2021 Monte Carlo Predictions

AP/Hamish Blair, file

2021 Monte Carlo Predictions

The 2021 clay court season is upon us. As we all know, the top men decided to skip the Miami Open so that they could focus on their return to the clay. What better tournament to make that return than the Monte Carlo Masters. Set upon the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean, the Monte Carlo Masters has been one of the most prestigious events on the calendar, and one that Rafa Nadal usually wins. He has won the event an astonishing 11 times.

The event is usually what kick starts his clay-court season. He’ll usually go from winning Monte Carlo to winning Barcelona, then to winning Madrid before heading off to win Rome, and then on to winning the French Open. Winning, winning, and more winning is what Nadal usually does in the Spring. There’s absolutely no reason to believe this year will be any different. All that being said, what about the rest of the top players that are participating in Monte Carlo. Do they have a chance?

I’d venture to say that a few of the top players will have an outside chance to beat Nadal on the red clay of Monte Carlo. Let’s not forget that Fabio Fognini was the last man to win Monte Carlo in 2019, beating Nadal in the semis on his way to the title. He’s also one of the few men that have posted multiple wins against Nadal. So, it is possible to dethrone the King of Clay. However, I doubt it will be Fabio Fognini. Fabio will be playing, however, he’s not in top form at the moment, and given the competitiveness of the field in Monte Carlo, I doubt this is the tournament where he’ll find his game. If not Fabio, then who? Let’s take a look at a few that could have a chance!

#16 Seed Christian Garin

Garin has been on the rise in the last couple of years. The red clay is where he feels most comfortable. He’s very familiar with Nadal given his stint at Rafa’s academy a few years back. He’s never met Nadal in an official ATP match. Garin is a beast on the clay though and will be hard to beat on this stuff. He won his home clay-court tournament this year at the Chile Open.

#7 Seed Diego Schwartzman

Diego has been waiting almost a year for the return of a real clay-court season. Well Diego, here it is! As we can remember, 2020 was a phenomenal year on the clay for Diego even though he did not pick up a title. He reached the finals of the Italian Open, beating Nadal in the semis, and reached the semifinals of the French Open, beating Dominic Thiem in a five-set thriller along the way. This year, he’s already picked up a clay tournament at the Argentina Open. Diego is a top-three player on the clay, behind Djokovic and Nadal. It will be interesting to see how his clay-court season shapes up. I see him in the semifinals at Monte Carlo.

#4 Seed Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos posted a win against Nadal as recently as 2019 at the Madrid Masters quarterfinals. He also posted an amazing come from behind win against Nadal at the Australian Open this year. Does he have Nadal’s number? It certainly looks that way from where I stand. Stefanos can play on any surface and win on any surface. He’s due for a big title. Can he get it done in Monte Carlo? I wouldn’t bet against Stefanos this year. He’s developing into a beast of a player.

#1 Seed Novak Djokovic

The last time Novak beat Rafa on clay was 2016. That’s a long time ago. That being said, Novak has posted the most wins against Nadal on clay than any other player on tour right now. He’s beat Nadal seven times on the red clay. An “in form” Djokovic has a fighting chance against the King of Clay. Don’t be surprised if you see Djokovic walking away with this title. Let’s not forget he’s already won this title twice before.

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