Tennis action shifts from what was an action-packed hard-court season to clay as Monte Carlo Masters, year's first ATP Masters 1000 tournament on the dirt, begins 16 April in France.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal starts as favourite to win his 10th title in Monte Carlo, especially after his early-season exploits on hard courts. The 14-time Grand Slam champion, who returned from a long injury layoff, ended up as runner-up at Australian Open and Miami Open earlier this year, losing both the title matches to Roger Federer, who will be absent in the upcoming tournament after opting to rest for most part of clay season.
Nadal v Djokovic semi-final on cards [Check out the draw here]
Nadal is expected to face either Kyle Edmund or Daniel Evans in his opening match (second round) and faces a stiff road ahead as he is drawn in the quarter, which also has Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev. The fourth seed is likely to face two-time champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-final if both the players survive the initial rounds.
Djokovic starts as second seed behind world number one Andy Murray. The Serb was ousted in the first round last year by Jiri Vesely in a three-setter but went on to dominate the rest of clay court season and won his first French Open title last year.
However, after an ordinary start to the new season, Djokovic should hit peak form soon if is to stand a chance of winning his third title in Monte Carlo.
Fit-again Murray in Stan Wawrinka's half
Murray, who has recovered in time from an elbow injury, will take on Gilles Muller or Tommy Robredo in the opening clash and is expected to face Marin Cilic or Tomas Berdych in the quarters before a possible semi-final meeting against third seed Wawrinka, who will open his campaign either against Vesely or Mischa Zverev.
Local star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is in Warinka's quarter as well and the Swiss champion will be his biggest hurdle in the tournament.
|12||Roberto Bautista Agut|
|13||Pablo Carreno Busta|