The clay season is in full swing on the ATP Tour as we head to the non-obligatory Monte Carlo Masters. Some players love it, others hate it–one thing’s for sure though, most of the fans adore it, with only one week at Monte Carlo promising extremely high quality matches from the get-go. We’ve looked to predict some of them on the second day of seaside action.
ATP Monte Carlo Day 2 Predictions
Benjamin Bonzi vs Bernabe Zapata Miralles
Head-to-head: Zapata Miralles 1-0 Bonzi (Challenger level)
We weren’t particularly impressed with Benjamin Bonzi in Marrakech, showing a lot of rust in his loss to Pavel Kotov. He’s made many improvements to his game to excel on the hard-courts of the ATP Tour but has maybe lost some of that grinding ability that’s required to win on the red dirt in the process.
We’re expecting him to be fighting an uphill battle in his match with Bernabe Zapata Miralles who will have Bonzi right where he wants him in these conditions.
Prediction: Zapata Miralles in 3.
Dusan Lajovic vs Alexei Popyrin
Head-to-head: First meeting
Think Alexei Popyrin is averse to the clay? The Australian actually has a better win-percentage on the surface than on hard-courts. Watching him play, it’s easy to see why. The serve is still able to win him the odd free point but it’s his forehand that’s a heavy enough weapon to allow him to dictate rallies.
His opponent can be dangerous–Dusan Lajovic didn’t get to the final here accidentally. He doesn’t consistently deliver like he used to but he’ll still give Popyrin plenty to think about, even as a lucky loser. Overall though, we’ll back the momentum of the 23-year-old.
Prediction: Popyrin in 3.
Sebastian Baez vs Jack Draper
Head-to-head: First meeting
There are a few question marks over Jack Draper’s health as the Brit retired to Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells last month. Assuming he’s a little below his best, this one could be very tough for him to win.
Sebastian Baez will hurt Draper if he doesn’t find a way to finish points early. With the serve slowed down, the backhand not as effective with its flat delivery and the forehand not looking exceptionally daunting, Draper might struggle to become a proper threat on this surface beyond out-rallying his opponents. Maybe his quality will eventually surprise us but this is a very unlucky first-round if he was hoping to ease his way into the clay season.
Prediction: Baez in 2.
Andy Murray vs Alex De Minaur
Head-to-head: De Minaur 2-0 Murray
Last year, Alex De Minaur showed the tour he can be a threat on this surface. He changed up his returning style and the shape of his shots to find a way to bother some of the best in the business, holding two match points in his Barcelona semifinal against Carlos Alcaraz and defeating Cam Norrie in the match before.
On the other side of the net, Andy Murray hasn’t played on slow clay since 2020 when lost to Stan Wawrinka in three easy sets at the French Open. Before that match, it was his epic five-set loss to the same opponent in the semifinals of the same tournament in 2017. Though there’s quiet optimism in the Murray corner given some of his performances this year, the safe bet says his movement out of that forehand corner won’t have improved much in the last three years.
Prediction: De Minaur in 2.
Main Photo Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports