As the Monte Carlo Masters gets underway, the buzz is beginning to build around just who exactly will surge to dominance on the clay courts of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, this coming week. With some first round ties already completed, the pack is already thinning and with that in mind, there is no better time than now to take a look at several stars that are likely to shine in Monte Carlo.
Novak Djokovic began the year in scintillating fashion when achieving glory at the Australian Open - and the Serbian hasn't looked back since. Afforded a first round bye, 'The Djok' has undoubtedly had it easier than others in advancing to the second round, but it likely won't cause him any ring rust. Djokovic most recently moved to 6th place in the rankings for the most weeks spent atop the ATP World Tour Rankings and with a near-5000 point lead over second placed Roger Federer, he won't be dethroned any time soon. These astounding stats are paired with the fact that Djokovic won both the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open prior to this event, meaning he will likely want to make it a hat-trick and add to his stellar resume for 2015.
.@djokernole now 6th all-time for most weeks at No.1 in #Emirates #ATP Rankings. Tribute: http://t.co/QhuCSPpaSg pic.twitter.com/so5woJ26uy
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) April 13, 2015
Wawrinka shocked the world when not only winning the Australian Open in 2014, but also when scalping a victory over Roger Federer to take the Monte Carlo Masters crown home with him last time out. Wawrinka played the aformentioned Djokovic through a gruelling five sets before ultimately losing out in the Australian Open this year and his form managed to remain consistent - until around two months ago it seems. Since then Wawrinka has defeated just one tennis player (Carlos Berlocq) ranked within the top 100 and it appears that this tournament could go either way for the 30-year-old. One thing is for certain though, whatever happens this tournament for Wawwrinka, all eyes will be on him.
Rafa has slipped under the radar in recent years due to persistent injury problems, but that doesn't mean he is no longer able to punish the best of them at a moment's notice - especially on the clay courts of Monte Carlo. Nadal has won the competition as many as eight times and when you also factor in his nine French Open wins - which is also played on clay courts - there is every reason to believe he can emerge as a front-runner for success at this tournament. Leading bookmakers such as betfair have already listed the Spaniard as the favourite for success later in the year at the French Open, meaning that that Rafa's precense around clay courts is something to behold. Perhaps the 'King of Clay' can strike once again and earn himself an uprecedented ninth singles title.
For an unknown reason, the Monte Carlo Masters crown has eluded Federer througout his entire career. He has reached the final as many as four times but each defeat appears to be a little more painful than the last, and that may have taken it's toll on the Swiss sensation. Such a storied career seemingly can't end without 'Fed' finally achieving glory in Monte Carlo, but in truth it all depends on whether he can maintain the composure to beat the likes of Nadal and Djokovic. He has, however, suffered on clay courts in recent seasons and this could be evidence of an ageing veteran who is slowly entering his hayday. The ATP rankings prove different however, so it will be interesting to see if Federer can pull another rabbit out of his seemingly-bottomless box of tricks. It would certainly be a fairytale story if he was to achieve glory come Sunday in France.