Monte Carlo


Are you ready for some dirt balling along the French Riviera? Seems a bit of a contradiction. I have already written much about my opinions of the clay, yet here we are on the eve (play is underway obviously) of the European dirt harvest.

Congrats to Steve Johnson for taking the U.S. Clay Champs last week in Houston.

In the other season opener last week, 20 year-old Borna Coric got his first title in Marrakech.

Look for unpredictability to rule the court in the coming days, hopefully with top guys finding their feet and their Roland Garros form. Of course, I am speaking mainly of Murray and Djokovic.

Djokovic’s draw includes a match against Simon tomorrow (today), Carreno Busta and then Thiem or Goffin with a chance to face the winner of the Nadal/Dimitrov quarter that includes Sascha Zverev who steam-rolled Seppi, and RBA. But, again, it’s clay so anyone can win at anytime.

Seeing Djokovic have to play Thiem and then Nadal could be interesting, if the bracket holds. This should give us a good idea about where Djokovic is following his Davis Cup success. People have brought-up the Serbia 2010 Davis Cup title, the country’s first, as a context for Novak’s amazing 2011 run. Could we see a similar cause-and-effect in 2017?

Murray should face Wawrinka in the top MC SF, but, again, who knows.

monaco-2016-airCertainly, the most interesting subplots here involve Murray, Djokovic and Nadal. Nadal would absolutely love to finally cash-in on his solid start to 2017. Federer has eclipsed the Spaniard’s incredible early season form. A win would mean a lot as he prepares for Paris.

Djokovic has everything to lose on the clay, in my humble opinion. He has to get his game together. Between the three big clay tournaments prior to Paris, he should be able to find some confidence, but that means he has to start finding some confidence.

Surely you do not follow me on Twitter, but I did recently point-out there that Djokovic recently said he has not been at his best. This flies in the face of the Djokovic fan club saying his form was back but he was simply the victim of outrageously difficult draws. I detailed some of my exchanges with fans here on this blog, trying to clarify this reality for them; hopefully his own admission helped clear things up. He has not been very solid since Paris last year (he did win Toronto, however). Again, Doha was ugly and the rest of 2017 has been an extension of the second half of 2016.

After the clay, he will have Federer, Murray, Wawrinka, Zverev and Kyrgios, et al at the top to deal with. A victory in Paris would be just what the doctor ordered for the Serb. We shall see, starting with some of these early matches with the likes of Simon, a potentially dangerous Spaniard and possibly Thiem before the stakes steepen in MC.

Murray is another question mark. We need to see some tennis before too much is said. The clay, I suspect, will help Murray find his form, giving him more than enough time to camp along the BL and use that solid defensive tennis of his.


6 thoughts on “Monte Carlo

  1. Caligula

    I completely agree that Slowak is the one who has the most to prove on clay, it will be tough for him to defend this year’s FO if not impossible.

    I didn’t know Murray was going to play Monte Carlo, but I hope he is fit. The tennis gods know the tour needs as many in-form players as it can get. No Kyrgios though which is a shame as he played some fantastic tennis in the last two months.

    Looking forward to seeing this unfold. I know the fangirls will no doubt be paying close attention to Slowak’s form, I am kind of partial to Nadal seeing as he is my favourite clay-court player of all time I want him to find success again on his strongest surface. And he must act on his strengths lest he should suffer humiliating defeats yet again.


  2. I’m interested to see if Novak has got his form back…we haven’t seen it in about a year. I’m of course rooting for Nadal to take this one to the end. Please please please!!


  3. wilfried

    Hi Matt,
    I was lucky to be able to watch Djokovic’ss second round match against Gilles Simon.
    As you probably know better than me, Simon is, like Djokovic, an excellent defender and counter puncher, and therefore a very tough customor to deal with when he is fit.
    So, no complete surprise here, today it was a very tight contest that went the distance, with Simon – in the final set – even taking the lead twice (breaking Djokovic service game) , only to be broken back right away.
    Both players displayed great athletism and exquisite balance in covering the baseline when executing shots on the full stretch, with Djokovic taking a bit more initiative in the points by mixing up his shots (psace, spin, angle, etc…).
    A third set tiebreak would have been a fitting conclusion to this match I think, but it ended a bit abrupt for Simon : 7-5 – who did not have too much luck in the very last game of the match.
    Insofar that Djokovic still made a bit too many unforced errors in the second set (which allowed the Frenchman to creep into the match) his overall level could be quailified as ‘good’, but may not be so far away from his best I think.
    I noticed though that he did some massage on his arm, as his right elbow seemed to bother him a bit at that stage of the match.
    Whatever the case may have been, it was for Djokovic, no question about it, a supreme mental test as well as a physical one, from which he can only benefit in the upcoming matches (barring injury).


  4. In my opinion Djokovic hasnt been in good form other than that no one can doubt the ability that he has and what form he used to be in winning almost every tournament. The French Open will be interesting, younger lot wanting to cement their place, Roger playing as good as ever and Nadal trying to claim the title for a record number of time. Great time to be a tennis fan…


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