Welcome to watch ATP Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters live Back defending champion and Monte Carlo Rolex Masters extraordinaire Rafael Nadal to capture a record 10th title at the Masters 1000 tournament, starting on Monday April 17.
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With World No. 1 Andy Murray and World No. 2 Novak Djokovic both struggling with form to start the season and coming into the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on the back of respective elbow injuries, (and the resurgent Roger Federer’s absence) the door is open for Rafael Nadal to secure a first title of 2017 and a staggering 10th Monte Carlo crown this week.
Nadal is an entirely different beast on his favourite Monte Carlo clay, and he’s shaping as the strong favourite to emerge with the silverware this week, with Betvictor listing him at odds of 3/1 to take home the title.
Federer’s incredible comeback from injury to win the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami has largely overshadowed Nadal’s own mini-resurgence and comeback from wrist issues, but the Spaniard has been one of the form players over the first quarter of 2017, making the final of the Australian Open, Miami and Acapulco (losing to Federer in the first two) and also falling to his Swiss rival in the Round of 16 at Indian Wells.
Putting it simply, it’s taken Federer playing some of his best tennis to stop Nadal at three of the biggest tournaments to date this season, and with the Swiss great opting out of the majority of the clay season, this could be the time Nadal strikes and really re-asserts his dominance on the dirt.
As always, it will be the usual suspects trying to stop him. Novak Djokovic, who’s also 3/1 to win Monte Carlo with Ladbrokes, returned to action last week from an elbow issue to represent Serbia in the Davis Cup, posting a confidence-boosting straight sets win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Djokovic and Nadal are seeded to meet in the semi-finals, with the Serbian currently enjoying a seven-match winning streak over the Spaniard, including three on clay and one in the Monte Carlo semis two years ago. However Djokovic hasn’t been at his best since Roland Garros last year, while he’s been very shaky to begin 2017, suffering early losses at the Australian Open, Acapulco and Indian Wells to Denis Istomin and Nick Kyrgios. I’m not sure he’s ready to take down the King of Clay in his current, unproven form.
Andy Murray is in the same boat. After such a gruelling end to 2016 which resulted in him securing the No. 1 ranking, Murray hasn’t been playing well this season – a title in Dubai aside where he easily could have lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber. Murray (4/1 with bet365) hasn’t played since an opening loss to qualifier Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells, and while he’s improved his game significantly on clay over the last couple of years, there’s nothing to suggest he’s going to come out firing in Monte Carlo over the next week.
Which is why Stan Wawrinka is looming as the most likely man to potentially take down Nadal and win the title. Wawrinka (8/1 with Betfair) won the Monte Carlo title in 2014 (beating Federer in the final) and has experienced a very solid start to the season, making the Australian Open semi-finals and Indian Wells final (losing to Federer both times). Wawrinka will always be prone to shock early losses however, and that’s the primary reason why you can’t really back him with confidence, especially in his first clay tournament of the season.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (28/1 with Coral), Dominic Thiem (33/1 with Paddy Power), Marin Cilic (50/1 with Boyle Sports), Alexander Zverev (50/1 with Paddy Power), Grigor Dimitrov (66/1 with Betfair), Tomas Berdych (66/1 with Betfair) and David Goffin (80/1 with Paddy Power) are the other leading contenders in Monte Carlo.
But I can’t go past Nadal. A blockbuster third round clash with Alexander Zverev could shape as a pivotal moment for the entire clay court swing, but if Nadal can negotiate that challenge, I think he can ride that momentum all the way to a 10th Monte Carlo Rolex Masters title.
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