European tennis clay season kick off
This Friday, April 13, 2018, was the Official Draw ceremony of the highly anticipated 112th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, first European tournament of the clay season of the prestigious ATP World Tour Masters 1000 category. The draw, that changes venue every year, took place in the Atrium of the Casino of Monte-Carlo, in the heart of the Principality. The competition will run from Saturday April 14 through Sunday, April 22, 2018, on the courts of the legendary Monte-Carlo Country Club.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal opens the draw
The guest of honor was no other than the defending champion King of Clay, World No. 1 Spaniard Rafael Nadal(b.1986), winner of last year’s tournament, and who will try to conquer his 11th crown, and in the presence of tournament director extraordinaire and former tennis player, the Croatian Zeljko Franulovic, accompanied by Elizabeth-Anne de Massy, President of the Monte-Carlo Country Club and the Monegasque Tennis Federation, her daughter Melanie-Antoinette de Massy, and other distinguished personalities, and members of the local and international media.
The Singles Draw revealed that 31 year-old Rafa will not have an easy road to conquer his 11thcrown in Monte-Carlo and his 54thclay court victory, as he will have to beat three top-10 players in his half: Dominic Thiem (5), Grigor Dimitrov (4), and David Goffin (6), plus former champion Novak Djokovic (13) who we expect will make a come back in his home turf, as he has got in good shape after his elbow operation.
Among other top players on the list: Croatian Marin Cilic (2), finalist of the Australian Open and the young Alexander Zverev (3), Argentine Digo Schwartzman (10), French Lucas Pouillel (7), and clay specialists the Spanish Pablo Carreno Busta (5), Roberto Baustista Agut (11), and Alberto Ramos-Vinolas (15). The French contingent will also count with Richard Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino (16) and Gilles Simon who benefits from a wild card.
Also worth mentioning is Monegasque Lucas Catarina, who also received a wild card who will be facing Canadian Milos Raonic (14) on the first tour.
“I always feel good when I am here, it is one of my favorite tournaments,” said the Spaniard when interviewed by Marc Maury. He is riding a 10-consecutive match victory at the event, but he needs to win to keep the No. 1 ATP ranking, and avoid Roger Federer to reclaim it.
Charity exhibition benefiting Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
Tournament qualifications start tomorrow Saturday, April 14 at 11:00, and the first match will be followed at 13:00 by a charity exhibition benefiting the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. The tennis stars will be playing with the celebrities of the James Corden British show. Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Lucas Pouille, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev will participate in the exhibition. They will face Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls, Liverpool footballer Jaie Redknapp, comedian Josh Widdicombe and the former English Cricket team Freddie Flintoof, among others.
“My motivation and aspiration is the same, being number one or being number five. So that’s the truth. And my goal is the same – it’s to always be happy playing it’s to enjoy the game and keep improving.” Rafael Nadal