This is a very belated and somewhat brief overview of Monte Carlo. Overall, the tourny had been unfortunate for quite a number of players this year—
- Charly Berlocq: The Monte Carlo tourny started badly for the Argies, with Carlos Berlocq having to retire during his R1 match against Potito Starace. He had a calf injury, which showed in his retirement in Houston last week. He will now take a well-needed rest, although this is a blow for him, considering the run of form he’d been having these past couple of months.
- Pico: Pico, who’s also on a career-high, had to retire in his R1 match after a seriously cringe-inducing ankle injury. During his match against Robin Haase, Pico rolled his ankle. The crowd were mortified at the scene and the photos that later circulated of the ankle-roll were not easy to watch. Pico is currently ranked at a career-high of no. 14. What’s chilling about that stat is the fact that the last time Pico reached the no. 14 ranking in 2008, he rolled his ankle during a match — it took four years for him to recuperate the peak form he’d found, only for him to run into another injury. Pico has withdrawn from Barcelona, the tourny he was originally scheduled to play next week. In a I-can’t-turn-away-from-watching moment, I rewatched Pico’s ankle roll and the subsequent “J-der, j-der” he kept muttering right afterwards. Luckily, he seems to have reboosted his spirits a bit, and posted a video of his rehab from the ankle injury. It really is a strange twist of fate, that one day you’re celebrating a tourny win by jumping into the Houston swimming pool, only to be rehab-ing for a sudden ankle injury that occurred only a few days after that impressive victory.
- Benny: Another player on a career-high, Benny, had to retire at 5-6 during his match against Murray. Benny had been playing a very solid match, pushing Muzz to the limit. Eerily, Benny twisted his ankle and fell on his right wrist on the exact same spot of the court on which Pico rolled his ankle. During Benny’s MTO, Muzz was overheard complaining to ump Carlos Bernardes about the court’s bad conditions — “There are holes in the court, there are holes everywhere,” Muzz said. Maybe Monte Carlo did not sprinkle enough dirt over the back end of the court? That’s inexcusable really, for a wealthy tourny like MC to do a below-par job of maintaining their courts. Somewhat troubling is the news that the same groundstaff responsible for maintaining the MC courts will be taking care of the Roland Garros courts as well.
But Monte Carlo ultimately had a happy ending. Rafa defeated his ultimate-rival-since-2011, Djokovic, in straight sets, to win his 8th straight Monte Carlo title — that makes it 20 Masters titles in total for the 25-year old. That is a jaw-dropping stat. For almost a decade, Rafa has reigned over the principality. In fact, it’s the rare player who’s taken Rafa to even five games in a set at Monte Carlo.
The ATP released a great analysis of how Rafa changed his serve tactics when playing Novak this time around, which saw him hit more FH winners from the deuce court. Not only is Rafa’s win pretty groundbreaking, but he’s taken a great weight off his shoulders and he broke his recent losing streak to Novak.
It should be mentioned that Novak was playing in exceptional circumstances, having lost his grandfather during the tournament. He made the decision to play on throughout the tournament, so credit to him for enduring what was a tough personal time. He recently announced he will be withdrawing from his home tourny, the Belgrade Open, this year. In all likelihood, this move is probably aimed at preparing himself for the French Open, where he will aim for the calendar and career Grand Slam.
Given how Rafa has restored his own confidence and overcome a hurdle in his recent win over Novak, the run-up to RG will certainly be tense times. Rafa is playing Barcelona this week, and he faces fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in his first match.