Preview and Prediction for the 2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters

Justin OlexaContributor IIIApril 14, 2014

Preview and Prediction for the 2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters

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    Novak Djokovic
    Novak DjokovicMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The clay-court season is officially underway, and the 2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is the first big tournament of the season.

    Monte Carlo is the only ATP Masters Series tournament that is not mandatory for the top players. However, 14 of the Top 20 players are in the field.

    Players like Andy Murray and John Isner have elected to pass on Monte Carlo, but Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are all playing.

    Djokovic won his first title here in 2013, when he ended Nadal's eight-year reign. Nadal will be looking to take back the crown and improve upon his impressive 48-2 record in Monte Carlo. 

    Can Djokovic win his fifth Masters Series event in a row? Or will Nadal or someone else end his run? 

    Let's look at the seeds' chances in Monte Carlo.

    **All Stats Courtesy of atpworldtour.com

Alexandr Dolgopolov (16)

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    Alexandr Dolgopolov
    Alexandr DolgopolovJulian Finney/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Alexandr Dolgopolov is off to a great start in 2014 and goes into the tournament with a record of 18-9. Dolgopolov has impressive wins over Stanislas Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal so far this year, and he made it to the semi-finals in Indian Wells and the quarter-finals in Miami. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Dolgopolov comes in at just 37-40 on clay, but he did win five challenger titles on the surface—suggesting he is comfortable. He made it to the finals in Rio earlier this year and beat David Ferrer there. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Dolgopolov already beat Ernests Gulbis to advance to the second round. If he wins his next match, he will likely face Tomas Berdych in the round of 16—a player he has never beaten. Berdych is 4-0 against him, and I don't see Dolgopolov's first win coming here.

     

Jerzy Janowicz (15)

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    Jerzy Janowicz
    Jerzy JanowiczJeff Gross/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Jerzy Janowicz is off to a slow start in 2014 at just 8-8. He lost his first matches at Indian Wells and Miami and goes into the tournament on a five-match losing streak. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Janowicz's best results have come on the faster surfaces, and he is especially successful during the indoor season. His clay-court record stands at just 8-11.

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Janowicz lost in the first round here a year ago and another early loss would not be surprising. If he does manage to get past his first two opponents, Roger Federer will make sure his run stops there. 

Nicolas Almagro (14)

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    Nicolas Almagro
    Nicolas AlmagroPat Sullivan

    2014 Results

    Nicolas Almagro had been struggling until this past week and has been dealing with injury problems so far this season. However, the Spaniard advanced to the finals in Houston this week, which could prove to be a turning point in his year. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Almagro is a great clay courter. He has a win percentage near 70 per cent, and has won all 12 of his titles on clay. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Almagro will be able to get past Paul-Henri Mathieu and Nicolas Mahut, but he will have a tough matchup in the round of 16. He has a bad record against his two most-likely opponents, and the winner of Fernando Verdasco and Stanislas Wawrinka will be too much for the Spaniard.

Kevin Anderson (13)

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    Kevin Anderson
    Kevin AndersonLuis M. Alvarez

    2014 Results

    Kevin Anderson is off to a hot start this year. His record currently stands at 15-6, and he has appeared in two finals. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    The South African's best results come on hard courts. He is decent on clay, but nothing spectacular and his career record on the surface stands at 26-25.

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Anderson has a very tough first round matchup against Gael Monfils, who has won both of their previous meetings and is a better player on the surface. I see Monfils beating Anderson here.

Mikhail Youhzny (12)

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    Mikhail Youhzny
    Mikhail YouhznyJulian Finney/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Mikhail Youhzny comes in at just 3-4 and has been out since February.   

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    The Russian has had some success on clay, and he has won three titles and is 119-95 for his career.  

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Youhzny has beaten Andres Seppi in all of their past matches, but Pablo Andujar could be a tricky test in the second round. He is a very good player on clay, and Youhzny has not played in a while. If Youhzny does get past Andujar, then Nadal would have no trouble taking him out in the round of 16.

Grigor Dimitrov (11)

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    Grigor Dimitrov
    Grigor DimitrovClive Brunskill/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Grigor Dimitrov is off to the best start of his career. He is 14-5 and won the title in Acapulco. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    While both of Dimitrov's titles have come on hard courts, he does have a good clay-court record at 23-18. He had a strong showing here last year and reached the quarter-finals.

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Dimitrov should not have too much trouble in his first two matches, but will likely have a tough match against David Ferrer next. Ferrer is far more accomplished on clay and has the edge over Dimitrov 3-1. I don't see Dimitrov getting past Ferrer here. 

Tommy Robredo (10)

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    Tommy Robredo
    Tommy RobredoJeff Gross/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Tommy Robredo has been solid in 2014, but he has yet to win a title. He comes in at 11-7 this season and will look to bounce back from an early round loss in Houston. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Robredo has dominated on clay throughout his career: the Spaniard has won 11 titles and has a win percentage close to 70 per cent on the surface. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    After a rough tournament in Houston, look for Robredo to come out strong here. He should not have trouble in his first two matches, and will likely face Milos Raonic in the round of 16. I predict Robredo to upset Raonic with the clay neutralizing Raonic's power game.

    This could set up a match against Stanislas Wawrinka. I like him here as well, with the Spaniard leading their head-to-head matchups 6-2. If he gets past Wawrinka, his run will end against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. 

Fabio Fognini (9)

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    Fabio Fognini
    Fabio FogniniClive Brunskill/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Fabio Fognini comes in at 21-6 on the year. This has been the best season of his career, and he has won a tournament and was a finalist in another.

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Fognini loves to play on the clay courts. He has won three titles, and it is his only surface with a winning record.

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    The Italian should make it through to the round of sixteen before facing a big test against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Even though he is 0-2 against him in his career, he has played much better than the Frenchman this year, and I like him to pull off an upset.

    However, his run will likely end in the next round against Roger Federer, against whom he has won just eight games in five sets. 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (8)

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    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
    Jo-Wilfried TsongaAl Bello/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga comes in at 12-7. He has made one finals appearance in Marseille but has yet to win a title.

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Tsonga's power game works best on the faster surfaces, but he is no slouch on clay either. Although he has never won a title on the surface, he boasts a 64 per cent winning percentage. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    The Frenchman has a bye in the first round and should be able to win against Simone Bolelli or Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. He will then likely face Fabio Fognini. Fognini is playing the best tennis of his career, and has the clay-court game. Look for Tsonga to fall in a close one here. 

Milos Raonic (7)

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    Milos Raonic
    Milos RaonicClive Brunskill/Getty Images

    2014 Results

    Milos Raonic dealt with injuries after the Australian Open, but he came back for Indian Wells and Miami. He reached the quarter-finals in both tournaments and is 8-3 on the year.  

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    The Canadian is still figuring out the clay. His biggest weapons are neutralized on clay, which hurts his attacking game. He has won 56 per cent of his matches on the surface. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Raonic will likely meet Tommy Robredo in his second match. Robredo has had plenty of success on clay and will be a very tough match for Raonic, therefore I see Raonic falling to the veteran Spaniard.  

David Ferrer (6)

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    David Ferrer
    David FerrerUSA TODAY Sports

    2014 Results

    David Ferrer comes in at 19-6 and picked up a title in Buenos Aires. He also advanced to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    The Spaniard has been very successful on clay in his career. Ferrer has developed his game to be successful on all surfaces, but clay is still his best. He has a win percentage of 72 per cent and has won 11 titles. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Ferrer will cruise past Jeremy Chardy to set up a likely matchup against Grigor Dimitrov. I like Ferrer here as he has a 3-1 lead head-to-head and won their only meeting on clay.

    He will then likely face Rafael Nadal. Ferrer is on his best surface here, but Nadal is quite possibly the greatest clay-court player of all time. Nadal leads their head-to-head matchups 21-5, and I expect him to extend that gap here. Ferrer can keep it close, but it Nadal will ultimately progress. 

Tomas Berdych (5)

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    Tomas Berdych
    Tomas BerdychUSA TODAY Sports

    2014 Results

    Tomas Berdych has been playing great in 2014. He won the title in Rotterdam and enters Monte Carlo with a 20-4 record.  

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    While clay is not his best surface, Berdych has faired well on the surface during his career. He has won 65 per cent of his matches and picked up two titles.

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Berdych should not have a problem with Dmitry Tursunov in his opening match; he leads their head-to-head matchups 7-1.

    Alexandr Dolgopolov would likely be his next opponent, and Berdych leads their matchups 4-0 and is the better player on clay. 

    Berdych would then likely play Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Berdych has played him close, but rarely pulls off the win. Djokovic leads their head-to-head matchups 15-2 and is the hottest player on tour. I see Nole winning in a close one. 

Roger Federer (4)

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    Roger Federer
    Roger FedererUSA TODAY Sports

    2014 Results

    After a down 2013, Roger Federer has come back strong in 2014. He owns a record of 24-4 for the year and won the title in Dubai.

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    If it weren't for Rafael Nadal, Federer would have the stats to be up there with the best clay courters of all time, with a 77 per cent win percentage and 11 career titles. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Federer has a good chance to make it to at least the semi-finals in Monte Carlo. He should have no problem in his first two matches and has huge head-to-head leads over Fabio Fognini and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

    Federer will most likely meet Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. Federer leads their matchups 17-16, but I like Djokovic on clay. Djokovic has also been playing some of the best tennis of his career and has won 12 in a row.

Stanislas Wawrinka (3)

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    Stanislas Wawrinka
    Stanislas WawrinkaUSA TODAY Sports

    2014 Results

    Stanislas Wawrinka started off the year by winning his first 14 matches—including Davis Cup—and the Australian Open. He has cooled off since and lost in the round of 16 in Miami and Indian Wells. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Although he won the Australian Open, clay has actually been his best surface. He has won three titles and 66 per cent of his matches on the surface. His best finish here was the semi-finals in 2009. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    The 2014 Australian Open Champion was dealt a very difficult draw, and he will face the winner of Marin Cilic and Fernando Verdasco in the first round. I like him to beat a tired Verdasco there, but then he will likely face Tommy Robredo. 

    Robredo has the head-to-head edge and is 3-0 on clay. I see Wawrinka falling here, but if he does manage a win he won't get past Nadal in the semi-finals. 

Novak Djokovic (2)

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    Novak Djokovic
    Novak DjokovicUSA TODAY Sports

    2014 Results

    Novak Djokovic comes in after winning both Indian Wells and Miami. He owns a 16-2 record this year. 

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Nole has had the most success on hard courts, but he is still great on clay. He often has the best shot at beating Rafael Nadal on the surface. Djokovic has won eight titles and has a winning percentage of 77 per cent. 

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Djokovic should not have a problem in the first three rounds, and he has owned the toughest competition in his potential quarter-final—boasting a 15-2 record against Tomas Berdych. 

    Nole will likely meet Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Although he is down 17-16 in their head-to-head matchups, I like Djokovic to win here. The Serbian has won four of their last five meetings.

    If he gets to the final, Rafael Nadal will likely be waiting for him. Nadal will be looking to avenge his loss to Djokovic last year as well as the defeats from their last three meetings. 

    If it plays out this way, It would definitely be another great match in the rivalry.

Rafael Nadal (1)

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    Rafael Nadal
    Rafael NadalUSA TODAY Sports

    2014 Results

    Rafael Nadal comes in at 21-3 on the year and has picked up titles in Rio and Doha. Nadal was also a finalist in Miami and, of course, at the Australian Open.

     

    Clay-Court Pedigree

    Nadal is considered the "King of Clay" for his incredible record on the surface. He has won eight French Opens, 81 matches in a row, 43 titles and a staggering 93 per cent of his matches on clay.  

     

    Monte-Carlo Prediction

    Nadal will breeze through his first couple matches to likely play David Ferrer in the quarter-finals. Ferrer always puts up a fight, but Nadal still has a 21-5 record against him. 

    If he gets past Ferrer, he has a 19-1 record against the combination of Stanislas Wawrinka and Tommy Robredo. So, he should have no problem advancing to the final if he meets either.  

    Nadal may be the "King of Clay," but Djokovic is playing better and has the mental edge over Nadal right now. After seeing him make light work out of Nadal in Miami, I'll give Djokovic the slight edge and pick him to beat Rafa in the final.