Rafael Nadal is in the running for his tenth title in Monaco. A world record. He is the favorite again this year. Since 2005, only Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka have succeeded in disrupting his streak by winning. Here is a focus on the different contenders for the Monegasque competition.
Rafael Nadal, 30 years old, Spain
It would be impossible to talk about favorites without mentioning the name Rafael Nadal. Nine time winner between 2005 and 2016, the Spaniard started the 2017 season with a bang. In spite of a lost final against Roger Federer in Australia and coming eighth against the same man in Indian Wells, Majorquin said he is close to his best form and this is good news for us. If we include the lost final in Miami, the Spaniard has lost three times against Roger Federer out of his five defeats this season. Why not take advantage of Federer’s absence? Last year, the 30-year-old had won only in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. So will this be the return of King Nadal?
Andy Murray, 29 years old, Great Britain
The current world number one is logically one of the favorites for this tournament. And yet, he never did better than a semi-final. After the start of the season, far from being in line with his ranking (eighth at the Australian Open and second at Indian Wells), it is not clear where to place the Scotsman. A forfeit in Miami due to an elbow injury, Andy Murray arrives in Monaco without making a noise and without really indicating his true level of play.
Novak Djokovic, 29 years old, Serbia
What’s up with Novak Djokvic? Despite a disastrous start to the season, which confirms the decline of the Serbian regime, Novak Djokovic remains Novak Djokovic. He won the title twice in the Principality. On the other hand, questions surround the Serbian. His performances since Roland-Garros are worrisome. What can we expect from the former world champion? Hard to say, apart from a title in Dubai, he has not gone beyond the quarter-finals in any of the tournaments he has played. And a Miami elbow injury (him too) won’t help things.
Stan Wawrinka, 31 years old, Switzerland
He’s quick on any surface (except perhaps grass). A title at Roland Garros and one in Monte-Carlo in 2014 largely make him a dangerous player for Nadal and the others. His capacity to play very far from the bottom line of court thanks to his power is perfectly suited for the battle field. Would it solve his problems of irregularity? In any case, he made a very good start to the season with a semi-final in Australia against Federer then a lost final once again against his compatriot at Indian Wells.
Grigor Dimitrov, 25 years old, Bulgaria
After a long, uneventful period, Grigor Dimitrov is back. A “comeback” which began at the end of last season in Toronto when he reached the quarter finals. Since then, his new association with Daniel Vallverdu (former coach for Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych in particular) seems to be bearing fruit. He has just signed a canon season with two titles (Brisbane and Sofia) and a semi-final in Australia. He had not reached the semifinal stage at the Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2014. The Bulgarian particularly likes Monaco. He shook Nadal in 2013 and reached the quarter finals in 2015. His only black spot this season was a disappointing American tour with only one won game during both tournaments.
Lucas Pouille, 23 years old, France
French hopes have turned quite naturally toward Lucas Pouille since Tsonga lacks rhythm and Monfils has forfeited. The third tricolor was revealed to the general public last season, reaching the quarter finals on Wimbledon’s court and especially thanks to his victory over Rafael Nadal at the US Open. Emmanuel Planque’s protégé had experienced a real surge, but since then, he is having difficulty confirming his new status. After a preparation in Dubai alongside Roger Federer, Lucas Pouille’s results are up and down. A final in Marseille but disappointments at Indian Wells and Miami (a game won at both tournaments). However, his game adapts to the court and his course last year is encouraging. He beat Richard Gasquet before losing to Tsonga in the round of 16.
Alexander Zverev, 19 years old, Germany
Little to reference to at this stage, the young German does not seem pruned to create a feat. And yet, Alexander Zverev is capable of beating anyone: he pushed Rafael Nadal into a fifth set in Australia earlier in the year. That’s why Mischa Zverev’s little brother cut his teeth in the Top 10. He has a title in Montpellier as well as reaching the quarter finals before losing to Nick Kyrgios in Miami.
Dominic Thiem (AUT), 23 years old
One could say that Dominic Thiem is an outsider at every stage, because the Austrian continues to quickly progress and surprise us. Able to beat anyone on any surface, his biggest opponent remains himself. Last year, he mishandled his schedule, leaving little or no room for rest. He blamed a burn-out at the end of the season which explains his lack of results from the month of October. We must be wary of his overheating, but he remains nonetheless threatening with one title this season in Rio.
The Absentees this year are:
Gaël Monfils (11th world player), finalist last year, is the main French player to forfeit (due to an Achilles tendon). Richard Gasquet (22nd) has insufficiently recovered from an operation from appendicitis. Also missing: obviously Roger Federer (4th), who wanted a break after his thundering start to the season, and also Milos Raonic (6th, ischial injury) and Kei Nishikori (7th) who usually skips the Monegasque stage.
Previous victories at Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters:
2016: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2015: Novak Djokovic (Ser)
2014: Stan Wawrinka (Ch)
2013: Novak Djokovic (Ser)
2012: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2011: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2010: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2009: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2008: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2007: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2006: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2005: Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2004: Guillermo Coria (Arg)
2003: Juan-Carlos Ferrero (Esp)
2002: Juan-Carlos Ferrero (Esp)
2001: Gustavo Kuerten (Br)
2000: CédricPioline (Fra)
1999: Kustavo Kuerten (Br)
1998: Carlos Moya (Esp)
1997: Marcelo Rios (Chi)
1996: Thomas Muster (Aut)