Nadal, Djokovic Open Clay Court Season In Monte Carlo
by Sean Randall | April 13th, 2019, 11:18 am

The clay court season begins in earnest next week in Monte Carlo with the return of Rafael Nadal and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

While Rafa is again the big story of the clay season, the second biggest is Roger Federer who will be back on the dirt in a few weeks in Madrid after skipping Monte Carlo. Roger’s never won Monte (0-4 in finals) and after a busy March, he needs some extra rest. Plus, Monte is a loaded field with 15 of the Top 20 scheduled. After not playing on the stuff for a few years, you are going to want to be sharp as possible against that deep of a field.

Looking at the draw, there really are no easy roads. Though, at the, Rafa’s probably going to get a dozen here.

As Djokovic tries to get back on track after a maddening March, the going will be tough on the clay. In his opener, the 2-time champ could face Phil Kohlschreiber, who just beat Djokovic last month, then a date with Diego Schwartzman with either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas next. I think the Greek is better on this surface, so I’ll take him to face Djokovic, but Novak gets through. JW Tsonga, who opens against lone American entrant Taylor Fritz, also lurks. He’s in the semifinals today in Morocco so good to see him healthy and getting back into form.
The Pick: Djokovic

Indian Wells champ Dominic Thiem has to like his chances at the first Masters clay stop. The Austrian looks to have a very friendly draw with his buddy David Goffin the only real threat before the quarters. And in the final eight, it should be Karen Khachanov who also has a nice road, though the Russian hasn’t been right since winning Paris at the end of 2018. So I’m going to lean with the Massu-led Thiem who should welcome a return to clay. It’s his best surface, he’ll have more seasoning with Massu and of course the confidence of that big win over Federer at Indian Wells.
The Pick: Thiem

After crashing out of Marrakech, Alexander Zverev better start putting up some results, and fast. The German is set to defend a heap of points with Monte Carlo SF, titles in Madrid and Munich and a Rome final. If he falls early at all of them, he’ll drop out of the Top 7. So as far as ranking pressure, this is the most he’s faced in his young career. And when faced with pressure, he hasn’t lived up to the mark. And it’s going to tough in Monte. He could open against the new star and wildcard, Felix Auger-Aliassime, then clay veteran Fabio Fognini with, I think, Borna Coric, in the quarters. If Fognini doesn’t get him, I think Coric does, though the Croat will have his hands full with Hubert Hurkacz to start, then Nishikori who made the finals last year.
The Pick: Coric

The King of Clay will bid for a 12th Monte Carlo title – many players are lucky just to have 12 total titles in their career! And once again Rafa’s probably going to be the favorite in every clay match this spring, and deservedly so. If the knee is OK, which it appears is the case, he’s going to win here, but it shouldn’t be easy. He’ll have his countryman Roberto Bautista Agut, then hopefully Denis Shapovalov with Marin Cilic in the quarters. RBA is decent, though clay isn’t his best surface and same for Shapo. Maybe Grigor Dimitrov, who’s been having shoulder issues, emerges. But if Lucas Pouille or Stan Wawrinka, who square off in the opening round, can get out to the quarters, then that match could get a little trickier. Otherwise, I do think Rafa gets tested but he’ll roll in the end.
The Pick: Nadal

Thiem d Djokovic: He beat Roger at Indian Wells, so why not a struggling Djokovic on his favorite surface?
Nadal d Coric: Should be one-way traffic.

Nadal d Thiem: I don’t know what “12” slogan they’ll have for Rafa, but they’ll think of something I’m sure.

So it’s an interesting start to the clay season with many stories to follow. How’s Rafa’s knee? Is Djokovic right now? Can Zverev back-up his great 2018 campaign and is he still the best of the NextGen? Will Federer watch knowing he’ll have to face some of these guys on this surface next month?

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17 Comments for Nadal, Djokovic Open Clay Court Season In Monte Carlo

King Billy Says:

Agree with all, but I think Thiem D Nadal – Nadal needs a few more matches, as he is.

John Says:

Rafa is in a league of his own when it comes to the clay.He is almost unbeatable!!!

Colin Says:

Sean, would you clarify your last sentence please? There seems to be a word missing.

Wog Boy Says:

Here is the GOAT, it’s she, retired two days ago, 1462 days unbeaten, 43 starts, 37 wins, 33 consecutive wins, 25 group 1 wins, invested $230K in her and return is over $26 million.
She is looking for her first boyfriend now, wish her green pastures, best ever in the world, enjoy her last showing Royal Randwick two days ago:

She didn’t need spiritual enlightenment (though, she is a vegan), just a good old fashioned Kiwi coach Chris Waller and good Aussie hitting partner Hugh Bowman..on the other thought, she enlightenment herself for those who want to see.

autoFilter Says:


“[Esther] Vergeer has won 162 singles and 134 doubles titles at international tournaments. Her overall record is 695 wins and 25 losses in singles, and 441 wins and 35 losses in doubles.[5] In singles, she has won 21 Grand Slam, 14 year-end championship, and 4 Paralympic titles while in doubles she has shared 21 Grand Slam, 9 year-end, and 3 Paralympic titles. She has also been part of the Dutch team that has won 14 World Team Cups.

“From 31 March 2001 until her retirement in 2013, Vergeer lost only one singles match (on 30 January 2003 at the Sydney International to Daniela Di Toro from Australia), winning 559 of her last 560 matches. Between August 2004 and October 2006 she even won 250 consecutive sets, only one of which ended with a tiebreaker. After her final tournament, when she won the Paralympic gold medal in September 2012, Vergeer had extended her winning streak to 470 matches.”

Michael Says:

No one can stop Rafa on Clay except for Novak. If the latter makes it to the finals then anything can happen ? Novak has beat Rafa seven times on clay before, including Monte Carlo, and they had many knife-edge contests too on the surface. So to make this clay court season interesting and intriguing, let us pray for more Rafa Vs Novak face offs.

Alison Hodge Says:

^ No lets not ^ ….

j-kath Says:

Alison – Love your wit!
PS: Where did Willow go?

Alison Hodge Says:

J lol just a flying visit , and just wanted to post this too , Fernando Verdasco and partner have become parents, congratulations to the happy couple and their little bundle xx

j-kath Says:

Alison: It’s good to be occasionally neighbourly – am also somewhat operating in that mode. PS: Don’t use Facebook.

Daniel Says:

Djoko serving for the match third set. Touch drop shot. 2 points away
topsy turvy match where he was a bit grumpy in patches. But a great test overall. Hope he builds on it.

Alison Hodge Says:

Sorry J-Kath i wasnt aware you needed an account on FB to gain access to the link my apologies, looked for a link on you tube, but cant find anything, anyway Dacso is a dad, babies gorgeous, about Willow ended that monikor along with my blogging here on TX, over and out take care ….

j-kath Says:

Alison: Just for your info. One can gain access to FB whether a member/account or not – but there’s no privacy…and I’m a bit paranoid about that given my personal circumstances etc.

Alison Hodge Says:

J-Kath yeah it can be a funny place at times, i can understand, i got into it through my pagan friends , its a great way to keep in contact with all of them outside the camps, still chat to Okie there too, and Andi-Mira was a FB friend till recently when i severed ties there, but there can be alot of scammers and hackers, im very careful who i have as friends on there, take care ….

j-kath Says:

Good of U to reply Alison, and good U keep in touch with Okie – give her my “bestest”. Sorrie U and A-M are not in contact.

Alison Hodge Says:

J-Kath no biggie hun ….

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