Day 3 at the Monte Carlo Masters saw World No. 1 Novak Djokovic battle through Philipp Kohlschreiber in three tough sets. It was Djokovic’s first clay court win of the season, and almost certainly not his last. Will World No. 2 Rafael Nadal also advance in Monte Carlo? Read on to find out!
Monte Carlo Masters Day 4 Predictions
Kei Nishikori vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Head to Head: 2-0 Nishikori
One of the first matches of the day features World No. 6 Kei Nishikori taking on Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert. This will be Nishikori’s first match on clay this season, having struggled during the Sunshine Double. In fact, Nishikori only won one match between the two tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, going 1-2 over that span. After starting the season on such a high in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Rotterdam, Nishikori is suddenly struggling to find form.
Struggling to find form is something that Herbert has struggled with recently. He has not won consecutive matches since Montpellier in February. However, today, Herbert picked up a huge straight set win over Fernando Verdasco, proving that he will provide Nishikori with a stern test. However, in their previous two matchups, Herbert has been only able to get a set, although both matches were on hard courts. This match will come down to whether Herbert can serve well enough to keep sets close, and if he can attack the Nishikori second serve. If Herbert can do that, then he can win this match. However, I don’t think he will execute at a high enough level and Nishikori will force Herbert into too many long rallies for the Frenchman’s taste.
Prediction: Nishikori in 3
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Alexander Zverev
Head to Head: Never Played
A blockbuster second round matchup features rising stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev. Auger-Aliassime is truly rocketing up the rankings, buoyed by his runner-up at the ATP 500 event in Rio de Janeiro. Auger-Aliassime is currently No. 33 in the World, whereas his opponent, Zverev, is No. 3 in the World. Zverev has been towards the top of the rankings for quite some time now, giving the 21 year old a veteran feel.
Zverev played in Marrakech last week, but after beating Denis Istomin in the first round, stumbled to Jaume Munar in his next match, unable to hit through the young Spainard. Auger-Aliassime has been playing on clay for a good portion of the season already, making the aforementioned Rio final and having a good run in Sao Paolo too. He translated his game well to the hard courts in Indian Wells and Miami, before winning a tough first round match against 2019 Cordoba Open champion Juan Ignacio Londero. This match will come down to who takes the initiative and who is pushed back in the court. And given the two players’ forms, Auger-Aliassime will have the upper-hand in many rallies. Auger-Aliassime is for real.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 3
Dominic Thiem vs Martin Klizan
Head to Head: 3-2 Klizan
Reigning French Open finalist, and recent Indian Wells champion, Dominic Thiem takes on Martin Klizan in the second round of Monte Carlo. Thiem had a very rough start to the season, a start which saw him win only two matches in the two clay tournaments he played, including a first-round defeat to Laslo Djere in Rio de Janeiro. Thiem, however, completely turned his season around with a title at Indian Wells, beating Roger Federer to lift the trophy. And while he lost in the first round of Miami to Hubert Hurkacz, look for Thiem to enter Monte Carlo with a newfound energy.
Martin Klizan’s season has been steady, although he only won two matches in a row at a tournament one time, in Sofia. In his opening round of Monte Carlo, he beat a formidable clay court opponent in Federico Delbonis, securing the straight sets win. Klizan, somewhat surprisingly, has the lead in the head to head at 3-2, including a 2-0 record on clay. In their previous match, however, Thiem played brilliantly, using controlled aggression to dominate the match against the Slovakian. Klizan plays a very high-risky style of tennis, and the result of the match could come down to whether his game is clicking or not. All things considered, however, just trust Thiem more to get it done at a Masters 1000 event.
Prediction: Thiem in three
Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Rafael Nadal
Head to Head: 2-0 Nadal
11-time French Open winner and 11-time Monte Carlo Masters champion Rafael Nadal takes on fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut. While it would take all day to talk about all of Nadal’s achievements, last year in Monte Carlo was one of Nadal’s finest Masters events. He dropped no more than four games in a set, and five games in a match, on the way to his 11th title. This included a four-match run where he crushed Karen Khachanov, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, and Kei Nishikori. Nadal then won Rome, then went on to only lose one set at French Open last year. It certainly feels like only Nadal’s own injury concerns can stop him on the clay this year.
Bautista-Agut has had a very solid season, including an Australian Open quarterfinal appearance and two wins over Novak Djokovic. Bautista-Agut’s rally tolerance and counterpunching ability is near the top of the tour, and he is a player who will not give opponents many free points. He wore Djokovic down in their matches this year, which is not an easy feat. This match comes down to whether Nadal’s body can handle competitive match play, as Bautista-Agut won’t gift him the match. Nadal has not dropped a set to Bautista-Agut in their two clay court matches, and if Nadal is even close to his best, then I don’t see him grinding down the King of Clay.
Prediction: Nadal in 2
Embed from Getty Images