The best players in the world will again converge at the Monte Carlo Country Club for the 2020 Monte Carlo Masters, live from 13-19 April, 2020. Following his surprise semi-final exit last year, can King of Clay, Rafael Nadal regain his title this season?
Monte Carlo 2020 Predictions
Staged at the picturesque Monte Carlo Country Club, the Monte Carlo Masters boasts one of the most aesthetic venues on the men’s tour, and typically attracts the best players in the world.
The Monte Carlo Masters is the only Masters 1000 tournament not to have mandatory status, but that hasn’t diminished the quality of the tournament, with most of the top players opting to kick start their European clay-court seasons at the venue. This is where the road to Roland Garros really starts for the world’s best players.
Unsurprisingly, the legendary Rafael Nadal has absolutely dominated this clay-court tournament, winning an incredible 11 titles over the years, including eight consecutive triumphs between 2005 and 2012. The great Spaniard remains the only man to have won a single tournament for eight straight years. However, Nadal suffered a shock semi-final loss to Fabio Fognini last season, with the mercurial Italian going on to beat Dusan Lajovic in the final for his first Masters 1000 title.
Will Nadal regain his title this year? Can Novak Djokovic win what would only be his third title at the tournament? Or will we have another surprise champion? All of these questions will be answered in Monte Carlo from 13-19 April.
Monte Carlo 2020 Predictions: Can Rafael Nadal regain his title?
With a staggering 71-5 win-loss record in Monte Carlo, Rafael Nadal is again the overwhelming favourite to claim a twelfth title at the tournament. The Spaniard was champion between 2005 and 2012, and again between 2016 and 2018, but his bid for a fourth successive title was halted in a semi-final defeat to Fognini last season- a performance the great man would describe as one of his worst matches on clay.
“I played one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years. It’s difficult to find any positives. I played a very bad game against a good player, so in that situation you have to lose”, Nadal said after falling to Fognini last year.
Perhaps, Nadal shouldn’t have been too harsh on himself. The Spaniard was playing his first tournament in a month, having pulled out of an Indian Wells semi-final against Roger Federer, and sat out the Miami Masters completely due to a knee injury. Nadal would go on to lose subsequent clay-court semi-finals in Barcelona and Madrid as he struggled to produce his vintage best, raising questions over his readiness for Roland Garros, but the great man found his best form at the nick of time, winning in Rome and Paris in a glorious finish to a difficult clay-court campaign. Nadal added hard-court titles in Montreal and the US Open to his 2019 collection, and ended the season as the No. 1 player in the world.
His start to 2020 was not perfect- he lost to David Goffin and Novak Djokovic at the ATP Cup- and was beaten by Dominic Thiem in the quarter finals of the Australian Open, but the 33-year-old claimed his first title of the season at Acapulco, and will be looking to push on at Masters 1000 tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami. Assuming he gets through those hard-court tournaments without any physical problems, which is by no means a given, the King of Clay will be the man to beat in Monte Carlo, as he aims to reclaim the title he lost last season.
World No. 1, Novak Djokovic is the other multiple champion in the Monte Carlo field.
Djokovic was champion in Monte Carlo in 2013 and 2015, and finalist in 2009 and 2012, but his recent record at the tournament is not great. The Monte Carlo resident has not made a semi-final since his title run in 2015, and has fallen before the quarter finals in two of the four editions within that period. Djokovic’s recent Monte Carlo struggles is a microcosm of his clay-court form over the last few seasons. Since his Roland Garros triumph in 2016, the Serbian has won just the one clay court title (in Madrid last year), and reached two other finals (Rome 2017 and 2019).
Within the last three seasons, he has suffered clay-court defeats to David Goffin, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Martin Klizan, Kyle Edmund, Marco Cecchinato, Daniil Medvedev, and of course, Rafael Nadal. Can he find his best form on clay this year, and produce another deep run in Monte Carlo?
The world No. 1 has been producing deep runs for fun in 2020. A spectacular start to the season has included an eight Australian Open title and a fifth Dubai crown for the Serbian, who has since regained his world No. 1 ranking. His 18-0 start to the year also includes a 6-0 run in singles matches at the ATP Cup, where he inspired Serbia to victory at the inaugural team event. Djokovic is next scheduled to compete at Indian Wells and Miami, where he will again be the favourite for the titles, given the start he has made to the season, and his overall record on hard courts.
The danger here, relative to his clay-court campaign, is that the 32-year-old might have played too many matches in the opening quarter of the year, and could be vulnerable in the grueling European clay season.
Beyond Nadal and Djokovic, who are the other title contenders in Monte Carlo?
Dominic Thiem is the name that immediately springs to mind, but the Austrian has got an unremarkable record in Monte Carlo. Thiem has arguably been the second best player on clay behind Nadal in the last couple of seasons, reaching the French Open final in 2018 and 2019, but he is yet to make the semi-finals in Monte Carlo and has reached the quarter finals just once in six visits. Besides, he is yet to win a Masters 1000 title on clay, with his best efforts being runner-up finishes in Madrid in 2017 and 2018.
Originally classed as a clay-court specialist, Thiem has dispelled that notion over the last year, expanding his game significantly under the guidance of Nicolas Massu. The Austrian is now not only a force on clay, but has become a genuine threat on hard courts. He claimed his first Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells last season, and went on to win more hard court titles in Beijing and Vienna, and finish runner-up at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals. Thiem continued his hard-court charge with a spectacular Australian Open campaign early this year, when he was within a set of beating Novak Djokovic in a terrific five-set final.
Now that he is consistently going deep in hard-court tournaments, it remains to be seen if that will have a telling effect on his clay-court form. He certainly didn’t look great in Rio, where he struggled through three-setters against Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves and Jaume Munar before falling to unheralded Italian, Gianluca Mager. Thiem is scheduled to compete at Indian Wells (where he is defending champion), and Miami, before starting his European clay season in Monte Carlo.
Last year’s semi-finalist, Daniil Medvedev is another player to keep an eye on. The impressive Russian planted himself firmly in the sport’s elite group with a spectacular 2019, which included four titles, and five other finals. He had that memorable run between August and October last year, when he made six consecutive finals, winning his first Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, and falling just short in the US Open final against Nadal.
Medvedev had a mixed clay-court season in 2019- he was a semi-finalist in Monte Carlo (beating Djokovic along the way), and a finalist in Barcelona, but he lost successive opening round matches in Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. It’s fair to say that the Russian is still trying to sort out his game on clay. His supreme defence makes him tough to beat on the surface, but he can also be too passive. It’s all about finding the right balance between attack and defence.
Also worthy of a mention is Stefanos Tsitsipas, whose superb 2019 included a Masters 1000 clay-court final in Madrid (beat Nadal before losing to Djokovic) and a semi-final in Rome. The Greek young gun was slow off the blocks in 2020, but he found some good form in February, successfully defending his Marseille title and reaching the final in Dubai for the second straight season. Tsitsipas has a game for all surfaces, and if he’s fit and playing well by the time he arrives Monte Carlo, he will definitely be among the favourites for a deep run in the Principality.
Another player who has been in tremendous form this year is Gael Monfils, who already has titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam, and a semi-final in Dubai. Monfils has not competed in Monte Carlo for the last three seasons, but he was a finalist in his most recent visit to Monte Carlo in 2016 (lost to Nadal), having made the semi-finals in the previous year.
Apart from Nadal, Djokovic, and last year’s champion, Fognini, the only other former champion in the draw is Stan Wawrinka. The three-time major winner retains the ability to hit through any draw, and remains very dangerous when he gets on a roll. Wawrinka has made a decent start to the year, opening with a semi-final in Doha and making quarter finals at the Australian Open and Acapulco. He has not been at his Grand Slam-winning best for some time now, but if he stays fit, the powerful Swiss has always got a chance of producing a spectacular week.
Fabio Fognini shocked the world last season when he emerged Monte Carlo champion, but it is very unlikely that the Italian mounts a successful title defence. The man to beat will again be the 11-time champion, the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal.
Monte Carlo 2020 tournament information
Name: Rolex Monte Carlo Masters
Location: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
Venue: Monte Carlo Country Club
Category: ATP Masters 1000 Series
Surface: Outdoor clay courts
Draw size: 52 singles/24 doubles
Most titles: Rafael Nadal (11)
Reigning champion: Fabio Fognini
Qualifying at the 2020 Monte Carlo Masters holds from 11-12 April
Main-draw play at the Monte Carlo Masters begins on Monday 13 April
The final will be played on Sunday 19 April
Who are the best-performing players at the Monte Carlo Masters?
|Players||Years played||Titles||Finals||2019 result||Win-loss|
|Rafael Nadal||16||11 (2005-2012; 2016-2018)||1 (2013)||SF||71-5|
|Novak Djokovic||13||2 (2013, 2015)||2 (2009, 2012)||QF||34-11|
|Stan Wawrinka||11||1 (2014)||–||R2||21-10|
|Fabio Fognini||11||1 (2019)||–||Champion||17-10|
|Gael Monfils||10||–||1 (2016)||Absent||13-10|
Monte Carlo betting tips
Check back for the best Monte Carlo betting tips when odds are released closer to the tournament, where main-draw play begins on Monday, 13 April.