The ATP Tour’s European clay tour will kick off in style at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the third ATP Masters 1000 event of the season and the first on this surface.
Two-time champion Novak Djokovic, back at world No. 1, will lead the field in his first competitive action since Dubai in February. Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas is aiming for his first title of 2022, while Miami champion Carlos Alcaraz will look to continue to amaze with his exploits despite his youth.
ATPTour.com takes a look at 10 things to watch this week.
See tables: Single | Double
1) Djokovic will play his second ATP Tour event of 2022: after a quarter-final defeat in Dubai saw him relinquish top spot in the ATP rankings, Djokovic returns to Monte Carlo as world No. But he will have a tough draw: he could meet Alcaraz in the quarter-finals and could see 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut or Daniel Evans in the third round. Precisely, the Briton ended his Monte Carlo 2021 race in the round of 16 a year ago.
On Monday, Djokovic will begin his 365th week atop the ATP rankings, extending his own record. The 34-year-old won the Monte Carlo title in 2013 and 2015 and has a 35-12 record at the Monaco event.
2) Tsitsipas, third seed for the defense of the title: Tsitsipas’ 2021 Monte Carlo title brought him even more success on red clay. After winning the trophy without dropping a set, he reached the final in Barcelona, won the title in Lyon and reached his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros.
Tsitsipas’ seven tour-level titles arrived in Europe, as did his best result on the ATP Tour of the 2022 season to date: a run to the final in Rotterdam. He comes to Monte Carlo after posting 3-2 records at Indian Wells and Miami, and his fourth-round loss to Alcaraz in South Florida stood out as one of the games of the season. The Greek will open against a qualifier in Monaco.
3) Alcaraz, return to clay: The 18-year-old Spaniard grew up on clay courts, but after going 10-1 before reaching the Indian Wells semi-finals and winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami, many wondered if the hard courts would suit him best for your Game.
“All I can say is that I have two titles on clay and one on hard courts,” said Alcaraz. “I feel very comfortable on both surfaces, so I don’t mind playing on clay or on hard courts.”
His two clay-court titles came in Umag last July and in Rio de Janeiro in February. The Murcian will play with the highest ATP ranking of his career (world No. 11) in Monte-Carlo. Ranked eighth in Monaco, Alcaraz could have a third-round showdown with Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz ahead of a possible quarter-final match with Djokovic.
4) Zverev looking to progress in Monte Carlo: Alexander Zverev is a five-time champion at the ATP Masters 1000 level, including three titles on European red clay. The best result in Monte Carlo for the German world number 3 came in 2018, when he reached the semi-finals. He’s 8-5 in the event, but 2-2 in his last two appearances.
Zverev’s best result of 2022 was qualifying for the Montpellier final, where he lost to inaugural ATP Tour champion Alexander Bublik. He enters the European clay tour after reaching the quarter-finals in Miami.
5) Ruud to support surprise Miami final: Casper Ruud surprised himself by reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final on the hard courts of Miami. Now back on her favorite clay, the fourth seed will be looking to improve on her run to the Monte-Carlo semi-finals a year ago. He also reached the Madrid semi-finals in 2021.
Six of Ruud’s seven ATP Tour titles are on clay, although he is still in the hunt for his first Masters 1000 trophy. With a first-round bye, the Norwegian could face Aslan Karatsev in the second round.
6) In search of the second trophy of the season: in addition to Alcaraz, four other Top 10 seeds enter Monte-Carlo with at least one ATP Tour 2022 title to their name: Felix Auger-Aliassime , Andrey Rublev, Cameron Norrie and Taylor Fritz.
Alcaraz and Rublev both have two titles in the season. They join three-time champion Rafael Nadal as the year’s only multiple singles winners. However, the Spaniard will miss Monte Carlo with a stress fracture in his ribs.
7) Wawrinka and Tsonga, guests: Former Top 5 members Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, born 20 days apart, are ranked outside the Top 200 entering Monte-Carlo. Wawrinka, 37, is making his first appearance on the ATP Tour in over a year, since Doha last March, after two left foot surgeries in 2021.
The Swiss, who also plays doubles with Auger-Aliassime, faces Bublik in the first round. Tsonga, 36, recently announced that he will be retiring from Roland Garros next month. The French will open against Marin Cilic.
8) #NextGenATP stars in action: Besides Alcaraz, Italians Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti will lead the way for the young generation in Monte-Carlo (players aged 21 and under).
The ninth-seeded Sinner will face Borna Coric in the first round, while Musetti will face Benoit Paire. Sinner, 20, is making his second Monte Carlo appearance after reaching the second round on his 2021 debut. Musetti, also 20, is aiming for his first victory in Monaco after a first-round exit on his debut last season. .
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9) Fognini defends ATP ranking points: While Fabio Fognini is no longer the defending champion in Monte Carlo, he is defending 500 ATP ranking points from his 2019 title run, 50% of the initial 1,000 points he earned as champion. Those 500 points represent 37% of the Italian world No. 32’s ranking points.
10) Ram/Salisbury Doubles Draw: Joe Salisbury topped the ATP rankings for the first time after reaching the Indian Wells quarter-finals with teammate Rajeev Ram. The pair were rewarded with the top seed in Monte Carlo as they seek a first ATP Tour title in 2022. Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic remain the second seeds, after Pavic lost his ranking of No. 1 in the world for the benefit of the British.
Several individual stars are in the Monte Carlo doubles draw. Besides the Auger-Aliassime/Wawrinka partnership, there’s also power couple Hubert Hurkacz and Sinner. Zverev, Tsitsipas, Rublev and Fritz: other singles players who will play both modalities of the tournament.