Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
Welcome to Monaco for what is, every single year, a thrilling and gorgeous event on the men’s tennis calendar.
Every year the ATP World Tour sorta says, “Hmm let’s head to this gorgeous place on the side of a little mountain and right by the water, this gorgeous place where a ton of our players reside anyway so it doesn’t make a difference for them, let’s head there yes and let’s host a wonderful tennis tournament on clay that helps Rafael Nadal add to his career title tally.”
(We tease you because we love you, Nadal!)
But seriously, behold the beautiful administrative place that is Monte Carlo.
After a handful of relatively quiet few weeks in the tennis universe, it feels good to be back at it: now that Monte-Carlo is here, we can rest easy knowing that tennis really doesn’t stop more than a week or two at a time from now until, like, the end of the US Open in September?
Yikes, buckle up kids.
As has become typical, we’ll do our best today to analyze the main draw of this given event and throw out predictions as to how it might all unfold. As has also become typical, we will surely be wrong about most of the stuff.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
They’ll say that Novak Djokovic has been dealt quite a formidable section here in Monaco and for the most part, this is pretty true with likely matches against Philipp Kohlschreiber, Kyle Edmund and Stefanos Tsitsipas if he wants to make the quarterfinals. Considering how little he seems to want to push himself unless the event is a Grand Slam—his recent form will either tell you this or that he’s back to struggling again, depending on probably you allegiance to the man—we say that the Serb probably doesn’t make it past the final 8 and that it’s totally okay.
In the second section of the draw, we have favourite Dominic Thiem who’ll want to start his defence of a French Open final berth with a strong result here in Monte-Carlo. But really, we’re most excited to see where and how Karen Khachanov plays. A quarterfinal between Thiem and the towering Russian would be quite the match.
The lower half of the draw has Kei Nishikori as favourite of the upper section, but he should be no match for the Serb Borna Coric, who seems to have finally put it all together. (He’s also been healthy, which helps a ton.) Still, we can’t wait to see if Felix Auger-Aliassime keeps up his assault on the men’s tour now that the season has turned to clay.
Meanwhile, they’ll want to tell you that Rafael Nadal has also been put in a tough section, but that’s nonsense: this is clay we’re talking about here, and the Monte-Carlo clay at that. Lest we forget, the Spaniard has won Monte-Carlo a whopping 11 times, which kind of makes it feel like hoisting this trophy is his birthright. There was a pretty great first-round match between Stanislas Wawrinka and Lucas Pouille with the Swiss emerging victorious, I guess, but yeah this section is all Nadal.
Quarterfinals: Stefanos Tsitsipas over Novak Djokovic; Karen Khachanov over Dominic Thiem; Alexander Zverev over Borna Coric; Rafael Nadal over Marco Cecchinato
Semifinals: Stefanos Tsitsipas over Karen Khachanov; Rafael Nadal over Alexander Zverev
Final: Rafael Nadal over Stefanos Tsitsipas
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG