Clay swing 2018 is finally started! The first important appointment is the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, one of the most fascinating, historical and glamorous tournaments of the tennis season. Without making too many turns of words, we can say that the candidate for the final victory is Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard, the defending champion, is looking for his 11th title in the Principality of Monaco. What we have seen in the Davis Cup, especially in the match against Alexander Zverev, leave little doubts about his form. Meanwhile, Nadal has to make his way through the draw which will have either Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem as his opponent in the quarter-final.
The Serb is a distant relative of the admired champion we have seen until two years ago and Thiem has not yet fully recovered from his ankle injury, so could they stand up to Nadal? Moving on, Grigor Dimitrov or David Goffin could face Nadal in the semi-final.
Goffin, too, is making a comeback of sorts from the eye-injury which affected him unexpectedly. The Bulgarian has a lot to live up to. Can he finally cause the upset? In the bottom-half, Alexander Zverev could face Fabio Fognini in the third round, and one of Lucas Pouille or Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals.
Second seed Marin Cilic could meet Milos Raonic in the third round, but both are not comfortable on this surface. Fognini and Pouille are playing a good tennis, as they showed in the Davis Cup.
They seem to be in form and they could be the possible surprises. The fantastic and glamorous setting of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters adds to the intrigue of the draw. There is obviousness of Nadal dominating, but could there be traps too? We will find out.
Winner: Rafael Nadal
Possible final: Nadal vs. Alexander Zverev
Possible surprise: David Goffin, Lucas Pouille, Fabio Fognini. ALSO READ: Will the clay swing be predictable in its outcome? .