ATP MONTE CARLO PREVIEW: Everyone wants Rafael Nadal's throne ..
Tennis - .. But the Spaniard is ready to defend his title!
With the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, officially begins the second quarter of the season, which will culminate as usual in Paris, in the two weeks of the French Open.
The clay season will certainly be most interesting and fascinating, and of course, the Monte Carlo Masters, for importance, glamour, and history, is one of the most anticipated tournaments of the season.
All participants will compete to take Rafael Nadal's throne, who is the defending champion. However, the Spaniard will defend the title won here in 2016, and he will try to win his tenth trophy, in Monaco.
Let's start with Rafa. Tennis player from Manacor, as seen in this first part of the season, seems to be the natural favorite not only for the Monegasque tournament, but for the entire clay swing. Despite the three finals lost in the first three months of 2017, Rafa has shown a great level of shape, both physical and psychological.
However, it will be crucial to see what his current physical level will be. The surface is the one that best suits his game, and historically, Rafa has always played well in Monte Carlo.
His main opponents will obviously be Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.
The world no. 1 comes from a difficult period. In the last three months, he won only one title (in Dubai), and failed both at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells. In addition, he is currently affected by an injury, which forced him to skip the Miami tournament.
His presence in Monte Carlo is confirmed, although there is still some doubts related to his injury and his physical level. We have to say in the last two years, Andy has improved a lot on this surface. So if he will arrive in Monte Carlo in a good state of shape, he could create problems for anyone.
Djokovic is the real unknown. The Serb comes from nine months of disappointing performances. His results have been below expectations, as well as his mental and physical level. A negative period is normal for a player who dominated tennis in the last two years.
All the doubts that we have been having since January 2017, have not been dispelled yet. There seem to be more mental than physical factors. In Davis Cup, Nole was back at a good level, and if he recovers serenity, and a good physical level, he woul be the natural winner of the tournament.
The ups and downs of Wawrinka, can be life-threatening for anyone. When the Swiss centers the perfect week, he is almost unbeatable. However his discontinuity is a fact to be reckoned with. Among Nadal's challengers Stan seems the most credible, actually.
The great absentees will be Roger Federer, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios and Gael Monfils. Good news for all of their opponents!
The outsiders could be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Dominic Thiem and David Goffin. Each of them will have their chances, and a lot will depend on their psycho-physical level, and on the draw. Tsonga played an excellent first part of season, winning two titles.
He'll come back after a period of rest. If in good condition, he will be a loose cannon. Thiem has already proven to be the future of tennis on red dirt, and Goffin is always dangerous on this surface.
For technical-physical characteristics, clay doesn't suit well players like Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic. We don't believe they can have many chances to win. A few opportunities to play a good tournament for Dimitrov and Nishikori, but the pretenders to the throne of Rafael Nadal are others.