The first clay court ATP Masters 1000 of the season is finally upon us–the Monte Carlo Country club is the most picturesque of venues and always produces exciting clay court tennis. Tuesday’s action features a mouthwatering clash between last years Monte Carlo Champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, and the 2019 champion Fabio Fognini. Elsewhere last year’s semifinalist Dan Evans looks to open his clay court account against the talented Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi. Santiago Champion Pedro Martinez is also in action, as is Maxime Cressy, who is one of the best players to watch on the ATP Tour Here are my predictions for four of day three’s matches.
ATP Monte Carlo Day 3 Predictions
Ugo Humbert vs Pedro Martinez
Head to Head: First meeting
Pedro Martinez has already showed his clay court prowess in 2022. The Spaniard won his first ATP Title last month in Santiago, defeating Sebastian Baez in a epic three set final. Martinez also reached the final in Kitzbuhel last season, so he has recorded some impressive results on clay. Despite not possessing major firepower in his game, the Spaniard is very difficult to break down from the back of the court. Martinez very rarely beats himself by making unforced errors, and has a consistent rally ball that makes opponents work hard for every point.
Ugo Humbert has had an up and down start to 2022. The Frenchman began the year with a fine win over Danill Medvedev at the ATP Cup, however has struggled for match wins since then. Since January, the Frenchman has only recorded one win on the ATP Tour. This came in the opening round of Indian Wells against Aljaz Bedene. Humbert possesses two big weapons in his serve and forehand, however he has been inconsistent and he needs to improve his tactics and shot selection.
I think this will go to three sets, but Martinez is the better clay court player of the two. I think the Spaniard will record a tight three set win.
Prediction: Martinez in 3
Benjamin Bonzi vs Dan Evans
Head to Head: First Meeting
Dan Evans reached the semifinals in Monte Carlo last year. The Brit enjoyed the best year of his career in 2021, with notable results including a run to the fourth round of the US Open, and a first career ATP Title win at the Murray River Open. Evans made a great start to 2022, winning all of his group matches at the ATP Cup. The Brit followed this up by reaching the semifinals in Sydney. However, since then Evans has struggled to produce his best form. Last week, he lost his first clay court match of the season in Marrakesh against Pablo Andujar.
Benjamin Bonzi has recorded impressive results on the ATP Challenger and Main Tours this season. The Frenchman won the Cherbourg Challenger in February, and followed this up with a run to the semifinals of Marseille. Bonzi played great tennis at Indian Wells, recording two impressive main-draw wins over Arthur Rinderknech and Lorenzo Sonego. The Frenchman is definitely a player to keep an eye on this season. Bonzi will be a dangerous opponent for Evans.
I think this will be a tight three set match. All the pressure will be on the Brit to defend his points from last year, and the Frenchman has plenty of firepower in his game. I think Bonzi will record an upset and will get the win.
Prediction: Bonzi in 3
Maxime Cressy vs Laslo Djere
Head to Head: 1-0 Cressy
Maxime Cressy made an immediate impact on the ATP Tour in 2022, reaching the final of the ATP 250 event in Melbourne. Despite losing a high quality final to Rafael Nadal, The American’s brand of serve and volley tennis has already proved to be highly effective and popular with fans. At the Australian Open, the American reached the third round, and took a set off Daniil Medvedev in a four set defeat. Despite not producing his best form since then, it will be intriguing to see how effective Cressy’s serve and volley tactics are on clay.
Laslo Djere was a semifinalist last week in Marrakesh. The Serb has won an ATP 500 event on clay, which came in 2019 at the Rio Open. However, apart from a run to the quarterfinals of Adelaide in the opening week of the season, Djere has struggled to consistently win matches. However wins over the likes of Jiri Lehecka and Lorenzo Musetti last week will no doubt have increased Djere’s confidence. It will be intriguing to see if the clay court season yields more consistency from the Serb.
It is somewhat unknown how Cressy will fare on the clay. However, I think the American’s big serve will be able to consistently put Djere under pressure on the return of serve. I think the American will get the win in three tight sets.
Prediction: Cressy in 3
Fabio Fognini vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head to Head: 3-0 Tsitsipas
This promises to be one of the most fascinating matches of the tournament so far. Fabio Fognini was the Champion in Monte Carlo in 2019. Despite being up and down in terms of consistency, it is no exaggeration to call him one of the best clay court players of his generation. The Italian is an exceptional mover. Fognini’s short takebacks on his ground-strokes enable him to have more time on the ball. The Italian reached the semifinals in Rio, and he will always be a threat on this surface.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has not produced his best tennis so far this season. The Greek has still been hampered by the elbow injury he felt at the end of last season. This was particularly the case at the ATP Cup. Since then, Tsitsipas has faced trough opponents in Brooksby in Indian Wells, and Alcaraz in Miami. Despite not being in the best of form, the Greek is at his best on the clay. Tsitsipas has a lot of points to defend, so it will be interesting to see if he can replicate last seasons title run in Monte Carlo.
I think this will be a close match. However I expect Tsitsipas to come into this week determined to prove a point. I think he will get the win in three tight sets.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 3
Main Photo from Getty.