ATP Monte Carlo 2013 Draw Preview and Analysis

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Follow the final live here: Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic Live Monte Carlo 2013 final

For the full draw of this year’s tournament, please click here: ATP Monte Carlo Masters 2013 Draw

The first clay Masters 1000 of the year kicks off in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is in its 107th edition this year with Rafael Nadal looking to extend his place in the history books even further. Nadal has won the tournament a record eight times in a row and is a heavy favourite to make it nine. Roger Federer’s break and David Ferrer’s recent injury woes means that Nadal will begin the tournament as third seed.

The tournament looks all set up for a blockbuster final with Nadal and Novak Djokovic in separate halves. Djokovic opens against either Daniel Gimen0-Traver or Mikhail Youzhny. It will be their third meeting on clay but the first since 2009 where Youzhny defeated the Spaniard twice within the space of a month at Kitzbuhel and Rome. A poor beginning to the year saw John Isner take a wildcard into the tournament only to find form at Houston this week where he made the final after defeating Juan Monaco. He gets far from a kind draw though as he plays Ernests Gulbis. After starting the year outside the top 100, Gulbis now finds himself with a great chance of moving into the top 50 with a good run. The only meeting between Gulbis and Isner was a four set victory for the Latvian at Wimbledon in 2008. A repeat of the Houston semi final could occur if Isner and Juan Monaco both win their respective matches. Monaco plays Casablanca semi finalist Martin Klizan. The Slovakian looked in great shape to make the final after taking the first against Kevin Anderson but a third set collapse put paid to that. Fresh from helping Canada make the Davis Cup semi finals, Milos Raonic will be full of confidence and should fancy his chances against Julien Benneteau with the winner playing Viktor Troicki or Jarkko Nieminen. Benneteau wasn’t quite as fortunate in his doubles tie in Davis Cup action, losing in four with Michael Llodra from a very good position. Juan Martin Del Potro also received a wildcard and will open against the winner of Alexandr Dolgopolov and Bernard Tomic in what promises to be an intriguing tie. Their last meeting was at this very same tournament last year with Dolgopolov winning 6-2 5-7 6-1.

A semi finalist last year, Tomas Berdych has a great chance of repeating with his draw. A qualifier or Marcel Granollers is first up while he could face his fellow Czech Radek Stepanek in round three but it seems more likely that the winner of the all-Italian match between Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi will be awaiting Berdych. Stepanek faces a qualifier to take on one of the Italians with Seppi looking the likely opponent. The 15th seed holds a 5-2 record over Fognini but has lost his last two encounters in three sets. Berdych is 4-1 over potential quarter final opponent and ninth seed Marin Cilic who begins with Horacio Zeballos. Jerzy Janowicz plays the in-form Kevin Anderson in one of only three first round matches where players have not met before. Anderson has impressed on the clay in Casablanca this week, making the final. The other seed in the Berdych quarter is Richard Gasquet with the Frenchman just edging the head to head. In their last six meetings (including Hopman Cup 2012), they have traded victories. Gasquet won in straights in Miami after a defeat in the same fashion in Indian Wells. If Benoit Paire can avoid a collapse like he did against Tommy Robredo then he should be meeting his countryman in round two but it is hard to count out Ivan Dodig with the erratic nature with which Paire plays.

Rafael Nadal looks to have a fairly comfortable route to the semi finals and begins against either Marinko Matosevic or Fernando Verdasco. Nadal defeated Verdasco for the loss of just one game in the 2010 final. After losing 14 matches in a row to Nadal, Verdasco finally earned a win over his countryman from a very unlikely position in the controversial Madrid tournament last year. However, he has struggled this year going 3-6 and losing to 35 year old Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in Houston this past week. After injury forced him out of Davis Cup action deep into a fifth set early in the year, Philipp Kohlschreiber has played little and suffered defeats to Benoit Paire and David Goffin at Indian Wells and Miami respectively. The German plays Thomaz Bellucci who has won their last two encounters to tie the head to head up at 2-2. The winner looks likely to play Jeremy Chardy who faces a qualifier in round one.  Grigor Dimitrov has a decent opportunity to make a quarter final against Nadal here with both seeds in his way not in the greatest of form. Janko Tipsarevic finally ended his five match losing streak in Miami but looked poor in defeat to Gilles Simon. Tipsarevic plays the winner of Dimitrov and Xavier Malisse. Simon is the other seed in this section and would definitely be happy to meet Tipsarevic in a potential third round given his 7-2 record over the Serbian. Simon was disappointing in Davis Cup action losing two winnable matches against Juan Monaco and Carlos Berlocq on the Argentinian clay. Simon plays Roberto Bautista Agut (2-0 H2H) in round one and looks set to face Florian Mayer in the second if he comes out on top against the Spaniard. Mayer takes on the lone Monegasque entrant in the draw, Benjamin Balleret. Balleret is ranked outside the top 500 and is most well known for being on the winning end of the longest tie break in history.

Andy Murray is projected to play Nadal in the semi final but it doesn’t look a certainty given the tough draw he has been dealt and his relative struggling on clay. A qualifier or Robin Haase should be easy enough to deal with but the third round could see him face Stanislas Wawrinka. Wawrinka disappointed as top seed in Casablanca  losing to Tommy Robredo in the semi final but is more than capable of troubling Murray at his best. In fact, Wawrinka has a 2-0 record over Murray on clay although they played in 2005 and 2008. Wawrinka must defeat Denis Istomin and most likely Gael Monfils (plays Qualifier) to get there though. Monfils took a set off Nicolas Almagro in Houston before falling in three. Almagro has won the only encounter on clay between himself and potential quarter final opponent Murray (French Open 2008). The Spaniard faces Goffin in round one, beating him in consecutive years in Miami. In what is a qualifier heavy section, Jurgen Melzer and Nikolay Davydenko also face qualifiers. Melzer has competed well against Almagro, with a 2011 win against him at this tournament – where he eventually made the semi finals. Davydenko will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga if he wins. Tsonga has won the last two encounters between the pair, although they have never met on clay. If Nicolas Almagro wants to make the quarter finals he will have to reverse the ugly head to head between him and Tsonga, where the Frenchman leads 6-0 and 3-0 on clay. Tsonga has a similarly bad record against Murray though, going 2-7 although they have never met on a clay court.

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