After the brutal grind of the American hard court swing, there’s nothing like the Monte Carlo Masters to restore a tennis fan’s calm and composure. It’s as iconic as Roland Garros but without the muddy, hissing intensity. Yes, it can feel as aloof as an heiress waiting for her driver in the lobby of the Hotel Metropole, but there’s no denying its privileged allure.
Roger Federer, himself, couldn’t wait to leave the molasses slow hardcourts of Miami to play on the real deal red stuff. Here he is, finding the 24 karat lining after his lackluster loss to Rafael Nadal a couple weeks ago:
“I’m excited going Monaco now. I’m going to fly there directly and prepare as well as I can for the clay court season. It’s a big swing coming up now in Europe, so that’s the mindset. Yeah, I want to do well and I want to do better. I got the opportunity in a couple weeks already.”
That’s the spirit, Monsieur Rolex! For me, Roger Federer in Monte Carlo brings two happy memories to mind.
The unveiling of Mirka’s massive engagement ring:
Via Hello! Magazine
And of course, the infamous “Be quiet!” moment:
I know, I know – it just still cracks me up! Just like Monte Carlo, itself – Roger’s all glitter and hauteur. What’s not to love?
With Novak “The Unbeatable” Djokovic pulling out with a knee injury (now who’s going to star in the variety show?), Rafa and Roger are back to being on opposite sides. Nadal is the six-time defending champion (!) and Roger has yet to win the title in the Principality. So is there really any need to comb through the draw? Well, if you insist. . .
Rafa’s Half: Richard Gasquet is Rafa’s seeded Round of 16 and Tomas Berdych is his likely date in the quarterfinal. No. 3 seed Andy Murray, a last-minute wild card entrant, is Rafa’s on-paper semifinal. The Scot goes into this tournament on a four match losing streak, however, and faces the winner of Baghdatis vs. Stepanek in his first match on his least favorite surface. Gilles Simon is Murray’s possible round of 16 and Gael Monfils – no slouch on clay – is his seeded quarterfinal opponent.
Roger’s Half: Roger may have a first round bye, but it won’t be smooth sailing for him at the Monte Carlo Country Club next week. He could get Philipp Kohlschreiber in his first match and Marin Cilic in the Round of 16. Nico Almagro, the Nadal of this year’s Latin American “Golden Swing” of clay court tournies, is his likely quarterfinal opponent. Fernando Verdasco and 4th-seeded David Ferrer lurk in the semis.
I’d love to make a renegade pick for the title, but the idea of anyone other that Rafael Nadal taking home the trophy approaches the absurd – although I was looking forward to watching Novak Djokovic try to break one winning streak with another.
But who am I to judge?