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Tennis Update: Nadal, Djokovic Stumble in Monte Carlo Masters

The world’s top two men’s singles netters are Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. They were surprisingly booted out in the Monte Carlo Masters. Nadal, an 11-time champion in Monte Carlo Masters, was stunned by Russian up-and-comer Andrey Rublev in three sets in the quarterfinals. It was only the second time in 16 Monte Carlo tournaments that overthrew the Spanish tennis star.

The 23-year-old Russian attacked the 20-time Grand Slam champion in the first set. It started with his powerful forehand en route to winning the set at 6-2. Nadal seemed to have restored order in the second and forced a decider at 6-4. But, Rublev denied any hope of a big comeback by pressuring his foe. Through a series of attacks, he destroyed the Spaniard’s rhythm en route to another 6-2 victory.

Sports betting websites favor Nadal to win his 14th French Open and 21st Grand Slam title next month at Roland Garros. However, he succumbed to seven double-faults – five in the first set – conceded 15 breakpoints, and dropped serve seven times. The first set was tragic for the Spaniard. He had 13 unforced errors and won just 48% of his first serves.

Rublev’s next opponent will be Norwegian Casper Ruud, who defeated former champion Fabio Fognini in straight sets.

Completing the semifinal cast was Stefanos Tsitsipas. He advanced to the last four when Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich withdrew after losing the first set. Joining him is Dan Evans. He edged past David Goffin, 5-7 6-3 6-4. Evans was the same person who defeated top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the last 16.

Evans Drops Djokovic

The Briton caused a stir on Thursday as he surprised world number one Djokovic, 6-4 7-5. Evans was able to break the Serbian’s serve five times en route to the victory. Djokovic played out of his element against Evans as he recorded 45 unforced errors during the match. The 33rd-ranked netter had not won a tour-level match on clay since April 2017.  A round earlier, he outclassed Miami Open winner Hubert Hurkacz.

Effect on Their French Open Preparations

The ouster of both Nadal and Djokovic scuppered what could have been an awesome clay court tussle between two of today’s top netters in Monte Carlo. This also means that the Monte Carlo Masters will have a new champion. The semifinalists – Rublev, Evans, Tsitsipas, and Ruud – have not yet won the clay-court tournament.

The losses of Nadal and Djokovic in Monte Carlo may only inflict little damage. This is pertaining to their quest to gain the second Grand Slam tennis event, the French Open. However, it gives extra motivation for the likes of Rublev and Evans. They dream of beating the two stars again on clay. As for the betting side, the twin setbacks could affect tennis oddsmakers, who bet on Nadal and Djokovic to slug it out in the latter rounds of the Monte Carlo Masters. On the flip side, it could give those bettors who picked other netters not named Djokovic and/or Nadal bigger incentives as they have bet against the favorites which is a risky but impressive move.

Other Updates

In other tennis news, many-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion Venus Williams will play in the Madrid Open on April 29. According to the organizers of the tournament, the 40-year-old American, who reached the Madrid final in 2010, will play as a wildcard. The field includes women’s top seed Ashleigh Barty, Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka, European tennis stars Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova.

Meanwhile, Djokovic’s tennis center in the Serbian capital Belgrade will host a second clay-court event just before the French Open. The Novak Tennis Center plans to hold a tennis tournament next week just before the sport’s second Grand Slam. But in its latest announcement, the Association of Tennis Professionals has picked the tennis court to host another event on May 24.

This is to fill the gap left by the decision of French Open organizers to reset the tournament back by one week. The decision also affects the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma. They plan to include it in the schedule that week.

Aside from causing havoc in some tournaments in Europe, the French Open’s plan likewise hurt the grass-court season that usually follows the end of the European clay-court swing. This has caused the event scheduled to take place in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands to be postponed for a second straight year. However, the Stuttgart event will push through on June 7 even if it clashes with the second week of the clay-court major tournament.