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Monte Carlo Masters 2019: Rafael Nadal, Preview and Prediction

ANALYST
Preview
13 Apr 2019, 11:05 IST

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

After an underwhelming season so far, Rafael Nadal sets out to resurrect his season with a dominant display at Monte Carlo Masters. He is an eleven-time champion here and is looking for a fourth consecutive title here.

He has given his body enough rest by skipping Miami and is expected to be at his absolute best on his favorite surface. Here is a look at his projected path to the final.

After a bye in the first round, he will meet either Roberto Bautista Agut or John Millman. Both are tenacious players, but neither is expected to pose any major threat to Nadal. At best, we may see one competitive set. More likely, there will be a rout.

In the third round, he is likely to face the Canadian next-gen star, Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian has won one out of the two matches he has played against the Spaniard. But in their only clay court match, at last year’s Rome masters, it was an easy victory for Nadal. It is unlikely the result will be any different this time around, in their second clay court match.

If one goes by the rankings, Marin Cilic could be the likely quarter-final opponent for Nadal. The two have played each other eight times and Nadal dominates the rivalry, with a 6-2 head to head record. Expectedly, Nadal has won their only clay court encounter.

Cilic has not really been a dominant player on clay. So, it is likely that someone else may actually come from that quarter of the draw to the quarter-final. One possible contender could be a resurgent Stan Wawrinka. He is a former champion here.

And though he has a lackluster head to head record against Nadal, he has at least managed to win one on clay, and if he plays the kind of top-level tennis that has seen him win three grand slams, then there is some chance of a competitive encounter. But it is unlikely he would be able to eke out a win!

ATP Masters Series: 2018 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters
ATP Masters Series: 2018 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters

Last year’s finalist, Kei Nishikori could be Nadal’s semi-final opponent this time. Though the Japanese has had two wins against Nadal in his career, he is yet to win a match on clay after four losses. But he has the game to make life difficult for Nadal. Another possible semi-final contender from that side of the draw is Alexander Zverev who is going through a rough patch this season. He has yet to win a match against Nadal in five attempts, and he is unlikely to do that here.

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The world number one Novak Djokovic who has surprisingly endured a loss of form after his Australian triumph would look at the Monte Carlo Masters to get his season back on track. The prospect of facing Nadal on his favorite surface and getting the better of him must be an added motivation for the Spaniard.

Though Nadal is the undisputed king of clay, Djokovic is an excellent clay courter himself. He has won seven matches on clay against Nadal and would like to add to that number in a tournament that he has won twice himself.

Dominic Thiem, considered by many as the next great clay courter after Nadal is another possible contender for a spot in the final.

Thiem and Nadal have met each other eleven times, out of which ten have been on clay. Thiem has managed to win three of them, and if they meet in the final, it will be a mouth-watering clash between the master and the apprentice.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win Title no. 12 at Monte Carlo Masters

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