The Monte-Carlo Masters marks the start of the European clay-court season and is seen as a French Open preview. The 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters threw up plenty of surprises, with two unlikely contenders making it through to the final.
The top players in the world are looking vulnerable, and the French Open is all of a sudden much more unpredictable than before. Here are our top five lessons from the past week’s Monte-Carlo Masters.
1. Nadal is Beatable on Clay
A fit Rafael Nadal is generally considered unbeatable on clay. But at Monte-Carlo, where Rafa was competing for the first time in a month after recovering from a knee injury, he suddenly looked vulnerable. The 11-time French Open champ scraped through his quarter-final but bounced out all too easily in the semis to eventual winner Fabio Fognini.
Despite this setback, Rafa is still a clear French Open favourite. According to the latest live betting odds, bet365 is paying 10/11 for Nadal to win at Roland Garros, while 888Sport also has him an 1.85 favourite.
2. Djokovic is Beatable Too
Nadal wasn’t the only big name to bounce out early. World number one Novak Djokovic was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals. Djokovic started this season the same way he ended the last, by winning the Australian Open. But two-time Monte-Carlo champ Djokovic struggled in his first tournament on clay this year, allowing Medvedev to break his serve five times.
Like Nadal, one loss wasn’t enough to dislodge Novak Djokovic in the eyes of bookies and punters. The big Serb is a clear second in French Open betting, with bet365 quoting 7/4 and 888Sport offering 3.20 odds.
3. Italy Might Finally Have a Slam Contender
No Italian man has won a men’s grand slam since Adriano Panatta won the French Open in 1976. Italians might finally have a new men’s tennis star to look up to in the form of Monte-Carlo winner Fabio Fognini. The 31-year-old had to wait a long time to win his first Masters 1000 title. In eras one by, he’d have been considered too old to compete, but these days it’s quite normal for players to break through after age 30.
Fognini’s win has seen him skyrocket in French Open betting odds. 888Sport has him at 56.00, which is great value. Bet365 has already brought him into 33.00.
4. Clay Can Always Throw Up Surprises
Clay tournaments usually deliver a few surprises, and this year was no different. As if the tournament winner wasn’t a big enough shock, the runner-up was even more surprising. Serb Dusan Lajovic was ranked in the 40s going into the Monte-Carlo Masters, but the 28-year-old didn’t drop a set en route to the tournament final. Lajovic beat fourth-seed Dominic Thiem and 10th seed Daniil Medvedev before finally succumbing to Fognini in straight sets in the final.
If you’re looking for great betting value, Lajovic is still paying long odds for the French Open title. Bet365 has him at 150/1 and 888Sport is paying 201.00.
5. This French Open Will be an Emotional One
The Monte Carlo Country Club is actually located in France, not Monaco, but this tournament was overshadowed by news elsewhere in France. After Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Fernando Verdasco in the first round, he didn’t sign his name on the television camera as is the custom. Instead, he wrote the words “Notre Dame”, in reference to the fire at the famous Paris cathedral earlier that day.
Notre Dame and Roland Garros are both Parisian institutions, and the story of Notre Dame is sure to feature at this year’s French Open.