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 2017 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

Welcome to royalty—not just tennis royalty, like actual royalty.

This week, the tennis world makes its annual visit to the Monaco principality, that tiny city-state on France’s Mediterranean coastline that you hear about every time the topic of luxury and money and prestige, and etc., come up, well that’s where we are this week.

For our money, and with all apologies to folks at Wimbledon and their beliefs in their own tradition and importance, the single most incredible setting on the tennis calendar is always the Monte-Carlo Masters. We’ve never been to either, and don’t particularly have a ton of money to remedy that, but at least with Wimbledon we can foresee a scenario where we could afford the visit. Monaco? Not even close.

In any case, enough with the personal life testimonies, let’s move forward with our draw analysis and preview for this 2017 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Rafael Nadal is ready, are you?

Main draw

Quick, think fast: which of Andy Murray’s Monte-Carlo career titles has been your favourite one? This is a trick question, as the Englishman has as many titles in Monaco as you and I do. In light of that, you could think that Murray might be a favourite in name only. Still, we’ll give him the nod here. We anticipate a highly motivated Murray in Monte-Carlo, given that it’s one of the last prestige events on the calendar before he has to repeat his sizzling 2016 run or risk losing about a kajillion points. We see him taking care of things over Borna Coric in the quarterfinals.

Stanislas Wawrinka has been playing great tennis so far this season and had he managed to avoid Roger Federer at the Australian Open or Indian Wells semifinals, he might have had the year’s two biggest titles to date to show for it. No danger of that happening in Monaco, with Federer off, so we see great things for the Swiss Guy. The latter half of this section is rather lukewarm, so we’ll give the nod to Lucas Pouille as the proverbial sacrificial lamb in the quarterfinals.

This Monte-Carlo Masters might be where the Nadal comeback gravy train leaves the station for real. Lest we forget, but for the Spaniard before there was Roland Garros there was Monte-Carlo; this season, Nadal will vie for a 10th career title in Monaco, a truly mind boggling number. Let’s give it to him, and let’s give him the nod over Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters since we really don’t know who else might emerge from this draw. Against Nadal on clay, the identity of the opponent traditionally hasn’t mattered.

If we were among the group of Novak Djokovic fans—and we are but let’s pretend to stay objective here for a minute—what would be most alarming isn’t his dip in form per se but mostly that he’s been roughly irrelevant to happenings at the year’s most prestigious events with just second- and third-round defeats at the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open. He’s been fighting injuries, etc. etc., yes, but even when he’s played he hasn’t been good enough. Maybe the turnaround starts this week? David Goffin in the quarterfinals would be a good test for this.

Quarterfinals: Andy Murray over Borna Coric; Stanislas Wawrinka over Lucas Pouille; Rafael Nadal over Grigor Dimitrov; Novak Djokovic over David Goffin

Semifinals: Andy Murray over Stanislas Wawrinka; Rafael Nadal over Novak Djokovic

Final: Rafael Nadal over Andy Murray

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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