The maiden claycourt Masters event of the season is now underway on the red clay of Monte Carlo. This year’s edition marks the 115th chapter of one of the most eagerly awaited events on the tennis calendar.
WhileStefanos Tsitsipas is the defending champion, the major talking points ahead of the Monte-Carlo Masters involve two players who have made a significant impact on the tournament’s history.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have squared off in a number of memorable matches over the years. But one particular encounter in Monte Carlo will be celebrated by the Serb’s fans for many years to come.
The two met in the finals in Monte Carlo in 2009 and 2012, with Nadal triumphing on both occasions. The Spaniard gained a reputation for being unbeatable on clay as he faced Novak Djokovic once again in 2013 in what was his ninth consecutive final in Monte Carlo.
Theeight-time champion looked vulnerable in the quarterfinals against Grigor Dimitrov, dropping a set en route to a shaky 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory. His vulnerability was evident right at the start of the final as well, with Djokovic seizing the initiative early on.Nadal, who was unbeaten in 45 matches in Monte Carlo, was not just trailing – he was clearly struggling to keep pace with the aggression of the Serb.
Djokovic sensed a golden opportunity to end the Spaniard’s eight-year reign in Monte-Carlo and was not about to let it go.After racing to a 5-0 lead, the Serb wrapped up the first set and weathered a bit of resistance from Nadal in the second to come through in a tie-break.
Novak Djokovic had achieved what many thought was close to impossible – he dethroned the King of Clay on his favorite hunting ground, beating him 6-2, 7-6(1).
The Spaniard has a staggering record at Monte Carlo, winning the tournament 11 times
While the King of Clay will miss this year’s edition of the Monte-Carlo Maters due to a rib stress fracture, his great rival Novak Djokovic will be taking part in only his second tournament of the season.
The Serb was unable to defend his Australian Open crown earlier this year due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19. He competed in Dubai but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Jiri Vesely.
Nadalwon the Australian Open in Djokovic’s absence – and, it will be interesting to see if the Serb can add a third Monte-Carlo title to his name in the absence of the 11-time champion.
More so, given the history of their past encounters at the venue.