World no. 55 ranked Jiri Vesley of the Czech Republic has caused the biggest upset of the year with a stunning three set defeat of the two time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-4,2-6, 6-4 to advance to the round of 16 at the picturesque Monte Carlo country club in this the first of the three ATP 1000 event on the European clay court season.
The top seed who was champion here in 2013 and 2015, and who lives in Monte Carlo, had only lost one match at the quarter final of the Dubai Dutyfree ATP 500 event in February to the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez as he retired due to an eye infection after dropping the first set. He was 28-1 for the season having won titles in Doha, the Australian Open in Melbourne, and then in Indian Wells and Miami.
It also was Djokovic’s earliest loss on the ATP World Tour in three years, since loosing to the Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov at the Mutua Madrid Open in 2013. Vesley was denied a match point on Djokovic’s serve at 5-3 in the decider but held his nerve while serving out the match in two hours six minutes.
Vesley broke serve after squandering three break points and took the first set 6-4. From 2-2 in the second set Djokovic won four games in a row to take the second set 6-2. He broke serve twice but was also broken once in the decider but served his way out of trouble taking the third set 6-3.
The eight time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal of Spain had an easy 6-3,6-3 win over Aljaz Bedene on Wednesday, while the 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland defeated the German Philippe Kohlschreiber 7-6(2),7-5. Tomas Berdych was upset by Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina in three sets. However the young guns Dominic Thiem of Austria, Milos Raonic of Canada and the Belgian David Goffin survived three sets to advance into the round of sixteen.
On Tuesday, Roger Federer playing for the first time since loosing to Novak Djokovic in the semi final of the Australian Open in January, had an easy 6-3,6-4 win over the veteran Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez, while Andy Murray was taken to three sets by the Frenchman Pierre Hughes Herbert before winning 6-2,4-6,6-3. Federer next faces the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, while Murray takes on another Frenchman Benoit Paire.
All eyes were on the German teenager Alexander Zverev who was facing the seasoned campaigner Marcel Granollers of Spain. The doubles specialist Granollers broke serve six times in the match to win 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
The following is the list of matches in the round of sixteen with my pick mentioned first :-
Jiri Vesley (-) v. Gael Monfils (13)
Roger Federer (3) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (14)
Dominic Thiem (12) v. Rafael Nadal (5)
Stanislas Wawrinka (4) v. Giles Simon (15)
Milos Raonic (10) v. Damir Dzumhur (-)
Andy Murray (2) v. Benoit Paire (16)
Jo Wilfred Tsonga (8) v. Lucas Pouille (-)
David Goffin (11) v. Marcel Granollers (-)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]