Saturday, 16 April 2016

Nadal and Monte Carlo - ominous

Monte Carlo is exciting, and the tennis players' appearance each year for the Masters certainly adds to the variety. Fame and fortune is surely not out of place as the horribly wealthy and adored Roger Federer and the like slip into the paparazzi zone for a week or so racquet work and cash splash.

On the court, the horror of Novak Djokovic's loss has almost been accepted, and we are actually to the semi final stage - apologies for not reporting the lead up but it has been rather mundane compared to the off court Monte Carlo life style.

However,  the quarter finals were of interest.  David Ferrer had withdrawn from the tournament, meaning that Marcel Granollers took his spot as a lucky loser from qualifying. More pain for Novak as that would have been his quarter final opposition and a much easier run to an expected semi with Federer.

Of course Federer was smiling (and he rarely does) with Novak's disappearance, winning his way through Garcia-Lopez and Bautista Agut to reach another quarter final, this one against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  No worries for Roger with a 11-5 record and the last time they played here in 2014 Federer won.

This time the Swiss great took the first set 6-3 in a dominant display, breaking the French serve three times and appearing likely to run away with the win.
However, Jo-Wilfried has had this habit of annoying Roger in big matches in the past, and he did it again, thrashing the former number one 6-2 in set two to even the clash.

Set three was a thriller with Federer serving first, placing pressure on Tsonga to hold serve to stay level.  Tsonga was up to the task, and more, breaking Federer and winning the battle 3-6 6-2 7-5.  Another missed opportunity for Roger to win Monte Carlo, one of the few titles that he hasn't captured in his illustrious career.

A French player will be in the final, because Gael Monfils will be Tsonga's semi final opponent.  Monfils is enjoying perhaps his best season, and he took advantage of the draw, playing and defeating Vesely after Vesely had removed Djokovic from the Monfils  diary.  Then not having Ferrer, but lucky loser Granollers to remove, meant that Gael is a semi finalist without having played a seed.

The bottom half of the draw saw Nadal breeze through his matches, including the quarter final against Stan Wawrinka in a straight sets clay court lesson.  Rafa is looking the player to beat in a tournament that he basically owns - he leased it out to Djokovic temporarily last year, but he wants it back now - and he should rake care of Andy Murray in the other semi final.

Murray was impressive in his 6-2 6-0 whipping of Milos Raonic but even his rapid improvement on clay doesn't convince me that he has enough weapons to hold up against the King of Clay.

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