Novak Djokovic Opens Clay Campaign Tuesday In Monte Carlo; Gulbis Wins One Game
by Staff | April 13th, 2015, 11:00 pm

With an eye toward winning the French Ope, Novak Djokovic opens his 2015 clay season Tuesday in Monte Carlo. The World No. 1, who has won his last 16 Masters 1000 matches, will take on qualifier Alberto Ramos-Vinolas in the second round at the tournament he won in 2013.

Also in action are French favorites Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. David Ferrer is also on court along with US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are expected in second round play on Wednesday.

Earlier Monday, Ernests Gulbis continued his spiral. The 2014 French Open semifinalist managed just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Andreas Haider-Maurer in the first round.

The 17th-ranked Gulbis is now just 1-8 on the year. Since beating Federer and Tomas Berdych back-to-back in Paris, Gulbis has just three wins over Top 50 players, none since beating No. 49 Seppi last fall in Moscow.

He comes to Monte Carlo working with new coach Tomas Enqvist.

“In practice I played very well,” the 26-year-old Gulbis said. “I’m lacking confidence now on the court for the match. I was in a great state of mind this week practising. Every change is a good change. With Thomas, it was a really positive environment on the court. He gave me a boost. He pushed me. Everything was really good, except the match. This past hour was bad in Monte Carlo. All the rest of the week was really unbelievable.”

Roberto Bautista Agut, Fabio Fognini, John Isner and Alexandr Dolgopolov who beat Borna Coric were among the Monday winners and the first Masters clay event of the year.


COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
[14] [WC] G. Monfils (FRA) vs [Q] A. Kuznetsov (RUS)
[11] J. Tsonga (FRA) vs [LL] J. Struff (GER)
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
V. Estrella Burgos (DOM) vs [5] D. Ferrer (ESP)

COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
D. Thiem (AUT) vs [WC] L. Pouille (FRA)
[16] T. Robredo (ESP) vs A. Seppi (ITA)
F. Verdasco (ESP) vs [9] G. Dimitrov (BUL)
[PR] F. Mayer (GER) vs [8] M. Cilic (CRO)

You Might Like:
Rafael Nadal Will Drop Out Of The Top 4; He Could Now Meet Novak Djokovic In the French QFs!
Short On Confidence, Rafael Nadal Begins Clay Campaign In Monte Carlo [Video]
Tsonga, Del Potro In Action Tuesday At Monte Carclo; Houston Champ Isner Gets Gulbis
Federer Opens Clay Campaign v. Gulbis in Rome; Djokovic, Murray Also in Action
Nadal’s Clay Campaign Shifts To Spain, Murray Wins; Wozniacki Faces Jankovic In Stuttgart

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

19 Comments for Novak Djokovic Opens Clay Campaign Tuesday In Monte Carlo; Gulbis Wins One Game

RZ Says:

Time for Mama Gulbis to suggest that Ernie quits tennis. That’ll get him rolling again.

jane Says:

lol, rz.

la monf had on quite the kit today! i kind of liked it, but definitely busy.

RZ Says:

@Jane – just looked up Monfils pic from today’s match and agreed, quite a kit! Very busy.

sienna Says:

YAHOO HC Goat is back winning matches.

mat4 Says:

Since the big three are not the only one to play tennis, let’s have a look at the results:

– Gulbis lost pretty tamely against Haider-Maurer, but the Austrian won against Tomic in three sets. Andreas seems to come out of nowhere, but he is ranked 52, and his results, this year, are very good: he is ranked 24 at the Race. A foot soldier who could make a surprise. On the other side, Tomic won against Rosol, but lost a close match against HM. We know that Tomic can do better, but he seems to excel when 4k and Kyrgios play in the same tournament. Go figure.

– Ramos Vinolas is a good lefty, and he seems to slowly mature as a player. He needs a better serve, but his FH is good and he has a well rounded game.

– Cilic won against a player coming too from injury, Florian Mayer. It also looks as Youzhny can’t win a match any more at 32. His last solid result was Zagreb this year, where he beat Stakhovsky and Kavcic. I feel a bit sad, I like the Russian.

– The surprise, here, seems to be Lucas Pouille. I didn’t expect him to beat Thiem on clay. So, Rafa will probably have to play big servers in his first two matches, since the other pair in his tree is Isner-Troicki, two players ranked 13 and 14 at the race.

Troicki so far has an excellent season, and his sparring with Novak has effects. But he basically remains the “one shot” player, the reactive player. He does a lot of things well, but nothing outstanding. And he often plays without a plan. Isner could be a much greater danger for Rafa, and I guess he will beat Viktor and give Rafa a run for his money.

– David Goffin seems to play well too. He is an intelligent player and clay could be a good surface for him. He lacks a bit of power, and his serve is a liability. With a better second serve and some work on his physique, he could make the top ten IMHO. He lost against Nishikori on power and experience in… in don’t know where. Here, I expect him to make two suprises: against JWT and Cilic and have a great run.

– Dimitrov played a good match against Verdasco. He seems to find his rhythm, finally.

– Monfils-Dolgopolov could be an entertaining match. I hope that Gael will play like he did at the DC, when he can beat anybody in his half. Very unlikely, though.

jalep Says:

Why even mention Gulbis.

mat4 Says:


Gulbis probably waits to fall out of the top 100 to start playing well again and win a match.

jalep Says:

Thanks to Haider-Maurer for taking out both Gulbis and Tomic! @mat4.

I thought the most competitive match Monday was Coric-Dogopolov. Today it was Verdasco-Dimitrov…but both were up and down.

Nole playes well. Cilic…was rusty but luckily so was Florian Mayer.

jane Says:

“Monfils-Dolgopolov could be an entertaining match” indeed mat4; that’s one i’d like to see. thanks for the recaps!

jalep Says:

My pick for tomorrow would be Fognini-Dimitrov. And I like Lukas Pouille too but unfortunately he faces Rafa.

Maybe Chardy will be lucky again tomorrow.

mat4 Says:

I travel tomorrow, so I won’t be posting until Sunday, nor watching tennis, probably. But the Novak=Rafa semi, if it happens (I believe that Rafa could have a hard time against Isner, and Novak against whoever he plays in the QF), will be revealing.

A win will mean a lot to both players.

jane Says:

take care mat4; safe travels.

mat4 Says:


I travel very often, on average every second week. But I don’t see much of the countries I travel, unfortunately.

mat4 Says:

I guess I could offer you a sad poem. Cesare Pavese, a beautiful poem I never forgot.

Death will come and will have your eyes—
this death that accompanies us
from morning till evening, unsleeping,
deaf, like an old remorse
or an absurd vice. Your eyes
will be a useless word,
a suppressed cry, a silence.
That’s what you see each morning
when alone with yourself you lean
toward the mirror. O precious hope,
that day we too will know
that you are life and you are nothingness.

Yolita Says:

I loved your analysis of the players, mat4, very good post.
Safe journey. Will you be back in time to see the final?

jane Says:

mat4, that is beautiful, thank you.
hold onto the “precious hope” :)

mat4 Says:


I hope so. But it is the semi that interest me.

Novak has been steadily working on his game for months. We saw glimpses of that game in the semi of Dubai, against Berdych, than in the first set of the IW final, a set here, another there,

But it is time for him to play that game for a whole match: the serve has to click above 65%, the flat FH has to bite, the IO FH has to be more efficient, and the BH has to be efficient as it was.

Usually, clay is the best part of the season for a player to find his range. It is time for Novak to switch finally to this new game of his, to put all the pieces together.

If he manages to do this, something that is not certain, he will probably last years and remain at the top. And it is the only way to beat Rafa regularly, to make a major step.

mat4 Says:


It sounds better in Italian or French. So sorry. Find Paveze in Italian and read it loudly.

Here you have Leo Ferré singing that poem in Italian, Verrà la morte.

Top story: Djokovic Impressed By Sinner's Professionalism