Monte Carlo Draws Djokovic and Nadal in Same Half

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In many ways, the clay court season is a new beginning to the tennis season. For whoever have failed to make an impression in 2017 it is not too late. The bulk of the tennis season still remains and although Federer dominated the first few months of 2017 there is still plenty of time for someone else to dominate. Especially since Federer will be missing three Masters events during the clay court season.

In Monte Carlo, the top four seeds are also the top four favorites for the French Open. Djokovic and Nadal fell in the same half which means Murray and Wawrinka are drawn to play in the semis.

Nadal got Zverev in his section of the draw which can get tricky but Djokovic got recent Indian Wells semi-finalist Busta in his section and Thiem or Goffin in the quarters. He seems to be getting one tough draw after the other these days but it’s time he started winning too.

I hope we get a Djokovic vs Nadal semi-final in the bottom half but both have work to do before they get there.

  • The Clay Court Season: Djokovic’s Resurrection?

Since Wimbledon last year, Djokovic had his worst results since 2007 I think. During that 9-month period, he won the Canada Masters and Doha and made the US Open final and the World Tour Finals final.

Some players would love to have those results but given what Djokovic achieved in the 2-year period before that, it was a steep fall. Some people predicted this could happen. And they were right.

But given how successful he was during that 2-year period, it is not that surprising either. It was probably the most successful stretch in tennis history where Djokovic won 6/8 grand slams, 2/2 World Tour Finals, and 10/18 Masters.

Eventually, it was going to take a toll. But despite much talk of Djokovic’s poor form, I don’t think he has been poor in 2017. He started well with the title in Doha where he defeated Murray in the final but then had that shock loss to Istomin in Australia, a couple of tough draws in Acapulco and Indian Wells, and the injury in Maimi.

I think he has played well but failed to string wins together and get back into the winning habit. Eventually, he has to come good again and the clay court season is as good a time as any for that to happen.

There are never any guarantees, but with a Davis Cup victory behind him, no Federer to worry about until Paris, and a slow surface, it is a good opportunity for him to kickstart his season. 2017 is far from a lost cause for Djokovic.

There is currently a lot of hype surrounding Nadal who has shown some signs of improvement in 2017 and although he has won no titles in 2017 yet, many people think he is going to take the clay court season by storm.

Maybe he will. Or maybe he won’t. A meeting in Monte Carlo between him and Djokovic can certainly be a preview of what is to come during the clay court season. Djokovic currently owns Nadal having not lost a set against the Spaniard in their last seven meetings.

Maybe if they meet on clay Nadal will finally get his revenge. Or maybe a match with Nadal is just what Djokovic needs right now to bring out his best tennis again. We will just have to see. Nadal can certainly win a 10th French Open this year.

I definitely won’t dismiss that possibility after what Federer has achieved so far this year. 2017 may be the return of Fedal. But I feel like Djokovic also started 2017 well after he undoubtedly slumped in the second half of 2016. And I think he just may be on the brink of something good himself.

Murray is another player who will be looking to get his season kickstarted on clay after he’s had a disappointing season as number one so far. Last year he certainly proved himself on clay. And then there is Stan whose record on clay speaks for itself.

Let’s get this party started!

Who will win Monte Carlo?

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Federer Withdraws From Madrid and Rome

Apparently, this means Federer is not eligible for a wild card at these events since he withdrew from the entry list. Federer said he probably won’t play any clay events before the French Open and I guess this makes it official.

This is somewhat surprising. I thought Federer might take a wild card at Rome and make a serious run at a second French Open title now that he finally seems to have the better of Nadal while Djokovic has been struggling.

I understand that a record 8th Wimbledon title is important to him and would no doubt be another very impressive achievement but it would also make his grand slam resume 5:1:8:5 which is a bit unbalanced. I think 5:2:7:5 looks better.

None of the big three have done the double career slam. Nadal came awfully close in Australia this year and Federer came pretty close at the French Open in 2011 himself. Federer has also never defeated Nadal at the French Open in five meetings.

Isn’t he making a mistake by not playing at least one warm up event to the French Open? He is playing two warm-up events on grass. Why doesn’t he rather skip one of them and play Rome? He will still be a factor at the French but it’s going to be difficult to win without proper preparation.

The French Open has always been Federer’s Achilles heel and clay has been his most challenging surface because he can’t depend as much on his serve to win cheap points or engage in ‘servebotting’ as some like to call it.

If there is a weakness in Federer’s game it has always been his lack of consistency from the baseline and ability to fight his way through long matches against the likes of Djokovic and prime Nadal. Some say that even the one French Open he won is not legitimate because he depended on someone else to remove Nadal.

A second French Open title would certainly put such talk to bed especially if he defeats Nadal. Sure, a record 8th Wimbledon title has a nice ring to it but I think a second French Open title would be more valuable.

Grass suits Federer’s game to a T. As far as I’m concerned he is already the greatest grass courter of all time. It is on clay where he has something to prove. Not to mention that the calendar slam is still on. And now he is almost skipping the entire clay court season?

Maybe he figures he won’t have any pressure this way which gives him his best chance. But I think his chances are slim with Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, and Wawrinka around if he doesn’t prepare properly.

Djokovic for one will be looking to start over during the clay court season and he has already gotten a much-needed Davis Cup win under his belt. Federer is just going to watch him find his form and win the double career slam?

I’m not saying it is a given but it could very well happen. That would be another significant achievement after the personal slam to set him apart from Federer. His slam resume would be 6:2:3:2.

That double career slam just gives the resume a big boost, regardless of whose resume it is. I think Djokovic is the most complete player ever and a second career slam would certainly prove it. Only Laver and Emerson have won the double career slam and they did it when majors were played only on clay and grass.

Djokovic is already the only man to win four consecutive slams on three different surfaces. I think Federer and his fans are too obsessed with Wimbledon. Sure it is the most important tournament in tennis but in the end, all the majors count for the same and Federer clearly has a lack of balance in his resume concerning clay.

If I was him I’d play at least Rome and put everything into winning another French Open. Federer will have his chances at Wimbledon even if he plays no warmup events!

What do you think?

Djokovic Leads Serbia to Davis Cup Victory Over Spain

Maybe playing Davis Cup was not such a bad idea for Djokovic after all. On Friday he won his singles match against Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 and had a good serving day. Ramos-Vinolas is currently at a career high ranking of 24 after having some good results on the South-American clay court swing this year.

The match was played on indoor hard which doesn’t suit the Spaniard’s game but the fact that it was Davis Cup will give Djokovic a boost I think. I didn’t think it made much sense for him to play this weekend with his chronic elbow problem especially since it was on hard courts just before the clay court season.

But since Troicki won his singles match against Carreno Busta and his doubles match with Zimonjic today as well it means Serbia won the rubber 3-0 and Djokovic doesn’t have to play another singles match tomorrow.

He is written in to play the second singles on the Davis Cup website but according to his own website, his next match will be in Monte Carlo. And according to a Nole fan on Twitter, his personal website is always up to date so I’m gonna assume he made the right decision.

We will only know for sure whether the risk was worth taking if Djokovic stays injury free for at least the clay and grass court season but historically Djokovic has had some good results after winning in Davis Cup.

None less so than in 2010 when Serbia won the Davis Cup which triggered Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak in 2011 which put him 5th on the open era list and still ahead of any of the big four as far as winning streaks go.

I think he took a risk by playing Davis Cup just like he took a risk by playing Acapulco but things fell into place in the sense that he only had to play one singles match and after the match, he sounded optimistic:

“Overall, I’m very happy with my performance and it’s very encouraging because I now know I am on the right path to rediscovering my best form,” Djokovic told a news conference.

“It is no secret that I haven’t been at my best in the last few months. I have lost my momentum but today’s display has convinced me that I can get back to winning ways.

“I served really well against an opponent who can be awkward if given time to tee himself up for his shots. So I tried not to give him any.”

Djokovic also has another week before Monte Carlo now in which he can train on clay and rest his elbow some more. Maybe Davis Cup came at an opportune moment for him just before a very important clay court season because he seems to draw inspiration from it.

It’s been nothing short of a depressing season for him and his fans where nothing is going his way. He needs something to get his season kickstarted and change his luck. Maybe this was it. Time will tell…

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