Located at the beautiful Monte-Carlo Country Club, the first clay Masters 1000 event of the season will kick off in Monaco on Monday, in what will be the 112th edition of the event that started way back in 1897! It became a part of the Open era in 1969 and it stayed on the calendar ever since, standing as one of the most favorite tournaments among the players. Tom Okker was the first champion in the new era, followed by Ilie Nastase, Manuel Orantes, Guillermo Vilas, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl, Thomas Muster, Carlos Moya, Gustavo Kuerten, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.
As we all know, Rafael Nadal is by far the most prominent figure of this prestigious tournament, winning 10 titles between 2005-2017 and standing as the top favorite in 2018 edition as well. World number 1 would seek his first title since Beijing in what will be only his second ATP tournament of the season, heading to Monte Carlo after two Davis Cup wins over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev.
Rafa opens his campaign against Aljaz Bedene or a qualifier and the third round rival comes from a group of Gilles Simon, Adrian Mannarino, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Karen Khachanov. Things should get tricky for the 10-time champion in the quarters, with Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric or Andrey Rublev standing as his possible rivals.
Nadal has lost just four matches in Monte Carlo and two defeats came against a former champion Novak Djokovic, who will try to shape up his form after poor runs in Indian Wells and Miami. It will not be easy since he has to play against Borna Coric in the second round and them versus Dominic Thiem in the third, not an easy task for a player who won just three matches so far in 2018.
The second quarter is highlighted by Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, Roberto Bautista Agut and the last year's finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas, but there's a room for some surprises as none of them is in a good form at the moment.
Players like Filip Krajinovic, Benoit Paire and Philipp Kohlschreiber will try to make a deep run and it should be interesting to see who would reach the semis from there. Lucas Pouille is the 7th seed and he should play the first match against the super talented Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, the youngest player in the draw.
Richard Gasquet and Diego Schwartzman could meet in the second round as well, and some of them will face Alexander Zverev or Fabio Fognini in the quarters. Zverev has a solid draw and he should continue where he left in Miami, aiming to overcome a slow start of the season and get back to the winning way just like the last spring and summer.
In one of the most attractive first round encounters, Tomas Berdych plays against Kei Nishikori and the winner of that one draws Kyle Edmund or Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round. Marin Cilic kicks off his campaign with a tricky second round clash against Fernando Verdasco or Pablo Cuevas, with Milos Raonic or Damir Dzumhur waiting in round three. Full draw: