The Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters has been one of the most prestigious events in the world of international tennis for over 100 years. Since 2000, the Monte-Carlo tournament has been part of an elite ATP Championship — masters series. It’s where the best tennis players in the world meet on the courts of the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
No one has won a Masters tournament more than ten times and that has only been achieved in Monte-Carlo. Will the indomitable Rafael Nadal make it eleven? The 2018 Rolex Masters is also the much-anticipated year of the Novak Djokovic comeback. He already won an historic victory against Nadal here in 2013, ending Nadal’s eight-win running streak and another victory against Nadal in the 2015 semis where again Novak went home with the trophy.
If Djokovic and Nadal meet in the final in Monte-Carlo in 2018, tennis history is certain to be made. They are head to head with 30 Masters tournament wins each going into the tournament,
the most of any players in history. Thirty-one wins would be an impressive feat. Even the great Roger Federer only has 27 Masters wins. Fresh from his Australian Open victory, Federer is
listed as number two on the ATP lineup. Four times already he has been denied victory at Monte- Carlo, three times by Nadal and once in an all Swiss final by Wawrinka. Will it be Federer to take the trophy this year?
Of course, Djokovic needs to come into the Masters healthy without aggravating the persistent injury to his elbow that hampered him so much in 2017. And Rafael Nadal’s legs need to hold up. So many years on the tennis courts has taken its toll. Federer seems to glide effortlessly and smoothly across the court, but in Nadal one can see the effort. Perhaps 2018 is the year to finally see the so-called «youngsters» come up. If so, surely it will be Dimitrov, Zverev or Thiem. One way or another, there will be a spectacular result — on that we can count. Better still let’s count our winning chips at the Casino. It is after all Monte-Carlo!
Back in 1896, the Monte-Carlo Tournament, likely played behind the Hotel de Paris, was won by an Englishman, George Whiteside Hillyard who also won the mixed doubles with his wife Blanche Bingley, a Wimbledon Champion. The 1897 winner was Reggie Doherty, also of Great Britain, a fourtime Wimbledon champion who went on to win six Monte-Carlo titles before dying in 1910 at the age of just 38.
Year after year, great amateur champions wanted to show their skills and with air travel, the tournament went global. Eventually in 1969, the Open Era began and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters became what it is today. Since then, the tournament has been attended solely by professional players, attracting the sport’s biggest stars to Monte-Carlo.
The Monte-Carlo championship, with Wimbledon, are the oldest running tournaments in the history of the sport, both being the original tennis tournaments on the European continent. Today, it includes 24 teams and 56 individual players. The Rolex Masters tournament is held on the clay courts of the Monte-Carlo Country Club that was founded thanks to the American philanthropist George Butler, a great patron and lover of tennis.
Each year, the winner of the championship receives the prize from one of the members of the princely family. There have always been warm, friendly relations between the Monte-Carlo Country Club and the ruling family. Prince Rainier III, a great tennis admirer, and his wife Grace Kelly supported the development of the club. Prince Rainier’s sister Antoinette was its chaperone for many years until her daughter, Elizabeth-Ann de Massy, took over its presidency.
Prince Albert II of Monaco is also a great fan of the tournament and attends the event as a spectator whenever possible.
The iconic grandstand, Court Prince Rainier III, is designed for 10,200 spectators, but many more watch it on TV, with the event being broadcasted in 66 countries around the world.
Winner takes it all
The prize fund in 2018 amounts to 4,872,105 euros. And the budget is only growing. In 2013 it was just under 3 million euros, while this year it is just shy of 5 million euros! Rolex, the famous Swiss watchmaker, has been the main sponsor and partner of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters for many years.
In the Open Era, Europeans have dominated at Monte-Carlo; China, Russia and the United States have not seen many victories. No American man since Hugh Stewart in 1956 has been victorious here, although several did reach the finals including Mel Purcell (1983), Jimmy Arias (1987), and Aaron Krickstein (1992). And the final with Jimmy Connors and Guillermo Vilas had to be abandoned due to inclement weather. Michael Chang has partnered Prince Albert in doubles to honour the Princess Grace Foundation, so perhaps that counts as a double credit for China and the United States together. Russia has won Monte-Carlo once in recent times — Andrei Chesnokov in 1990. And only one Frenchman has won the title in the Open Era — Cedric Pioline in 2000. The only region to rival the great European players in Monte-Carlo so far is Latin America with the great Guillermo Vilas (seen often nowadays coaching his daughter on the Monte-Carlo clay), and also Alberto Mancini (Argentina), Marcelo Rios (Chile), Guillermo Coria (Argentina), and Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil), all having had the opportunity to raise the trophy. In the stands this year, enthusiastic fans from France, Italy, and Russia in particular will surely be calling for more wins from their countries’ champions.
The 112th Edition
The tournament director, Zeljko Franulovic, has announced the upcoming Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will take place from 14 to 22 April 2018, in the magnificent setting of the Monte-Carlo Country Club, with panoramic views of the sparkling Mediterranean.
Franulovic has made very enthusiastic and optimistic comments about the future of the tournament, including referencing the fact that the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is the first European clay tournament of the prestigious ATP World Tour Masters 1000 category. The event is one of the flagship events in the Principality, one of the «Monaco triple crown» so as to speak; the others being the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Monaco Yacht Show. The Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters is noted as being the event that marks the beginning of the season on the French Riviera.
Franulovic is very pleased with last year’s tournament, due to several record-breaking events. Over and above Nadal’s record-breaking 10th win, he also broke the record with 50 clay-court crown victories, and became number 19 in the world, breaking into the top 20 for the first time. Weather conditions were exceptional for the 2017 edition, and the tournament itself had record-breaking attendance of 135,809 spectators. The director disclosed to HelloMonaco that 2018’s reservations are already up 21 % compared with last year.
This year’s 112th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters kicks off on Friday 13 April with the Main Draw. Numerous events are on the programme, such as «Children’s Day» on 15 April, and the traditional «Grande Nuit du Tennis» on Friday 20 April. And let’s not forget that the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is known for its spectacular pre-event parties. One in particular is the players’ party where many of the ATP pros dress in costume and imitate each other. That is sure to be an entertaining evening! In addition, spectators can enjoy the impressive new facilities coming into fruition from the latest renovation project.