Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon reviews the 2017 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

Rafael Nadal ran away with another clay court title at the 2017 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

This, if we’re being totally honest, should have been expected at the start of the event—and in many ways it was. Facing his countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final, the Spaniard wasted precious little time and won a 10th career title in the Monaco principality. “I think after a lot of years of experience on this tour, you learn how to enjoy every moment,” Nadal said. “Today is a day to enjoy.”

Indeed, as he has quite a long list of things to enjoy today:

  • First man to win 10 titles at a single event
  • First man to win 50 titles on clay, surpassing Guillermo Vilas at 49
  • Winning 70th tour-level title of his career, good for fifth best of all time
  • Winning 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, good for second most ever

…How was your Sunday, amirite?!

If anyone still had any doubts as to whether Nadal’s strong start to the season was just a mirage, well please take that smug off your face because it sure as hell doesn’t appear to be. At the very least, the clay court season is not where we’re likely to see a dip in form, and a lack of results, from Nadal. He’s back, motivated and in form.

What other lessons can be gleaned from this year’s Monte-Carlo results?

Seeded players had a tough going in Monaco.

Not at first, of course, that’s what the fine readers will say, like “Hey we don’t pay you the big bucks for such analysis.” No of course at first, only three of the players to make the third round were unseeded. That much is true, yes, but so is the fact that the favorites other than Nadal basically disappointed in Monte-Carlo. Just look at the quarterfinals, which pitted Ramos-Vilonas (15) and Marin Cilic (5), Pablo Cuevas (16) and Lucas Pouille (11), unseeded Diego Schwartzman and Nadal (4), and David Goffin (10) and Novak Djokovic (2).

A favourite in name only.

As we had anticipated, Andy Murray didn’t do all that much in Monte-Carlo: one match win against Gilles Muller followed by a defeat against eventual finalist Ramos-Vilonas. You ask, “Who?”, and that’s the point. This draw was right there for the taking for Murray, but no matter: Murray did as he’s usually done in Monaco, which is not all that much.

What’s wrong with Novak Djokovic now?

Well, what is it now? The Serb was not at full strength and hasn’t been so since the start of the 2017 season, but he was healthy enough to compete in Monaco. The way the draw had been set, Djokovic would need to ace one test before facing Nadal in the semifinals, a likely match against David Goffin. While on paper that looks a little daunting, the fact remains that the 26-year-old would enter the match looking for his first ever win over a top 3 player.

Well, now Goffin has that first win and, though he lost the next round against Nadal, things are looking up for him. Djokovic, meanwhile, is left looking at answers and once more wondering what might have been.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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