Arguably the most entertaining and intriguing first round encounter at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters will take place between exciting talents Ernests Gulbis and Alexandr Dolgopolov. The two competitors have only met once before on the professional tour, and that meeting also took place at this event in 2011. The Latvian would leave victorious to give himself a 1-0 record in the head-to-head series.
Alexandr Dolgopolov has been a resurgent force in 2014, as the Ukrainian talent reached the semi-finals in Buenos Aires and the finals in Rio, where he lost to clay court king Rafael Nadal. He would avenge that loss the following month, as he would defeat Nadal in three sets at Indian Wells, before losing to Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Having already earned impressive performances during the Golden Swing in Latin America, Dolgopolov will be looking to build on his 5-3 clay court record this season, starting with a strong showing in Monte Carlo.
World No. 23 Ernests Gulbis has had a successful 2014 season, as he extended his perfect record in ATP World Tour finals to 5-0 with a victory over Tsonga in Marseille. The following month, he reach his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final (or better), where he lost to Isner in a tight match-up. He would follow up with a second round loss to Benneteau in Miami. This marks Gulbis’ first venture on clay in 2014.
This marks the second time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Gulbis leading the series 1-0. With Dolgopolov and Gulbis both ranked at No. 22 and 23 respectively, this should make for a fun and entertaining contest. It is a shame both will have to meet so early in the season, as they both have the talent to make relatively deep runs in the draw. Dolgopolov has more experience this season on clay, which may factor into the contest tomorrow, even though the court climate and conditions are different in Europe than South America. This will likely be a much more competitve contest than their first meeting, with Dolgopolov earning a hard-fought victory in a deciding set.
Prediction: Alexandr Dolgopolov in Three Sets