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Ready, Set, Clay

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is the defending champion in Monte-Carlo.

EUROPEAN CLAY SWING: The first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament of the year gets underway this week in Monaco, with the world’s top four players – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer – headlining a star-studded field, which boasts 19 of the world’s top 25 players. Every finalist from the last eight years is in action this week. 

DAY 1 PREVIEW: The pick of Sunday’s match-ups sees the in-form Alexandr Dolgopolov take on Ernests Gulbis on Court Central, with the Latvian leading their FedEx H2H series 1-0. Their encounter is one of four main draw singles matches in action today. Also taking to court on the opening day is Dominic Thiem, who at 20 is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The Austrian wild card goes up against Tour vet Nicolas Mahut. The final round of qualifying will also conclude today. 

11 IN A ROW? Djokovic and Nadal hold all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles between them, as well as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Serb is bidding for his fifth title in a row at Masters 1000 level this week, and sixth if you include the end-of-season tournament.

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TOURNAMENT CHAMPION FINALIST
Monte-Carlo 2013 Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal
Madrid 2013 Rafael Nadal Stanislas Wawrinka
Rome 2013 Rafael Nadal Roger Federer
Montreal 2013 Rafael Nadal Milos Raonic
Cincinnati 2013 Rafael Nadal John Isner
Shanghai 2013 Novak Djokovic Juan Martin del Potro
Paris 2013 Novak Djokovic David Ferrer
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2013 Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal
Indian Wells 2014 Novak Djokovic Roger Federer
Miami 2014 Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal

BIG FOUR DOMINATION: In the past 36 Masters 1000 tournaments (since 2010 Monte-Carlo), the Big Four of Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray have accounted for 34 titles (28 of the past 29 since 2011). The only exceptions over the last four years came in Paris-Bercy in 2010 (Soderling) and 2012 (Ferrer). During that stretch, Djokovic won 13 titles, Nadal 11 titles and Murray and Federer with five each. 

DJOKOVIC ON THE DOUBLE? Djokovic clinched his first Monte-Carlo title in 2013 with a straight sets win over Nadal in the final, ending the Spaniard’s eight-year reign in the Principality. This season, the Serb is looking to become the fifth player to successfully defend his crown here, after Bjorn Borg (1980), Thomas Muster (1996), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003) and Nadal (2006-12).

10 AND COUNTING: Monte-Carlo resident Djokovic enters the tournament on a 10-match winning streak having won back-to-back titles in Indian Wells (d. Federer) and Miami (d. Nadal) for the first time in his career. The defending champion, who also reached the final in 2009 and 2012 (l. to Nadal each time), has a 20-6 record in Monte-Carlo. 

NADAL GOING FOR NINE: The world No. 1, who won here every year from 2005-12, is seeking his ninth Monte-Carlo title after losing out last year to Djokovic. The Spaniard’s loss in last season’s final brought an end to his 81-match winning streak on clay in the month of April. It also brought a halt to his 46 consecutive wins in Monte-Carlo. He owns a remarkable 48-2 record here. 

KEY TO REACHING NO. 1? In the past four years (and six of the last eight), the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings has won the most ATP Masters 1000 matches during that season. Here’s a look at the year-end No. 1 players and their ATP Masters 1000 win-loss record those years:

YEAR YEAR-END NO. 1 W-L TITLES
2013 Rafael Nadal 35-3 5
2012 Novak Djokovic 34-6 3
2011 Novak Djokovic 33-1 5
2010 Rafael Nadal 29-5 3
2009 Rafael Nadal 32-6 3
2008 Roger Federer 34-3 4

 • FEDERER CHASES ELUSIVE CROWN: Monte-Carlo is one of three ATP Masters 1000 titles missing from Federer’s collection (along with Rome and Shanghai). The Swiss, who is playing here for the first time since 2011, has a 29-10 record in Monaco, reaching the QF (l. to Melzer) in his last visit. His best result here is three straight final appearances from 2006-08 (l. to Nadal each time). 

RANKING RISER: Alexandr Dolgopolov has made the biggest jump in the top 50 Emirates ATP Rankings since the close of 2013, rising 35 places from No. 57 to No. 22. The Ukrainian has reached at least the QF at his last four events: He posted three top 20 wins en route to the final in Rio de Janeiro in February (l. to Nadal); advanced to the SF a week later in Acapulco (l. to Anderson); posted the biggest win of his career over world No. 1 Nadal to advance to the SF at the BNP Paribas Open – his first appearance at that stage of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event – before falling to Federer; and he also reached the final eight in Miami (l. to Berdych). 

CLAY-COURT TITLE LEADERS: Nadal is three clay-court titles away from equaling Guillermo Vilas’ all-time record of 46 crowns on the surface. The top five all-time title leaders on clay are Vilas (46), Nadal (43), Thomas Muster (40), Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes (both 30). 

2014 MATCH-WIN LEADERS: Federer leads the way with 24 match wins in 2014:

RANK PLAYER 2014 W-L
1 Roger Federer 24-4
2 Marin Cilic 22-6
T3 Rafael Nadal 21-3
T3 Fabio Fognini 21-6

 • APRIL LEADERBOARD: Nadal’s most productive month in terms of silverware is April, with 15 of his 62 career titles coming in this month: May (11), June (9) and July (7). He has won at least one title in April every year since 2005, boasting a 48-2 record here and a 40-1 mark in Barcelona.

PLAYER NO. TITLES
Rafael Nadal 15 Monte-Carlo (2005-12); Barcelona (2005-07, '09-12)
Novak Djokovic 4 Miami (2007, '11-12); Monte Carlo (2013)
Roger Federer 3 Miami (2005-06); Oeiras (2008)
Nicolas Almagro 2 Valencia (2006-07); Houston (?)
Pablo Andujar 2 Casablanca (2011-12)/td>
Nikolay Davydenko 2 Oeiras (2003); Miami (2008)
Fernando Verdasco 2 Valencia (2004); Barcelona (2010); Houston (?)

* Nadal has won eight Barcelona titles but one of those victories came in May rather than April and is not included

HOT STREAK: Top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan arrive in Monte-Carlo on a 17-match winning streak. The world No. 1s clinched their fourth title in succession in Houston on Saturday, adding to the Delray Beach, Indian Wells and Miami crowns that they’ve already won on home soil this year. The brothers, who are attempting to win their 98th ATP doubles title together this week, are closing in on 100 titles. Individually, Mike Bryan has 99 titles and Bob has 97.

ZIMONJIC FOR SIX? Tour veteran Nenad Zimonjic is seeking his sixth Monte-Carlo title. The 37-year-old, who is teaming up with Daniel Nestor this week, has emerged victorious here five times with four different partners – Julien Benneteau (2013), Nestor (2010 & 2009), Leander Paes (2005) and Tim Henman (2004). Each time the Serb has won the title here, he has defended it the next year. In total, there are six former champions in this year’s draw. Benneteau, who lifted the title alongside Zimonjic last season, partners compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin and two-time champion Max Mirnyi joins forced with Mikhail Youzhny

DAY 1 FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS

COURT CENTRAL

Igor Sijsling (NED) vs Jeremy Chardy (FRA)


FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Other Meetings:

2007 Alphen aan den Rijn CH (The Netherlands) Clay R16 Jeremy Chardy 6-2 6-7(6) 6-2

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs [17] Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Gulbis leads 1-0

2011 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Clay R64 Ernests Gulbis 6-1 6-4

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs [WC] Dominic Thiem (AUT)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Other Meetings:

2013 Bucharest Q (Romania) Clay — Nicolas Mahut 6-3 6-4

COURT DES PRINCES

Robin Haase (NED) vs Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)


FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

OTHER FIRST ROUND FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS – In Draw Order

Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs Pablo Andujar (ESP)


FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Other Meetings:

2007 Tunis CH (Tunisia) Clay R16 Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-4
2010 Orbetello CH (Italy) Clay F Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-3
2011 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati Q Hard — Roger-Vasselin 6-3 5-7 6-0

Andreas Seppi (ITA) vs [13] Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Youzhny leads 4-0

2006 ATP Masters 1000 Rome (Italy) Clay R64 Mikhail Youzhny 6-2 7-6(7)
2008 Australian Open (Australia) Hard R64 Mikhail Youzhny 4-6 7-5 6-3 7-6(4)
2008 ATP Masters 1000 Toronto (Canada) Hard R64 Mikhail Youzhny 7-6(1) 6-2
2009 Marseille (France) Hard R16 Mikhail Youzhny 7-6(2) 6-3

[12] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs Marcel Granollers (ESP)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Granollers leads 1-0

2013 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Montreal Hard R64 M Granollers 6-4 6-4

Other Meetings:

2009 Segovia CH (Spain) Hard QF M Granollers 6-4 2-6 7-5

Marin Cilic (CRO) vs Fernando Verdasco (ESP)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Series tied 4-4

2007 St. Petersburg (Russia) Carpet SF F Verdasco 6-2 6-3
2008 Nottingham (Great Britain) Grass SF F Verdasco 6-3 6-1
2008 ATP Masters1000 Madrid (Spain) Hard R32 Marin Cilic 6-2 6-3
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris Hard R16 Marin Cilic 3-6 6-3 6-4
2010 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Hard R16 F Verdasco 6-4 7-6(3)
2011 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris Hard R64 F Verdasco 3-6 6-2 6-3
2012 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Shanghai Hard R16 Marin Cilic 4-6 6-1 6-4
2012 Valencia (Spain) Hard R16 Marin Cilic 6-1 6-4

Julien Benneteau (FRA) vs Jurgen Melzer (AUT)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Benneteau leads 5-2

2003 Stockholm (Sweden) Hard R32 Julien Benneteau 6-1 6-1
2007 ATP Masters Series Indian Wells (U.S.A.) Hard R64 Julien Benneteau 6-4 6-4
2009 Dubai (U.A.E.) Hard R32 Julien Benneteau 1-6 6-3 6-3
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (Italy) Clay R64 Jurgen Melzer 3-6 6-2 6-3
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati Hard R32 Julien Benneteau 6-2 3-6 6-2
2011 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells Hard R64 Jurgen Melzer 1-6 6-1 6-4
2012 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Clay R32 Julien Benneteau 6-4 6-3

Federico Delbonis (ARG) vs Yen Hsun-Lu (TPE)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [WC] Simone Bolelli (ITA)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Series tied 1-1

2008 ATP Masters1000 Miami (U.S.A.) Hard R64 Simone Bolelli 6-4 6-3
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (Italy) Clay R64 P Kohlschreiber 4-6 6-1 6-0

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs Vasek Pospisil (CAN)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Joao Sousa (POR) vs [10] Fabio Fognini (ITA)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs Ivo Karlovic (CRO)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Stepanek leads 3-1

2004 Stuttgart (Germany) Clay R16 R Stepanek 6-2 7-5
2005 Milan (Italy) Carpet R16 R Stepanek 7-6(7) 4-6 7-6(5)
2009 CRO vs. CZE WG SF (Croatia) Clay RR R Stepanek 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-6(6) 6-7(2) 16-14
2010 Australian Open (Australia) Hard R128 Ivo Karlovic 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 3-6 6-4

[WC] Benjamin Balleret (MON) vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

[14] Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs Gael Monfils (FRA)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Monfils leads 2-0

2011 Stockholm (Sweden) Hard QF Gael Monfils 7-5 7-5
2012 Bangkok (Thailand) Hard R32 Gael Monfils 6-4 2-6 7-5


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