Nadal, Djokovic Headline Start Of Clay Season At Monte Carlo
by Sean Randall | April 14th, 2018, 2:24 pm
  • 60 Comments

The clay is here! And that mean’s Rafa time. So the question for the 2,034th straight year, is…can anyone stop Rafael Nadal? With his rivals either injured, on vacation or busy firing coaches, the only answer to that question is no, no?

Well, there is a catch. Nadal is coming off a hip injury which was supposed to be ok for Indian Wells/Miami but it wasn’t. He looked good at Davis Cup last weekend so hopefully that ailment is in the past, and if it is that spells bad news for everyone else.

Nadal will now set his sights on an 11th Monte Carlo crown, so on to the draw…

RAFAEL NADAL QUARTER
Talk about a loaded section. Rafa’s drawn with Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and he could open against big Russian Karen Khachanov. Djokovic and Thiem could meet in the third round, that’s if Djokovic can get past Borna Coric, which is a huge question mark. Regardless, I like Thiem but I like Nadal more. It’s a very, very tough section, but it’s Rafa.
The Pick: Rafael Nadal

GRIGOR DIMITROV QUARTER
With arguably the two favorites in once section – Nadal and Thiem, plus Djokovic – the rest of the draw is a little thin, and that includes Grigor Dimitrov’s section. The struggling Bulgarian has lost 4 of his last 5 but finds himself again in the role of favorite to come out of his quarter. Goffin probably would be my guy here, but he’s still returning from an eye injury, next up from there are maybe Albert Ramos Vinolas or Roberto Bautista Agut. Ramos Vinolas made the finals last year, so he has the points pressure, but Dimitrov hasn’t impressed me and RBA plays his best on hard, so…
The pick: Albert Ramos Vinolas

ALEXANDER ZVEREV QUARTER
Despite gagging in the Miami final, hey, at least Alexander Zverev got there! And he’s the pick in this section which includes Lucas Pouille, Diego Schwartzman and Fabio Fognini. Richard Gasquet is also in there and so too in the intriguing Canadian teen Felix Auger Aliassime who, courtesy of a wildcard, opens against Zverev’s big brother, Mischa. But I think this comes down to Zverev, Fognini or Schwartzman. With his firepower, Zverev should win – remember, he won the last clay Masters at Rome! – but in an upset I’ll lean to the little man from Argentina, Schwartzman, to derail 2017 semifinalist Pouille and then stun the German.
The Pick: Diego Schwartzman

MARIN CILIC QUARTER
Maybe the pick of the first round is in the final quarter, and that’s Tomas Berdych against Kei Nishikori. While I don’t think either will ultimately contend for the title, it’s a brutal first rounder. And it’s inside a very tricky section with Pablo Carreno Busta, Milos Raonic, Daniil Medvedev, Marin Cilic and Pablo Cuevas who opens with Fernando Verdasco is another good one. So who’s the favorite? If you asked five different people you could get five different answers. But I’m going to side with Carreno Busta. I think the Spaniards are going to have a big start and I think he gets through Berdych and Cilic. Though, we could see anyone come out of here.
The Pick: Pablo Carreno Busta

SEMIFINALS

Nadal d Ramos Vinolas – Rematch from 2017 final goes the same way in the semifinals.
Schwartzman d PCB – What the heck, Inser and Sock have Masters titles, so…

FINAL

Nadal d Schwartzman – #11 for Rafa.

With Rafa soon to be 32, could this be the last big clay season for the legend? I think so. I think this is it. Knees, hips, wrists, ect. This could very well be Nadal last Monte Carlo title. That’s just my feeling.

But he’s still the favorite and anyone other than him winning it would be a total shock.

Of course, Djokovic is going to be a big story next week. He needs a decent result after dumping Agassi/Stepanek and I think going back to Marian Vajda should help. But I just don’t know how much is left in that gas tank. It seems to me Djokovic is just fried.

And let’s see how Zverev fares. He just made the Miami final and won the last Masters on clay.

That said, next week servers as a great measuring stick for guys like Djokovic, Thiem, Dimitrov and others to see how they stack up against Rafa, should they meet.

But again, with so many sadly not here – Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, JW Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Kevin Anderson, there a lot of opportunity for a guys like a Schwartzman. Let’s see is Nadal can restore order or if the trend of the first-time, surprise Masters winners continues.


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60 Comments for Nadal, Djokovic Headline Start Of Clay Season At Monte Carlo

Willow Says:

Gosh how cute is that picture, of Rafa and the two little ones ?, welcome back Rafa cant wait to watch you play win or lose ….


chofer Says:

At last! Tennis-x put on some work and left gossiping behind:))

Schwartzman is some bold pick! But Sean’s were apalling at Meamee.

Lets’ see. Play on!


skeezer Says:

Schwartzman? Lol.
Give Rafa the trophy now.


AndyMira Says:

Wait!….Sean picked AVR till semis??Really Sean??I mean..he’s not in good form at all this year…He lost in 3 clay courts already this year..Always in Rd2 or 3..He just lost to unknown Russian Qualy in Rd 2 this week in Marrakech while been a Top Seed…And,next week i think the pressure of been finalist last year once again will get to him..And to pick him till semis?..that’s really bold from u indeed Sean!!Hehehe…

And oh!…Agree with u on Speedy Schwartzy go not so straight to the final!…He got a tough draw with Pouille & Sascha..possibly Fognini too and PCB who’s clay court specialist himself…In fact all of them r very good on clay..But,yeah!…i picked him to the final too… Bring it on!!


Giles Says:

https://twitter.com/jane79591745/status/985212128893136896?s=21
My my, no Federer thread? No worries, I’ll plonk this here.


Humble Rafa Says:

Imagine the day when there will be real Humble Rafas like the the ones in the picture…Xisca, time is running.


skeezer Says:

Rafa vs da Schwartz, can hardly wait.


j-kath Says:

Willow: Also love that pic. of Rafa with the 2 cute kids.

PS: Some more indications of Lendl + Alexander.
https://www.ubitennis.net/2018/04/alexander-zverev-confident-davis-cup-will-not-change-hints-future-partnership-lendl/


rognadfan Says:

Mr. Randall has gone somewhat berserk in his picks since miami. Like when he picked Querry to reach seim(or the final, not sure).
Schwartzman is definitely a better pick at MC than Querry was at Miami though. The guy is playing so well on clay, who knows.

But at the end of the day, these picks are pretty moot this time, if you ask me. Everyone knows why.


rognadfan Says:

Post at 6:15am,
Here comes one of the usual hate-filled twitter link.
It’s an individual sport. Every one of those 1500+ pros are trying to lengthen their career and earn as much as they can.

It’s the utter jealousy spilling out there. BTW Rafa will be raking money at laverCup too.

Too bad, currently it seems unlikely for Rafa to be able to continue until 37 even if he wanted to. But I don’t know why that’s the problem with some fanatics.
Not everyone develops their game the same way. Hence, there are prices to pay. Again, I am sure Rafa has no regrets, like Giles is going to have when Rafa retires.


Okiegal Says:

@Giles…..Way to go Giles…..good plonking!! LOL. 🤣🤣🤣


Markus Says:

What good does it do to resent another person’s success? It won’t change anything. All you get is bitterness with nothing to gain.


Giles Says:

Cheers Oki. 🌻


Willow Says:

Rogernad fan that link is from a Djokovic fan ….


Telperion Says:

Nole is toast in first round, I think. I hope I’m wrong and he finally gets his s*** together. Please!

Rafa will be the champion, for sure. And I’d love to see Schwatzman going into semis! That’d be awesome! Shorties’ power!


Okiegal Says:

@Giles…….🥂


Okiegal Says:

We do not know who the champion will be….. I refuse to count chickens before they’re hatched……..


Willow Says:

My thoughts exactly, and people keep saying Novak could catch fire at any minute so who knows, dare say us fans will be crucified either way ….


Willow Says:

Humble Rafa i try to stay away from relationship guidance as this is a tennis forum, but the Nadal family are rich enough to have her eggs frozen, pay for a suragate etc etc, whatever way they chose ….


Daniel Says:

Also, Nadal has a bit extra pressure to defend his #1 ranking. If he doesn’t win Fed back at #1. Same for Barcelona and Madrid.


Giles Says:

Daniel. For goodness sake, rafa is not interested in #1, fed is though!


Willow Says:

If Fed gets it back then he gets it back, not overly concerned ….


skeezer Says:

Giles,
I love how you try to scour the internet for negative Fed news. Laughable. That whole story is based on two sentences Rafa says about Fed. The rest is hyped up by the writer.
One could also say that Rafa is saying that now cause he has lost 4 straight against the GOAT. Seems like his only chances now at beating a old man is on Dirt.
Lol.


skeezer Says:

“Daniel. For goodness sake, rafa is not interested in #1, fed is though!”

Even more laughable. Short memory loss? Rafa played one match and left the tournament last year so he could secure the #1 ranking. He doesn’t care. Right.


Daniel Says:

Skeeeze,

He lost 5 straight, you are forgetting Basel 2015;-)


Willow Says:

I Never said he doesnt care, im not a mind reader, all im saying is i dont, if Federer gets it back, then fair play and all power to him ….


squirrel Says:

Hey Willow, miss chatting with you all here, hope AM is active too. so excited for the tennis season to be back again with clay now! Rafa will dominate for sure but not sure why Sean is so sure that this will be his final year, as Rafa has been back from injuries to dominate clay before

So sick of Twitter link just to insult players..and also shame to those who celebrate it, champagne glasses really? twitter is never the news, just random people expressing their feelings as if those really matters, hehe


Giles Says:

Skeezer. That was then, this is now. It was more important then than it is now?
Hope you understand the difference between .” then” and “ now”!
Lol


AndyMira Says:

Hey hey hey Squirrel my bro!!….Where have u been??Miss u here u know!Miss u on Bracket Challenge too!..I guess i only have a chance to kick your b@#$ on TDC when the grass start showing it’s face!!…And not before!Hahaha…

About twitter…just ignore it Squirrel!…The world full of hateful people…I ignore it too!Hehehe…

Btw…it’s good to have u back here again bro!…Oh!…u’re gonna vote for the Election next month bro?U vote before?


Giles Says:

^^ I am of course referring to the #1 ranking, in case you misinterpret my post.


Markus Says:

Being number one is not only good for the record and ego, it also brings with it millions of dollars of endorsement money. Who wouldn’t want that?


AndyMira Says:

Wohohohoho!…60 in the 1st set for Nole??He really looks like the Nole of old..maybe too much respect from Dusan too..But,so far so good from Nole…C’mon Nole!U can do it!!


Daniel Says:

Wow, just checked scores and 6-0 first set, about time! Hope clay bring his ressurgenca back.


Daniel Says:

Kei also beat Berdych so, the “srecovering players” already making some noise.


RZ Says:

Yay for Kei! Always an underrated clay player. Hopefully this is a sign of finally being over all those injury issues and good things to come.


Daniel Says:

RZ, Kei won Barcelona and played Nadal tough in Madrid a few years back. He sure likes the dirt, speacially as he has a weak serve and on clay it doesn’t matter much, they know there will be a bunch of service breaks.

Impressed by Djoko win. Saw a video of him practicing and he was hitting the ball way harder than his previous 2 matches. Seems confidence and trusting his arm more.


RZ Says:

The ATP looked at stats related to players winning a match after losing the first set. To the shock of no one, the Big 4 lead among active players in this area. Rafa has the highest percentage in terms of overall matches won after losing the 1st set; Andy has the highest percentage of finals won after losing the 1st set. http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/fedex-comebacks-april-2018


RZ Says:

Daniel – I remember that. He also (shocker!) got injured during the FO that year and had to withdraw or retire from a match. So much potential, so many injuries…


Willow Says:

Hi Squirrel hope your well hun, i dont really know where Rafa is physically, unless your a Nadal fan the rest of the world are just dying to see him fail anyway, however time will tell , ears need syringing tone deaf and a little bit irritable lol ….


Giles Says:

Lol.Record, ego,Dollars!! Some people are happy with just that in life. Some but not all.


Willow Says:

For Rafa fans, Rafa ties J.Mac with 170 weeks at world number 1, but then again he doesnt relish the number 1 ranking apparantly well according to some, hes not a born leader *ROLLS EYES* ….


Margot Says:

Wowzer Nole!
Great to see Kei back and beating Bird, even better.
Just watched Tsip stamp all over Shapo. Given that Shapo’s serve wasn’t clicking, Tsip looked mighty at home on clay.


Van Persie Says:

Nole won today against a good friend. 2 years ago I would have not bothered even to watch the score, had he play Dusan…Today I was nervous before the match. How things change :)
Glad that Nole got this, was huge for me. Lol

Coric will be a huge challenge and hope to see a competitive match. Well, not that I would be bothered to see Djoko trashing Borna ;)


Willow Says:

Why couldnt they all say Rafa is the KOC and leave it at that, i might be been overly sensitive here, but why are some turning it into been about themselves, i won the FO, so and so won the FO, then theres a but Rafas the KO, im more irritated with some of the players remarks, they praised him but then made it about themselves ….


Willow Says:

Hes not called the KOC for nothing , err did anybody say he was ?


Czarlazar Says:

Coric will be a truer test for Nole. It’s possible Lajovic was purposely restraining himself, so it may be premature to get excited. The lopsided score implies that Lajovic, who’s a gritty and capable player, was either injured or trying to be a good friend.


Willow Says:

Lovely very cute picture of Novak ….

Thanks for the about Rafas investment Giles ;-)


RZ Says:

@Willow – the article doesn’t say what exactly the players were asked. It just says they “canvassed the views of some of the game’s all-time greats to assess why Nadal has been in a league of his own on clay courts.” So could have asked questions like “how does your clay game compare to Rafa’s?”


Willow Says:

RZ respectfully disagree, and maybe im reading too much into things, but hes never really been given much credit in his own right without bringing others into the equation, but not to worry lol ….


Humble Rafa Says:

hes not a born leader *ROLLS EYES* ….

Leaders are not born. They are made. By hard work and dedication. like Humble.

I don’t care for recognition. I want to be goatest of all big goats.


j-kath Says:

Hey Willow @ 11.20am

“….good lordie, lassie, anyone wishing for Nadal’s demise will have a long wait ….they’ll be worn out before he is!


Willow Says:

LOL J-Kath hopefully yeah ;-)


BBB Says:

Yay! Djoker won a first-round match!


chofer Says:

I have finally found my moniker for Domi Thiem and his torque-heavy groundstrokes reminiscent of the Musterminator.

I hereby call him Torque-mada.

Let his clay Empire burn all the witches around. But protect his wrists form the infidels.

Amen.


Markus Says:

Sorry to barge in, chofer, but shouldn’t his moniker bear some resemblance to his name? How about Dominatorque instead?


AndyMira Says:

As predicted,Vajda’s presence clearly have a huge & good impact on Nole…the old confidence is back!…And if Nole can perform like he did against Dusan…then we’re going to see one hell of a match!Yeeehaa!!

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