What a brilliant start for the Serb!
The highlights weren’t terribly impressive, but the stroke seems to be returning, the serve looks much better, and body language, in general, much improved.
The fact that he has the capacity (mental, physical) to open-up shop in Monte Carlo and produce some bakery goods like that has to be applauded. Bravo!
Work backwards with me here: if he reaches the QF to play Nadal, we have tremendous early clay theater with a lot on the line. A lot. Indeed, I got way ahead of myself there. That will mean that Novak beat, likely, Dom Thiem in R16. Ha! Imagine the tension building around that match with Nadal up next. But, of course, for Novak to even get to a date with Thiem, he will have beaten IW and MI star Borna Coric.
If Novak does meet Nadal, that means he’s finding some real form and Marian Vajda holds the key to the castle.
What a draw! Good job, ATP!
Sure there’s two sides to this coin. The draw is brutal, but why not test the former #1 here and now. He can beat Coric unless the confident Croat is still flying pretty high and really a Thiem match on clay would be enough to satisfy most of our appetites.
But Novak and Nadal would be too good, especially if the Serb can represent.
But he has some work to do, much of it in the department of confidence.
Speaking of representing, I read somewhere that Nadal threw a little shade at Federer with regards to the Swiss’ clay MIA. I suspect he was goaded into that sort of exchange by a reporter. Or he was being coy or just conversational (not controversial: in fact I think one translation was that Federer skipping the entirety of clay was “controversial”).
This, from a guy who skipped February and March. Nadal is a comedian.
Stay-tuned as things are about to start heating-up in Monte Carlo, even for the Spaniard I suspect. He has to be excited to defend and build that insurmountable confidence for Roland Garros, but the pressure can’t be denied. Especially if Novak starts to go back to the buffet for 2nds and 3rds.
Speaking of Croatians, much interest in the kind of form Cilic can find in Monte Carlo, sitting at #3 in the world, a 2017 FO QF to consolidate. Other than Rafa, the draw should be wide-open and everyone’s going to be tested here on the clay, really no cup-cakes, no easy matches.
And what is with all of the picks for Pouille to reach the final. I’ve seen this from a few of our sport’s bigger syndicates. Really? Good luck with that.
A few more media tidbits (okay from camp Novak) from our lovely Twitter landscape (I hear the brains behind that social mess of an operation feel fairly humbled, perhaps embarrassed by what’s become of their once inventive space) but I digress: