Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Semis Preview Nadal Vs Murray Tsonga Vs Monfils
The Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Semis feature Rafa Nadal taking on Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga versus Gael Monfils. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.
Rafa Nadal (4) Vs Andy Murray (2)
This match will really tell us where both men’s levels are at, particularly Nadal.
This event Nadal has had mini struggles in all his matches- failing to serve out both sets vs Bedene the first time he had the chance to do so, facing 17 break points versus Thiem, and losing a break of serve vs Wawrinka in the second set. Nadal survived all of them, an encouraging sign, but was helped a little by his rivals.
Murray will not offer any helping hands at all. The Scot is up for a fight this week, as showcased in his recovering from a set and two breaks down, and a break down in the final set, versus Benoit Paire. But like Nadal, Murray had Paire to help him out a little, and in his 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Milos Raonic he benefited from an injured opponent.
But that is what both Nadal and Murray do so well- take what ever their opponents offer them, be it the mental fragility of Paire or Wawrinka or the abductor injury of Raonic, and then run with it all the way to the finish line.
The question is what weaknesses will they exploit in each other?
Nadal knows Murray can get frustrated under pressure. He knows that if he can overwhelm the Scot with brutal relentless hitting from the baseline, it could get on top of him not just on the court, but, even more destructively, in his head, too.
Murray will be aware Nadal has been struggling with his length of shot, particularly on the forehand, and with his confidence. If Nadal does get a lead, Murray will make him work to close it out, and his solid ball striking will ask plenty of questions of Nadal’s game on the big points.
Watch highlights of when Nadal and Murray met in the Monte Carlo 2011 semis below.
Last year in Madrid, Murray exploited Nadal’s weaknesses royally, and emphasized his own strengths as he used the fast conditions, which complement his game, in Madrid to his advantage and defeated Nadal in straights.
Monte Carlo is a world away from Madrid, though, and Nadal is far away from the player Murray defeated in the Spanish capital. The Rolex Masters courts are slower, which benefits Nadal, and the Spaniard is much more solid, more confident and hitting his forehand down the line better than he was 12 months back.
The Spaniard is king of the Monte Carlo courts, too, winning eight titles there. That will give him some confidence to play with the authority he will need if Murray, who has pushed Nadal hard in a few clay court matches over the course of their rivalry, threatens to inflict a rare loss on him at the venue.
Prediction: Nadal to win. The world No.5 has the advantage in this match up (leads 16-6), plays better on slow clay courts, and is the mentally tougher of the two. When things get tight, those factors should see him through.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (8) Vs Gael Monfils (13)
The next best thing for the the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters crowd after a Federer-Djokovic semi is this one- two of France’s finest shot-makers and entertainers going head to head before a home crowd.
This will be the biggest stakes match between the two. They did meet in the 2012 Doha final, but this match is a chance to make an ATP 1000 final on a surface they both play well on and in their home country. Whoever they face in the final, they are going to have the crowd on their side and that might give them the edge.
The two have met six times, (Tsonga leads 4-2), but this is their first meeting on clay. Both men have had success on the surface, both reaching the Roland Garros semis and the Monte Carlo semis, too, with both men excelling at their very different styles, Tsonga an aggressive shotmaker, Monfils a more defensive one, on a surface which rewards both.
Tsonga will be feeling good, coming in off the back of a tough fought three set win over Federer. Meanwhile Monfils beat lucky loser Marcel Granollers in straightforward fashion.
What this match will come down to is mental toughness, an aspect both men struggle with, which could mean, considering the occasion, this match may have some interesting twists and turns.
Prediction: Tsonga. He has the advantage in the match up and the greater big match experience.
Watch highlights of Tsonga Monte Carlo quarter-final win over Federer below.
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