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Stefanos Tsitsipas in action at the Miami Open
Free tennis tips, best bets and analysis for this week’s event, the Monte Carlo Masters, which begins on Sunday.
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The Monte Carlo Masters is missing its star attraction in eleven-time champion Rafael Nadal, but the highly anticipated return of world number one Novak Djokovic partly makes up for the king of clay’s absence.
The Serbian was forced to miss all major concerts in 2022 due to coronavirus laws in Australia and America and as a result is only making his second appearance of the year.
Djokovic’s only start came at the Dubai Tennis Championships in February, when he suffered a quarter-final exit at the hands of Jiri Vesely.
Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini also dropped out of the Monte Carlo draw but, even so, there are plenty of reasons to take the top seed.
Not only is Djokovic the most vulnerable on clay, but he has failed to make it past the quarter-final stage in Monte Carlo since his title triumph in 2015 and a lack of precision in matches must also be of concern.
Add to that the fact that he is housed in the same quarter of the draw as rising Spanish star Carlos Alacaraz, who won the Miami Open last week, and it has to be worth looking elsewhere.
The obvious starting point is with defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who climbed to the title last season without dropping a set.
The Greek star has been battling an elbow injury since late last year but some recent results suggest the problem is improving and that’s his surface.
Tsitsipas made the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this season and his last two efforts on that slower surface at the French Open have delivered a run to the last four and a final.
The third seed also landed in the softest quarter of the draw given that Felix Auger-Aliassime has a lot to prove on this ground.
If above his injury, Tsitsipas should get through this section relatively comfortably and would be expected to have the measure of Alexander Zverev or Andrey Rublev, his last victim from 12 months ago, in the last four.
Another fascinating contender is Norwegian ace Casper Ruud, who is also at his best on clay.
The 23-year-old showed in good form in the recent Miami Open final and although beaten by Alcaraz that day, this surface gives him a decent chance for revenge.
Ruud is a seven-time ATP Tour winner and six of those titles have been on clay, including in Buenos Aires earlier this year. At 20-1, he’s equally worthwhile both ways.
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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 3:45 PM, APRIL 9, 2022