Novak Djokovic begins his campaign in Cincinnati once more as the favourite despite winning just one Masters 1000 event to date this year. More importantly, this is the one Masters event that Djokovic has yet to win – despite making the final a total of four times.
He was expected to defend his title in Canada last year but was undone by an outstanding performance by Rafael Nadal in the semi-final. He will be hoping to kick off in style against Juan Monaco.
He holds an outstanding record against the Argentinian, having defeated Monaco on all seven occasions they have met including twice on hard courts – Miami 2012 and US Open 2007. If Monaco was to win, he would become the third player outside the top 10 to defeat Djokovic this year after Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov.
Monaco’s season to date has been up and down. Prior to his first match of the US Open Series where he defeated Jurgen Melzer with ease 6-3 6-2, he had most recently been in Kitzbuhel where he was a losing finalist in three sets to Marcel Granollers. However, he will have been incredibly disappointed to have lost that match given he held a substantial lead.
Monaco won the first set at Monte Carlo this year on his favoured clay, but it is hard to see him repeating that in Cincinnati. Djokovic will be eager to bounce back and should take this comfortably in 2 sets.