It’s the beginning of the first clay Masters 1000 tournament of 2017 – Monte Carlo.
Roger Federer, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios and Richard Gasquet will all be missing the third Masters 1000 event of the season. With the absence of these notable players, it is time for others to step up.
Federer has won the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami to begin 2017. With his absence, which player will interrupt Federer’s streak of “big” titles?
After missing the Miami Open and Davis Cup with an elbow injury, world no. 1 Andy Murray returns to competition in Monte Carlo. Murray has never made the finals in Monte Carlo. In 2016, he was defeated in the semifinals by Rafael Nadal.
Murray will be looking to put all doubts of his physique aside as he tries for a 15th Masters 1000 title. Standing in his way in the early rounds: Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Tommy Robredo and Gilles Muller.
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) April 14, 2017
Stan Wawrinka potentially awaits Murray in the semifinals. The no. 3 seed, due to Federer’s withdrawal, is the 2014 Monte Carlo champion. It was his first and only Masters 1000 title to date. Wawrinka has posted good results to begin 2017 – a semifinalist at the Australian Open and runner-up in Indian Wells – where he was defeated by Federer on both occasions.
Standing in Wawrinka’s way before a potential semifinal clash with Murray: Mischa Zverev, Jiri Vesley, Viktor Troicki, and Pablo Cuevas.
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) April 15, 2017
Marin Cilic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Lucas Pouille also linger in the top half of the draw.
Novak Djokovic makes his return to competition after missing the Miami Open in March. Djokovic was sidelined with an elbow injury but has since participated in Davis Cup, helping Serbia defeat Spain for a spot in the semifinals.
A two-time champion in Monte Carlo, Djokovic will look to put his disappointing season behind him and make a statement to begin the European clay swing. To do so, Djokovic must go through potentially Gilles Simon, Fabio Fognini and Pablo Carreno Busta to clash with Rafael Nadal in the bottom semifinal.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) April 14, 2017
Rafael Nadal, also known as “The King of Clay” this time of year, emerges into Monte Carlo as the favourite to win the title. A nine-time Monte Carlo champion, Nadal holds more titles on this court than all other players combined. Djokovic and Wawrinka are the only other players who have claimed the title opposite Nadal.
En route to a historic 10th title, Nadal has Kyle Edmund, Daniel Evans, Feliciano Lopez and Alexander Zverev as potential opponents in the early rounds.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) April 15, 2017
Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem and Roberto Bautista Agut also threaten the bottom half.
The main draw of the Monte Carlo Masters begins Sunday April 16.
Click here to preview the whole Monte Carlo draw.