ATP Masters 1000 Series: Monte Carlo Masters Selected Fixtures Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We take a look at three of the most mouthwatering Tuesday clashes coming your way from the 2018 Monte Carlo Masters. 

Phillip Kohlschrieber 3/10 vs Tennys Sandgren 24/10
Tennys Sandgren had an excellent week in Houston, losing in the Final to Steve Johnson. It really came from nowhere, with a loss to Malek Zaziri in the Grand Prix Hassan II hardly the greatest precursor to the Houston event. I had the feeling that we may have to wait till the clay-court season to get the best out of the enigmatic American. His game isn’t based on purely huge baselining but relies on intricate court-craft and durability- perfectly suited to clay. He perhaps performed so well in Australia due to the gradually slowing conditions there. So, he will feel quietly confident as he lines up against the durable German.

34-year-old Kohlschrieber has been one of the most durable entities on the ATP Tour, often punching way above his weight in a career that has garnered eight titles and the respect of all. Kohlschrieber had had an innocuous year before a tremendous run to the Indian Wells Quarterfinals- he would go on to narrowly succumb to eventual champion Juan Martin Del Potro in an intense three-set thriller.  Kohlschrieber ordinarily thrives on the harder surfaces and looks way too short against the American this week.

I just must go for the in-form Sandgren at 24/10. He has a game perfectly suited to clay and meets a player in inconsistent form.

Gilles Simon 5/10 vs Adrian Mannarino (Fra) 14/10
An all-French encounter sees Gilles Simon take on the crafty Mannarino. Simon had a decent week at the Grand Prix Hassan, where he went on to lose his Quarterfinal to compatriot Richard Gasquet. He has had a middling season, with Round of 16 showings at the Open 13 and Open Sud de France his best showings prior to last week. So, I suppose there has been some incremental improvement. He has even battled on the Challenger Series, showing signs that he is perhaps nearing the end of his tenure on the tour. Which makes it even more surprising that he currently sits at 5/10 against 16th seed Adrian Mannarino.

Mannarino is one of the more unconventional players on tour. Not only is he a lefty-which is offbeat in and of itself- but his baseline game is less power-based and more finesse. He tends to thrive on frustrating his opponents into error. He started the year decently, making it to the Round of 32 in the Australian Open. He then had a Semi-Final appearance in New York, followed by a Round of 32 finish in Indian Wells. But he is entering a time of the year that should prove productive for him. He has shown excellent consistency on clay and grass over the last few seasons and must have the beating of Simon this week.

Added to that is the fact that Mannarino leads the head-to-head with Simon 2-0; granted, those two victories came way back in 2011. Perhaps Simon has enjoyed a bit of a bump with that Quarterfinal appearance last week, but 14/10 for Mannarino looks good to me. 

Lucas Pouille 1/4 vs Mischa Zverev 5/2
I’m looking towards this encounter as my potential upset for the day. While Pouille has shown himself to be excellent on home turf thus far this season, those events have all taken place on harder courts. Pouille also suffered a shock opening match defeat in Indian Wells, which was quite a dip from that brilliant run to the Dubai Final. Pouille enjoyed that excellent period in France earlier this year, reaching the Open 13 Final before winning that title at the Open Sud de France. So he understandably enters this match as a huge favorite against Zverev.

Playing older brother to a World Number One in waiting isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Mischa Zverev has had a generally disappointing season, though that run to the final 16 at Indian Wells was a timely reminder of how dangerous he can be. The thing that I like about Zverev here- aside from the price at 5/2- is the fact that the two have never met.

Zverev is perhaps the most prolific exponent of the serve and volley on tour, and it may prove quite jolting to Pouille at first. I feel that the serve and volley is oft underestimated on clay, as it is one surefire way to mitigate baseline inadequacies. 

Written by Damien Kayat for

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