Only one out of the sixteen seeded players is missing from the pre-quarter final line up at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 1000, the third super series event of the year and the first of the three to be played on clay apart from the Madrid and Rome. Only the Latvian Ernest Gulbis, the no. 13 seed who has had a miserable 1-7 start to the year is missing as all the title contenders led by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka have registered impressive straight set wins on their debut on European clay in 2015.
Four time finalist at this event Roger Federer followed arch rival Rafael Nadal on court and defeated Jeremy Chardy with the same scoreline that the Spaniard beat the wild card entry Lucas Pouille of France, 6-2,6-1. Last year’s champion Stanislas Wawrinka opened the proceedings on Day 3 and was equally impressive in his 6-1, 6-4 demolition of the Argentine Juan Monaco. Canada’s fourth seed Milos Raonic also won against Joao Sousa of Brazil 6-3, 7-6 (4). Elsewhere on Day 3, there were good wins for France’s Jo Wilfred Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, Spaniards Tommy Robredo and Roberto Bautista Agut, the lone American left in the draw John Isner, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and the Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov. Djokovic, Ferrer, Cillic and the Austrian Andreas Haider Maurer had progressed to the last 16 on Tuesday.
The round of 16 matches to be played on Thursday with my picks mentioned first is as under :-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Andreas Haider-Maurer (-)
Jo Wilfred Tsonga (11) v. Marin Cilic (8)
Rafael Nadal (3) v. John Isner (15)
David Ferrer (5) v. Giles Simon (10)
Tomas Berdych (6) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (12)
Milos Raonic (4) v. Tommy Robredo (16)
Stanislas Wawrinka (7) v. Grigor Dmitrov (9)
Roger Federer (2) v. Gael Monfils (14)
Djokovic should have a comfortable passanger against the Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer, he awaits the winner of the encounter between the US Open champion Marin Cilic and the charismatic Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga, both of whom missed the early part of the season due to injuries. Another Frenchman Gael Monfils who has troubled Roger Federer in 2014 will look to repeat his upset win against the Swiss as he did in the Davis Cup Final last year, albeit Federer was only half fit after injuring his back at the ATP finals in London which made him concede a walkover to Djokovic in the title match. His Swiss countryman Wawrinka who beat Federer in last year’s final to claim his maiden ATP 1000 crown will have a stern test against the Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov. Should the seeds reach their appointed places it could set up mouth watering quarter-finals between players from the same country where Nadal and Federer can avenge their 2014 losses in Monte Carlo to Ferrer and Wawrinka respectively.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]