Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, has been defeated by Jiri Vesely, ranked 54 places below him.
The Monte Carlo Masters is literally Djokovic’s home tournament and kudos to Vesely for stepping up his game at the right moments and keeping up the fight till the very end. Djokovic was the one who had ended Nadal’s streak of 8 successive Monte Carlo titles in 2013.
Djokovic did not have the best start to this year’s clay season, though he is still the favourite to have a great finish. Djokovic had won 9 out of the past 12 ATP Masters and had reached the finals of 11. This would be the first major tournament in the past 11 months where one could look beyond Djokovic for a winner. Djokovic’s loss could be a boost to others and has now left the tournament open for anyone to win. A couple of years ago nobody would have dared considered anyone but Nadal for a clay court championship, but that flair has been missing for long now. It will be interesting to see who grabs on to this opportunity and comes out on top.
Rafael Nadal had won the tournament for 8 successive years until Djokovic beat him in 2013. He has not won it ever since.
Roger Federer has never won the Monte Carlo masters. He has lost 4 times in the finals (thrice to Nadal and once to Wawrinka)
Andy Murray could add to his Madrid Masters from last year another clay court masters trophy.
The defending French Open champion and the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters champion is not to be discounted and could again prove his dominance on the surface.
Nadal avenged his Buenos Aires’ semi final loss to Dominic Thiem to set up a match against Stan Wawrinka. Nadal v Wawrinka should be an amazing match. A match between 9 time French Open Champion + 8 time Monte Carlo Masters Champion versus reigning French Open Champion + 2014 Monte Carlo Masters Champion. Nadal is undoubtedly the best clay court player ever but Wawrinka has achieved more in the recent past. The only other thing that these two have in common is the fact that both of them have denied Roger Federer the Monte Carlo Masters trophy.
Andy Murray will play Milos Raonic in the Quarterfinals. Raonic has had a very successful season so far and it will be intriguing to see how he fairs in his first clay tournament this year. It would be a tough match which could go either way.
Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal had a great match at Monte Carlo in 2011. If they were to win their respective quarterfinal matches, we could have another semi final between the two.
This is one of those moments where Djokovic seems human. If you look at his stats in the past two seasons, what he has been able to achieve is not remotely humanely and he is not even done yet. But, for this tournament, we shall have a different winner. As of now, just sit back and enjoy the view!