Top players unveiled their expectations
The first Sunday of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters continues its tradition of giving the credited international and local media the opportunity to meet the top best players of the tournament in a round table format, to unveil their expectations approaching their first clay Masters 1000 of the season. There is a challenge all of them face, the difficulty to transition from hard to clay.
Below are some of the interviews’ highlights:
World No. 1 Serbian Novak Djokovic (31 years old) is ready to tackle clay but acknowledges that No.2 Spaniard Rafael Nadal is the man to beat on the slowest clay courts on Tour. “I think Rafa is obviously always a very clear favorite on any clay court in the world and that doesn’t change. He’s still there,” Djokovic said. “If he’s physically fit he’s definitely the No. 1 guy on this surface, without a doubt.”
Djokovic has a 32-10 record in Monte-Carlo, and it has not been the very best tournament, but the Principality is his home, where he trains, and to him, it feels like a home-court advantage.
World No. 5 Dominique Thiem (25 years old) looks well prepared for his clay season. Last year, Thiem advanced to his first quarter-final in Monte-Carlo. The Austrian star defeated current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in three sets to reach the last eight before falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.
“I think that as long as Rafa is playing, he will always be the top favorite for any clay-court title, but I think there are more serious challenges to him than the in past years,” Thiem said. “Sascha [Zverev is] always [a threat] and Novak is back on the top of his game and, I hope, me. There are the really young guys like Felix, I think he likes clay a lot. He played amazing in Miami and [there are] also other very young guys like Stefanos and Shapovalov. There are many challenges for Rafa.”
World No. 8 Greek-God Stefano Tsitsipas (20 years old) recalled that when he was 8 years old he met Novak Djokovic who was World No. 3, for the first time on the court of the Monte-Carlo Country Club. Stefano’s father told him that one day he would be facing Djoko on the court, and it seemed crazy at the time. But being on the same side of the Draw this year, Stefano ranked No. 8 may get to face today’s World No. 1 in Monte-Carlo. Tsitsipas already acquired the taste of defeating Djokovic in three sets at the 2018 Rogers Cup.
Tsitsipas commented about playing on clay: « Clay is the surface I’ve played the most on over the years. When I come back to it, I feel very comfortable and familiar with what I have to do. I have a better connection with clay than any other surface. »
World No. 6 Japanese Kei Nishikori (29 years old), did not have a great start of the year but is happy to play on clay and hopes to improve his game. He likes playing on clay where he can use his speed. He has been practicing after Miami and believes he has a chance in Monte-Carlo.
World No. 11 Croatian Marin Cilic (30 years old), loves to play at home in Monte-Carlo in front of packed bleachers in all the playing courts as well as the practicing courts. He had taken some time off due to knee issues until they were resolved and hopes to have a good chance in this tournament and he had good results last year in clay. He agrees that switching from hard to clay is challenging for everybody, but playing in Monte-Carlo is a very good motivation for him.
Prince Albert II received the stars of tennis at his Palace
This Sunday afternoon, eleven of the best players participating in the Tournament had the immense privilege of being received by H.S.H. Prince Albert II at his Palace.
The champions present were: Novak Djokovic (ATP N°1), Rafael Nadal (ATP N°2), eleven times winner of the tournament, but also Germany’s Alexander Zverev (ATP N°3), Austrian Dominic Thiem (ATP N°5), Japan’s Kei Nishikori (ATP N°6), and Monaco residents Marin Cilic, David Goffin, Daniil Medvedev, Mischa Zverev, and finally the young Stefanos Tsitispas and Felix Auger-Aliassime, 18 years old, a recent semi-finalist at the Masters 1000 tournament in Miami.
They were accompanied by Baroness Elizabeth-Ann de Massy, President of the Tournament Organizing Committee, and her daughter Mélanie de Massy. After visiting the magnificent Throne Room in the State apartments, they met Prince Albert in the sumptuous Mirror Gallery for a cocktail.
Novak Djokovic, ATP number 1 and Monaco resident, presented Prince Albert II with two tennis balls signed by all the players as a gift for the royal twins Jacques and Gabriella. And Mischa Zverev played the role of an improvised journalist for an interview granted exclusively by Prince Albert.
ATP recognizes Monaco students excelling in Sports education
The ATP supports the local community by recognized students excelling in Sports Education in the schools in the Principality. The objective is to encourage them to be more competitive in physical education, with this new prize not only recognizes intellectual but also physical greatness.
The prizes are directly related to the Member of the ATP tournament, the Monte-Carlo Country Club, and to promote the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, by making it possible for the best athletes of each school with the best tennis professionals. The prize consists of a private tennis class at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. A total of 33 students have received the prize up to this date.
First Prize – Apart from the private tennis class, the best student excelling in Physical and Sportive Education from each school, are invited to meet the best-ranked player of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and receives three first category tickets for the first day of the tournament. A total of 11 students have already received this top prize. All the schools in the Principality, public or private are eligible to participate in this program.
Results of matches played on Sunday, April 14, 2019
Order of Play for Monday, April 16, 2018
“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” Plato