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Monte Carlo Masters Day 3 Predictions – Including Novak Djokovic vs Philipp Kohlschreiber

After two excellent days of tennis at the Monte Carlo Country Club in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, the quality on display looks set to rise further still as the big-hitters enter the fray. Amongst those in action on day three is two-time champion and world #1 Novak Djokovic. 2014 US Open champion and seventh seed Marin Cilic will also be taking to the court in Monte Carlo for the first time this year, as will wild card Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. But who will advance?

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Taylor Fritz (first on Court Rainier III)

In the first meeting between the pair, Frenchman Tsonga will take on Taylor Fritz of the USA. Tsonga, who has struggled badly with injuries and illness over the past few seasons, finds himself ranked outside the top 100. However, he has made an impressive 14-5 start to the year, highlighted by winning the Open Sud de France and he also impressed in reaching the last four in Marrakesh (lost to Paire). Fritz, meanwhile, has endured a difficult start to the year, winning just four matches at tour-level. Last time out, he fell 2-6 6-4 2-6 in first-round action to Marcel Granollers in Houston.

The American does move well and possesses reliable groundstrokes and a useful first serve. But he may need more than that against the big-hitting Tsonga. Though he is no longer the force he once was, with his backhand increasingly frail and his athleticism declining, when he gets on a roll Tsonga is hard to stop. His first serve remains a thunderous weapon and he can take the racquet out of his opponents hand when allowed time on the ball on his forehand. Fritz, no clay-court specialist, seems in real danger of allowing him just that.

Tsonga in two
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Marin Cilic vs Guido Pella (second on Court Rainier III)

Cilic arrives at the Monte Carlo Masters having played just eight matches at tour-level, winning four, after a dreadful start to the year which has seen him fall out of the top ten. However, he will have the opportunity of avenging last season’s shocking 6-3 6-1 4-6 7-6 7-5 defeat in the second round at Wimbledon at the hands of Guido Pella when he takes on the Argentine in the second round in Monte Carlo. However, victory will be far from assured for the out of form Croatian, with Pella having impressed in rallying past Serbia’s Laslo Djere 6-7 6-2 6-4 in the first round.

Nor is Cilic typically at his best on the red clay. Though he does not want for power, particularly on his forehand side, he prefers a faster court, where he is less reliant on having to inject all the pace himself. He will also likely get little from Pella in the way of unforced errors. The Argentine, who claimed the Sao Paolo Open title in March, covers the court superbly well and is rock-solid off both his forehand and backhand. However, he may struggle to impose himself against Cilic and could well allow the seventh seed to develop a rhythm. That would not bode well for Pella.

Cilic in three
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Novak Djokovic vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (third on Court Rainier III)

Top seed Djokovic will also be out for revenge when he takes on Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third match of the day. The Serbian star suffered a surprising reverse at the hands of Kohlschreiber in the third round in Indian Wells, in what was a generally disappointing Sunshine Double for the world’s best. Back on the clay, he will be hoping to put that behind him and recapture the sort of form that saw him storm to the Australian Open title earlier in the season. But Kohlschreiber looked very sharp in dismissing Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1 6-3 in the first round and will surely be full of confidence.

However, his win in Indian Wells was just his second in ten matches against Djokovic. That, one suspects, is the result of Kohlschreiber’s lack of firepower. Though the German has a very solid game, including a picture perfect one-hander, he struggles to hit through opponents. Djokovic, in contrast, can inject surprising power into his groundstrokes and spreads the court superbly. He is also the better server and returner of the two by some distance. A tough test to kick off his clay court swing, but one he should have enough to pass.

Djokovic in three
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Stan Wawrinka vs Marco Cecchinato (fourth on Court Rainier III)

In a battle of the one-handed backhands, 2014 Monte Carlo champion Stan Wawrinka will take on 2018 Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, seeded 11th, in their first career meeting. Wawrinka, who missed much of the last two seasons with a serious knee injury, has, slowly but surely, been looking like the player who won three Majors between 2014 and 2016. He could well prove to be a real force during this clay-court season. The Swiss certainly looked sharp in besting Australian Open semifinalist Lucas Pouille in straight sets, 7-5 6-3.

Cecchinato, meanwhile, advanced courtesy of Damir Dzumhur’s retirement after he had won the first four games. But with significant points to defend in Budapest and then Paris, he will be hoping to put together a deep run in the Principality, after an inconsistent start to the season. Both men are accomplished clay courters, with the ability to summon a winner out of almost nothing. But if this match turns into a toe-to-toe slugging contest, it is hard to look past the Swiss, though he will surely have to work for his win.

Wawrinka in three

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