After the completion of the Miami Masters, all eyes point to France for the Monte-Carlo Masters. The event had long been dominated by Rafael Nadal, winning eight times in a row from 2005-2012. This run was finally ended in 2013 when Novak Djokovic won in straight sets in the final while David Ferrer’s quarter final victory over Nadal ensured he would go a second year without picking up the trophy.
Check out last year’s final result article: Wawrinka beats Federer and Wins 2014 Monte Carlo Title
With any top level clay tournament, it feels like there are only two contenders for the title especially if they are on opposite sides of the draw. As eight time winner, Nadal has to go into the tournament as favourite but Novak Djokovic is closing the gap each year. Nadal will be eager to end his two year drought at the tournament but has shown he is vulnerable once more after ending his 2014 early through injury. Losing to Fabio Fognini in Rio in February will see more of those outside the elite fancying their chances – especially after Nicolas Almagro ended a long losing streak in Barcelona last year. When it comes to big tournaments on clay, he is still the man to beat but his stranglehold is weakening a bit.
2013’s winner Novak Djokovic remains second favourite and the most likely player to defeat Nadal on clay, whatever the venue. He has won the last two best of three matches (Rome ’14, Monte Carlo ’13) but came up short each of the last three years at Roland Garros. Nadal’s exit in the quarter finals should have led to Djokovic taking a second straight title but Roger Federer has remained a tough foe for the Serb, going 4-4 since the beginning of last year. A comeback win against Nadal in the Rome final ensured he didn’t go winless on clay last year.
Last year’s winner Stanislas Wawrinka was still riding the high of his first slam by this point and took advantage of a draw that saw him face neither Nadal or Djokovic to win his first Masters 1000 event with a three set victory over Roger Federer in the final. However, his clay form following that had been very sketchy with losses to Dominic Thiem, Tommy Haas and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Similarly poor losses in recent weeks suggest a turnaround is needed sharpish if the Swiss No.2 is to be a contender in just under a months time.
Roger Federer has not won a clay Masters 1000 event since the controversial Madrid 2012 tournament on blue clay. Last year’s finalist has shown his capabilities against Djokovic on many an occasion but it feels like his chances of winning the title are dependant on a route that does not involve Rafael Nadal. Kei Nishikori was a winner in Barcelona before making the final in Madrid in his next tournament. Before his body failed him, the Japanese star was in control against Nadal before injury finally saw him retire midway through the third set. It would also be unfair to leave out David Ferrer, who defeated Nadal at the event last year, although his record against other top players leaves a lot to be desired.
See all predictions here: Monte Carlo Masters Tips