guys/teams do it, lol! ;)


Ajet Says:

i for one completely agree with those who think it’s weird when people ask for competition when their guy no more wins and instead it’s the biggest rival of their guy who keeps on winning and sweeping titles!

i for one root against nadal particularly coz he’s so close to maching/overtaking my guy and i never say it’s due to my wish for tennis democracy or interest in competetition in tennis as i am particularly ok if federer keeps winning most of the important tournaments for years together, same must be true also for fans of others, even though we may hear different things in diferent tones from them(as well as of federer’s fans) about this!

moreover, it may be sick nature of mine, but i have always liked domination in many fields and the people dominating their respective fields are the ones who amaze, fascinate and thrill me!


skeezerweezer Says:

Brando

I know it’s an anomaly but Fed has beaten Rafa on the dirt


Brando Says:

@ ajet: THANK YOU. I applaud the fact that you openly say you root against nadal since you feel he may threaten your favs- federer- records. It’s understandable and human to think like that. No ones perfect and as fans we do get emotionally involve in the success, failures, legacy of our favs. I much rather have this open honesty as opposed to some BS call for competition when your own fav cannot dominate like he used to and his biggest rival is threatening to take over. I find it hypocritical, somewhat cowardly, and extremely laughable! There is no point of kidding yourself and others about competition when the REAL reason for you is something along the lines of not having ANY competition, threat to your favs place in the game. Show some guts folks and be honest, no point in carrying a charade of BS!


Brando Says:

@skeez: lol, I know he has. I have my own views on that BUT ultimately they dont matter- roger walked off with the win and trophies fair and square on those occassions! My post really wasn’t directly at federer, BUT moreso on fans who call for competition when their fav no longer is dominating as before, and all they really want is their favs rival to not be as successful as their guy! For example, Why don’t these ‘so called wanters of competition’ wish that rafa beats nole, since surely it shall be good for tennis IF the no.2 in the world doesn’t lose for the 8th occassion in a row to the world no.1? Logically speaking that would be a good thing for tennis wouldn’t, IF rafa where to beat nole the next time they meet? BUT I am sure the competition wanters shall be supporting nole on that occassion too!


Brando Says:

My final post on this competition matter is that, IMHO yes wanting competition would be good. However, when the competition you want is a scenario where a particular player, let’s say nadal, is basically not walking off with any major trophy- then that so called competition is BS! Since all you REALLY want is the success/ career of a major player to be marginalized to such an extent that he is no longer within the winners circle. THAT’S why I find this call for competition hypocritical- since what the posters- those who call for competition- REALLY want is the continuation of rafa’s recent lack of success. Let’s be truthful and frank about this rather than trying to BS ourselves or others about the so called HONOURABLE wish for competition!


Kimberly Says:

Brando—excellent post. But remember most of the competition wanters support their guy, who has suffered some bad defeats at the hands of rafa and they just can’t root for him. I’m not sure I could ever root for Djokovic really again and i used to like him. In some ways its understandable. I root against the Dallas Mavericks who beat the Heat last season in the NBA final. I hope they never win another basketball game how dare they.

But when I am neutral about the teams playing human nature is to generally pull for the upset. However, in tennis and even in football and basketball I realize you root for too many upsets and you end up with a tournament or playoff of nobodies and you could care less about watching the final rounds.

Lets say Jarko Nieman pulled the upset on Rafa today and somehow Dogopolov made it through the top section. Would anyone other than Carlo (i say this with affection) actually watch the match? If the philidelphia 76ers are playing the Denver Nuggets in the NBA final will anyone watch? This years superbowl had a surprise team but the Giants are akin to Darkhorse like Delpo or Raonic or Soderling, not a journeyman. So upsets are great, until you realize that there is no one you feel like bothering to watch. No star power.

Samantha Stosur played Angelique Kerber in the US Open semifinal and I doubt anyone even watched or cared. In fact, the day of the final several people I know who follow tennis were asking who Serena was playing!!!!!


Kimberly Says:

Brando–another excellent and accurate post. I agree. Call it what it is.


jane Says:

I know what you mean Kimberly, even though looking at this realistically, Nole took A LOT of beatings from Rafa first, lest you dear Rafa fans forget. ;) Before last year, Nole had lost in several slams to Rafa (3 FOs, USO final, Wimbledon semis, etc) as well as a number of finals of Masters to Nadal. So they are really only about EVEN now, and Rafa STILL has the winning H2H!! IMO the Nole versus Rafa rivalry VERY different from Fed and Nadal’s rivalry. Rafa had a lopsided H2H over Nole until this past year and yes, a lot of those wins were on clay, but now Nole has just begun to pull even. With Fed and Nadal it was different – they had a more even H2H and then Rafa just pulled away and kept winning more regularly. The H2H has become more lopsided. Nole’s and Rafa’s more even. So it’s apples and oranges.

That said, it’s looking like the LA Kings will likely knock out the Canucks tonight. And I will not be rooting for them to win the Cup, that’s for sure. ;)


Brando Says:

@Kimberly: Thanks.


Kimberly Says:

Speaking of that Jane, I meant to ask you on the bracket site wtf wrong with the Canucks? I was sorry to see them doing so poorly for your sake. The panthers are up 2-1 and people still think they will lose the series and they probably will!


Skeezerweezer Says:

Brando

Thanks Yeah I got that I mis read your post.


jane Says:

Kimberly, there are a few things wrong: the first one is that our power play SUCKS. We can’t score when we have the extra man. The second one is that we are missing Daniel Sedin due to a concussion that he got from a hit from a Chicago player near the end of regular season; he is our top scorer and him and Henrik (twin bro) work like the Bryan bros – they are mentally in sync, you know? Take away one and the other one has to work differently. Henrik usually feeds Daniel the plays and Daniel scores. But Henrik’s been setting up other teammates and they aren’t scoring. Possibly, too, we are up against a better goalie. Jonathan Quick of the Kings, has been, well quick and a King in net. He’s been really tough to beat. And then they have a player in Brown who has risen up and put the team on his back almost single-handedly, with his goalie, putting them ahead in the series. The sad thing is they may very well lose next round, whereas I think once the Canucks got going they might’ve won. But too little too late. I will root on your Panthers to surprise. Although I don’t like those rats!!! :)


Kimberly Says:

Well it’s not over til it’s over. Good luck tonight.


Brando Says:

@Skeez:

It’s fine- i tend to be guilty of mis-reading quite often too, lol!


Kimberly Says:

The panthers aren’t going anywhere. It would be huge of them just to get out of this round.


Leon Says:

@Kimberly, 7:54 pm:
Three (or even more) errors in spelling names of two journeymen. That speaks something, no? Oh, those pathetic outsiders! of top…how high supposed? 10? 5? 3? or maybe 1?
And I am sorry, I don’t count those asking who Serena was playing as people who follow tennis. I mean “I”, of course I can imagine they do exist, but I’d hardly be interested in discussing tennis with them. Also, I know some people who gradually start to forget who is Serena, and they follow tennis, too.
Recently we had an amazing thread on annihilation of some “vocal” journeyman. Nice tendency.
But on the whole, you’re right, of course.


Kimberly Says:

Ok Leon if the final is benneteu v wawrinka what will you be doing Sunday morning? Watching it? Be honest!


Leon Says:

I’ll try, Kimberly. Well, if TWO those at once, it’s tough…but wait, they had to show smth extraordinary during the week to reach the final, provided that, say, 3 of 4 top tenners were present, then…why not? Moreover, if I from time to time watch even the 1st rounds between such players…Wawrinka has a nice BH, one of the best on the tour, Benneteau, at last in the final of smth big, at that age…I had a pleasure to watch that late Ljubicic masters win…so…if being free of family duties…why not? I can’t say my temptations will be equally high, be Novak-Roger-Rafael there, but anyway, a masters/slam final…
Kimberly, I say again, you are pretty right, but, apart from loving tennis, I really respect many players and always feel bad when I notice some signs, even unintentional, of belittling them without any real reason. Maybe because I myself am not a star, I don’t know. Does not matter. After all, I am also not a tournament director, so to watch B-W will not crash my businessplan, he he.


carlo Says:

Kimberly, I’d probably have to stream Dolgopolov v Niemenen and there would be a lot of Ukrainian and Finnish watching with me. Also lots of underdog fans in parts of Europe, actually :D

Mostly, I’d like someone who has fought hard a long time and has no title like Julien Benneteau to win a masters 1000. Or moreso, Ferrer who has won titles but no Masters 1000.


Kimberly Says:

Carlo, I think anyone with a heart, whether or not they like both players would say ferrer deserves a masters and Murray a grand slam.


Kimberly Says:

And Carlo, I had no doubt you would watch your boy on live stream, I didn’t see him today did he fix his hair?


carlo Says:

Also love Stanley to pull off a masters 1000.

I get your point though. Tournaments and fans, want to watch the marquee names. I’m in a minority. But does that make me strange, to be even more happy to watch Wawrinka v Dolgo than Fedal? or Nole v Rafa?

Tennis doesn’t end for me when Rafa, Roger, Nole retire. My list of favorites is long and for various reasons. I respect Stakhovsky’s opinion and love watching his tennis.


carlo Says:

Was up at 4 am and still made it to work. But yes, his corn rolls are gone and the ponytail is short.

I’m going to bed now – want to be up early to watch Nole and Sasha. Nole will win, no doubt but… oh, i think Murray’s match comes on 1st. Might not get to see Nole.


Ajet Says:

”Kimberly Says:
Carlo, I think anyone with a heart, whether or not they like both players would say ferrer deserves a masters and Murray a grand slam.”

COMPLETELY AGREE!!!


Ajet Says:

Thanks Brando for your nice comment! :)

but brando, it’s just my opinion that fed also has and almost always had some chances against even a great playing nadal on clay, it’s just that he couldn’t take it: at the beginning due to nadal being the simply superior clay courter(without fed’s realisation), and then later(after fed’s realisation about him being inferior than nadal on clay) due to fed developing a mental blockade against him…

Top story: Djokovic, Murray Advance At US Open, Azarenka Survives; Federer, Monfils v Dimitrov Tuesday
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