Fernando Verdasco and the 10 Worst Performances of the Week
Monte-Carlos has come to an end with a record sevend consecutive titles for Mr. Clay.
However there are several players who's road to Roland Garros seem that much farther away.
After collecting most of the results from last week we've seen rather concerning stats coming from players who have had great success on the dirt over the past years, starting with last year's runner-up Fernando Verdasco.
The French Open is only five weeks away which is not a lot of time to regroup for the second major of the season.
As the first Masters 1000 on clay is over we thought it could be interesting to make the top 10 worst performances of the week to give you an idea of who has to pick up his game a notch going to the Madrid Masters—the next big event played two weeks from now.
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
Even if Marcos Baghdatis has never been a true clay court specialist it is still very strange to see the man from Cyprus upset in the first round of Monte-Carlo by Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, who's not very keen with clay either.
Even more, the fact that the 2006 Australian Open finalist lost in the deciding set tie-break 7-9 will certainly be another blow to his confidence.
Baghdatis strokes could be as good as Agassi's when he played at his prime.
The World No. 25 is unlikely to be a major factor in Paris unless he could grab successive victories in the up-coming weeks.
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
Mikhail Youzhny was a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros last year.
The Russian, who is the title holder in Munich on clay, is one of the very few player who can play well on all four surfaces.
Nonetheless, the world No. 14 has lost in the first round of Monte-Carlo to Germany's Florian Mayer, which is one of his worst performance ever.
Waiting forward knowing if it was not just a bad day at the office.
Gaël Monfils (FRA)
Gaël Monfils' entire season has always been dedicated to his one and only dream of winning the French Open. The 2008 Roland Garros semifinalist has all the tools needed to make his dream come true.
However, Monfils past seasons has always been reduced due to his knees injuries.
It must have been very frustrating for the World No. 9 to lose in the quarter-finals of Monte-Carlo to Frederico Gil of Portugal.
Monfils was largely favorite to win this match and reach the semifinals, which would have boost his confidence moving forward.
Ernests Gulbis (LAT)
Ernests Gulbis was one of the only player to have taken a set from Rafa Nadal last year in Rome.
Of course to play the World No. 1 is the ultimate test for any player.
The man from Latvia, who plays a lot like Söderling with big ground strokes on both sides, proved on that occasion he had the game to upset Nadal.
Since then, Gulbis has not had great results.
Moreover, the World's No. 31 lost in the second round of Monte-Carlo to Canada's Milos Raonic.
Some will argue Raonic is the up-coming player of the year, however the Canadian does not have yet the experience Gulbis has on clay.
Gulbis, who was ranked as high as 21 at the beginning of the season, was favored ahead of the match but could not find his game on time, which is not good news moving forward.
Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Age seems to cope with Nikolay Davydenko in 2011.
The movement is a little bit slower than what it used to be from even last year, which is enough to drop in the rankings.
The Russian has won nine clay court tournaments in his career and was a semifinalist at Roland Garros back in 2007.
However, the former World No. 3 lost in the first round of Monte-Carlo to Dutchman Robin Haase, who is more a grass court specialist.
Time is definitely running out for the 2009 World Championship winner.
Tommy Robredo (ESP)
Tommy Robredo is expected to reach the quarterfinals of any clay court tournament he enters.
The former World No. 5 has had consistent results since he turned pro in 1998 only to lose by players ranked above him.
Like Davydenko, the 28-year-old from Spain has lost a little bit of speed which cost him dearly against modern players with big ground strokes.
It still was surprising to see Robredo lose to Serbia's Viktor Troicki in the last-16 of Monte-Carlo.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Like his compatriot Gaël Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has also had to deal with his share of injuries.
The World No. 18 has returned recently from a groin surgery, which explains why he had droped from 10 spots since the start of the season.
The French player is always galvanised by playing in front of the French crowd but his lack of results since the beginning of the season did not help him get the best of the veteran Ivan Ljubicic in the second round of Monte-Carlo.
Nicolas Almagro (ESP)
Nicolas Almagro was on fire since the start of the clay court season.
The World No. 11 won back-to-back titles in Costa do Sauipe, Buenos Aires and was a finalist in Acapulco, beaten by the second-best clay court player of the season David Ferrer.
Almagro's major loss on clay last year came against Rafael Nadal.
Therefore, the Spaniard was favorite against Jurgen Melzer in the quarter-finals of Monte-Carlo.
Despite his semifinal show at the French Open last year, the Austrian did not have great results since the start of the season, which is why Almagro was favorite against Melzer.
However, the World No. 8 came on the court sharp and dictate the match from start to finish, while Almagro played the worst match of the season so far.
Roger Federer (SUI)
We always expect Roger Federer to reach the final of each tournament he enters.
The Swiss has always managed to raise the bar when it mattered during his tremendous career, which is why we are always upset when he lose in the early rounds.
But the reality is Monte-Carlo is not as important as it used to be for the former World number one.
The 29-year-old still enjoys his time on the court and plays great tennis only to get ready for the majors.
Despite a very promising start of the week, Federer could only convert one of seven break points opportunities against the 2010 Roland Garros semifinalist Jurgen Melzer in the quarter-finals.
Federer's performance however was better than what it was two years ago when he lost in the opening round to his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.
Hopes will always be there for the 16-time Grand Slam champion but the margin between him and the other top 10 players is shrinking.
Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
I wish I could give you an answer into why the man who was two points away from beating Rafael Nadal at the 2009 Australian Open semi-final is playing at the shadow of his abilities in 2011.
It could be family matters, or motivation issues, but even in this case Fernando Verdasco has the game to reach at least the quarterfinals of Monte-Carlo.
But instead, last year's runner-up lost in the second round to Tommy Robredo 6-4 6-3 without fighting, which was sad to witness.
At his best, the Madrid resident is one of the very few player who can stand the physical battle imposed by Nadal for a period of five sets.
Let's hope the best for Verdasco, who still has five weeks to improve his confidence level.