Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are drawn in opposite halves at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are drawn in opposite halves at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters

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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are in the opposite half of the draw at the 114th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. This means that yhey could meet in their fourth final at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. 

 

Djokovic will make his first appearance since the Australian Open, where he won his ninth title. The Serbian star will face either this year’s Miami Open finalist and two-time ATP Tour titlist Jannik Sinner or 2017 Monte-Carlo finalist Albert Ramos Vinolas in the second round. Djokovic has never faced Sinner on the ATP Tour and has a 6-0 record in his head-to-head clashes against Ramos Vinolas. 

Sinner won two ATP Tour titles in Sofia 2019 and Melbourne 1 in 2021. He advanced to 2020 Roland Garros quarter final at the age of 19, becoming the first debutant to reach Roland Garros quarter final since Rafael Nadal in 2005 and the youngest quarter finalist at the French Grand Slam tournament since Djokovic in 2006. 

Djokovic has been drawn in the same top section Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Sinner in the Miami final last week after beating four consecutive top 20 players. 

The top quarter of the draw also features David Goffin and Alexander Zverev, who reached the semifinals in Monte-Carlo respectively in 2017 and 2018. 

Nadal beat Djokovic in the 2009 and 2012 Monte-Carlo finals, while the Serbian star scored two wins in the Principality against his Spanish rival in the 2013 final and in the 2015 semifinal.

Nadal has been drawn in the bottom half of the draw. The Spanish player, who will play in his first tournament since the Australian Open after dealing with a back injury, will open his campaign against either Frenchman Adrian Mannarino or a qualifier in the second round. 

Nadal shares the third quarter of the draw with 2021 Rotterdam champion Andrey Rublev, Miami semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut and Grigor Dimitrov. 

Nadal will be aiming to win a record 12th career title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Nadal has claimed 71 of his 76 matches in Monte-Carlo, including an Open Era eight consecutive titles from 2005 to 2012 and three more trophies from 2016 to 2018. In his most recent final in the Country Club he beat Kei Nishikori three years ago. Nadal has a 71-5 record in his mathces in Monte-Carlo. 

Djokovic won two titles in Monte-Carlo in 2013 and 2015. Djokovic and Nadal have met 56 times in their career, including 25 head-to-head matches on clay. Djokovic leads 29 to 27 in their head-to-head matches, but Nadal has a 18-7 lead in their clashes on the red clay court. Nadal has won his past four clay-court matches against Djokovic in Madrid 2017, Rome 2018 and 2019 and Roland Garros 2020.

Danil Medvedev will start his bid for a first clay-court Masters 1000 title against either this year’s Doha champion Nikoloz Basilashvili or Filip Krajinovic. Medvedev could face defending champion Fabio Fognini in the third round. 

The Russian player achieved his best result in Monte-Carlo in 2019, when he beat Djokovic en route to the 2019 semifinal. The Russian player trails 1-3 in his four head-to-head matches against Nadal, but he has never met his Spanish rival on clay. 

Medvedev and Diego Schwartzman lead the bottom half of the draw alongside Karen Khachanov, 2020 US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta and defending champion Fabio Fognini. 

Medvedev won his last ten matches in 2020 and his first ten matches in 2021, including 12 wins against eight different top 10 opponents. Medvedev beat Nadal 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in the semifinals of the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals in London and has a record of 17 wins in his first 20 matches this year. He helped Russia win the ATP Cup title in Melbourne and finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the final at the Australian Open before lifting his 10th title at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille. 

Schwartzman will make his fifth appearance in Monte-Carlo. The Argentine player beat Nadal 6-2 7-5 in the quarter final en route to reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Rome Masters 1000 last September. Schwartzman beat Dominic Thiem in five sets to advance to Roland Garros semifinal, where Nadal avenged his Rome defeat with a 6-3 6-3 7-6 (7-0) win. 

Fognini will defend his 2019 Monte-Carlo title, where he claimed 9 of his 15 top 10 wins. The world number 18 player won 9 of his 15 top 10 matches. Fognini beat Nadal four times in Rio de Janeiro in 2015 Barcelona Round of 16 in 2015, at the US Open in 2015 in a five-set epic match and in Monte-Carlo semifinal in 2019. Two years ago Fognini beat Dusan Lakovic 6-3 6-4 becoming the first Italian player to win a Masters 1000 title. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas shares the second quarter of the draw with 2019 US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini, 2016 runner-up Gael Monfils and five-time ATP Tour titlist Christian Garin. Tsitipas will face either Australian Open semifinalist and Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev or 2021 Acapulco semifinalist Lorenzo Musetti. Garin will take on Canadian Next Gen star Felix Auger Aliassime, who will be joined by new coaching team member Toni Nadal. 

Tsitsipas came back from two sets down to beat Rafael Nadal 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 at last February’s Australian Open, scoring his first win over the Spanish “King of Clay” since the 2019 Madrid Mutua Open semifinals. The Greek player has a 1-3 record in ATP Tour clay court finals and lost his last clay-court match to Nadal 6-3 6-4 in Rome 2019. This year he has won 17 of his 22 matches and reached the semifinal at the Australian Open losing to Medvedev before finishing runner-up to Alexander Zverev in Acapulco. 

The potential third round matches: 

Djokovic vs Hurkacz

Zverev vs Goffin 

Tsitsipas vs Garin

Berrettini vs Monfils 

Rublev vs Bautista Agut

Nadal vs Dimitrov

Schwartzman vs Carreno Busta 

Medvedev vs Fognini

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Rafael Nadal moves into Rome semifinal after straight-set win over Alexander Zverev

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Rafael Nadal beat Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-4 in two hours to reach the semifinal at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Zverev, who won his marathon clash against Kei Nishikori late last night, converted just one of his ten break points. Nadal converted his three break points to win the match in straight set one day after saving two match points to take an epic win over Denis Shapovalov. 

Nadal won the first game at 15 after a backhand crosscourt winner and earned a break after a double fault from Zverev. 

Nadal won the third game at love after a service winner and earned his second break to race out to a 4-0 lead after 16 minutes after a backhand error from Zverev. 

Zverev pulled one break back when Nadal netted a backhand in the fifth game. 

Zverev held serve at 30 in the sixth game before Nadal won his next service game with a forehand winner at the net. 

When serving for the set at 5-3, Nadal saved a break point and converted his first se point. 

Nadal fended off a break point and closed out the first set with a service winner. 

Zverev saved a break point in the first game of the second set and earned three break points at 2-1. Nadal fended them off with his serve and forehands and won the game with a forehand winner. 

Zverev wasted three game points allowing Nadal to get a break. 

Nadal saved two break points to hold serve with a crosscourt forehand winner for 4-2. Zverev earned three break points, as Nadal served for the win at 5-4, but the Spaniard saved them. Nadal sealed the win with a serve and volley. 

Nadal has improved his head-to-head record to 6-3 against Zverev and avenged his recent defeat against his younger German rival in the Madrid quarter finals last week.

The Spanish legend has got through to his 12th semifinal in Rome. 

“I am happy. I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to. It is an important victory for me against a great player”, said Nadal. 

Nadal set up a semifinal against Reilly Opelka, who has reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal on clay with a 7-5 7-6 (7-2) win over Federico Delbonis after 1 hour and 41 minutes on at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. 

“I will face a big chance against a player who has almost an unreturnable serve. Reilly is playing well. I need to be very focused with my serve and try to be ready to accept the situation and be engaged on the return. That is what I am looking for. I think I played more solid than in Madrid. At the same time conditions are different. In Madrid Zverev was able to create a lot of damage with his serve and the first shot. Here, the situation is a little bit different. These are a little bit more normal conditions on the clay, so I was able to control a little bit more the game than in Madrid”, said Nadal. 

Opelka saved all four break points he faced in his debut at the Rome Masters 1000. The US player has not dropped a set en route to the semifinal. 

“I am surprised to reach my first Masters 1000 semifinal. Clay is not really my thing. It is not much of an American thing. It is probably just a fluke, but I will run with it. I have definitely served well. I hit my spots really well today, especially in big moments. I think that has been critical I have stayed calm and on big points. I have delivered”, said Opelka. 

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Lorenzo Sonego upsets Dominic Thiem to reach his second Masters 1000 quarter final in Rome

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Lorenzo Sonego upset fourth seed Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) after a 3-hour and 24 minute marathon match to reach the quarter finals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Before his third round match against Thiem, Sonego had won just one of his seven head-to-head matches against top 10 players. Last year the 26-year-old Turin native took an upset win over world number 1 Novak Djokovic in the Vienna semifinal. 

Sonego avenged his defeat against Thiem, who won their only previous head-to-head match in Kitzbuhel in 2019. 

The Italian player reached the second Masters 1000 quarter final of his career after making the last eight in Monte-Carlo two years ago. 

Sonego converted his second break point in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and claimed the opening set on his first opportunity in the 10th game. 

Thiem saved a total of four break points in the ninth and eleventh games in the second set, which went on serve en route to the tie-break. Thiem got two mini-breaks and converted his second set point to win the tie-break 7-5. After a 22-minute delay to clear fans out of Grand Stand Arena due to curfew, Sonego opened a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game. Thiem rallied by winning four consecutive games with two breaks to take a 4-2 lead. Thiem earned a chance to serve for the quarter finals at 5-4. Sonego saved a match point to take the match to the tie-break. Sonego got his first mini-break to take a 2-0 lead. Thiem pulled back on serve to draw level to 2-2. Sonego went up a 5-3 with his second mini-break, but Thiem broke back for the second time to draw level to 5-5. Sonego got his third mini-break to take the second tie-break 7-5. 

Sonego will face Andrey Rublev in the quarter finals. The Russian player won his only previous head-to-head match against Sonego in the Vienna final last year. 

“It’s amazing, an unbelievably emotional moment for me because I am in Italy with fans for two sets. I am so happy for this victory, for this match. Thiem is the best player on clay with Nadal. It was not easy to play two sets with the fans and another one without, but I have my team and they supported me. I dedicate the win to the fans which game me great energy”, said Sonego.

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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