Nadal, Djokovic: back on track in Monte Carlo

(Last Updated On: April 19, 2018)


Rafa Nadal won easily in Monte Carlo, crushing Aljaz Bedene 6-1 6-3. He loves clay — he is an addict — and when he walks on the court, he is already locked in. In the last 10 years, he rarely — and I mean rarely — loses. That’s it. He is the best clay court ever, hands down, but he gets hurt a lot, so now, he is vulnerable. However, this week, if he is healthy, he is the favorite. But, there will be some close matches.  
 
Novak Djokovic finally played well, and it has taken a year — or two years — the Serbian has said. He was pretty lost at Indian Wells and Miami. In Monte Carlo, over the last three days, he is faster, comfortable, and powerful.

Will it last? I would think so, but he has to be patient because the 12-time Grand Slam champion isn’t there yet. He beat Borna Coric 7-6(2) 7-5, which was huge, because Coric has been very confident over the past two months. Coric is very steady, and the same goes with Djokovic. They played for two-and-a-quarter hours, but the Serbian reached back and nailed it.

Good for Marin Cilic, who beat Fernando Verdasco 6-3 7-6(4). Verdasco does like clay, but Cilic is up and down. However, one this day, he was calm and, when he had the opportunity, he moved forward. His first serve is massive, and his forehand is gigantic. But to win it at Monte Carlo? I cannot see that.

Way to go by Kei Nishikori, who bested Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2. Nishikori really wants to play as much as he can, but he does get hurt a lot, so he has to be careful….

That is a great win by the Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, who blew out Diego D. Schwartzman 6-2 6-1 in the second round. He has an amazing backhand. … Canadian Milos Raonic is still in there despite nagging injuries. Hopefully, his arms are better, and he won’t think about how sore it is. He is a terrific player, but he doesn’t love clay. On grass and the hardcourts, sure, he can go very deep in the summer. But in the spring, he cannot win in the big events. Including Monte Carlo.

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