Day 3 Preview: Djokovic & Tsitsipas Open Campaigns

Tuesday’s action at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will see the conclusion of the singles opening round and the start of the second round, with three of the tournament’s Top 10 seeds in action for the first time.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic returns to the ATP Tour for the first time since February, while third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas faces a tough challenge as he opens his title defence at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

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[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs. A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)

Djokovic will contest his fourth ATP Tour match of the 2022 season when he takes on 22-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Court Rainier III. Following a quarter-final exit in Dubai, his only previous event of the year, the Serb is looking forward to putting a difficult few months behind him.

“I still feel motivated to compete with the young guys and try to challenge them and fight for one of the biggest trophies in our sport,” he said, looking ahead to Monte Carlo, where he lifted the title in 2013 and 2015.

Despite his past success and his comfort at the picturesque Monaco venue where he’s trained for more than a decade, Djokovic is keeping his expectations in check.

“I try not to have too high of expectations for myself, even though I obviously want to play at my best every tournament,” he said. “I’m behind with competitive play against 99 per cent of the players, so it will probably take me some time to find a groove, to find the right momentum and get myself in the rhythm. Hopefully sooner than later. I always want to believe that it can come already [in the] first or second match, but I’m trying to take things step by step.”

In World No. 46 Davidovich Fokina, he faces a stern early test. The Spaniard defeated Marcos Giron, 7-5, 6-3, in his opening match on Sunday and is seeking to build on his quarter-final run in Monte-Carlo one year ago. The Serb has won both of their meetings to date, with straight-sets victories in Rome and at the Tokyo Olympics last season.

[3] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. F. Fognini (ITA)

Tsitsipas did not drop a set in his five victories en route to the 2021 Monte Carlo title, and has dropped just one set in compiling a 3-0 ATP Head2Head advantage over 2019 champion Fabio Fognini.

“Monte Carlo holds a very special place in my heart,” said the Greek, who resides in Monaco and has fond memories of attending the event with his family every year growing up.

After a successful start to the 2022 season on hard courts, including semi-final showings at the Australian Open and Acapulco as well as a final run in Rotterdam, the 23-year-old Greek is excited to get back on the European clay.

“I always have great memories playing on this surface,” he said. “For me it’s such an extreme surface because you can really utilize your weapons. You can find yourself from back on defense all the way to offense, all in a single rally. It’s definitely a surface of the extremes.

“I really like the fact that I’m really able to really get a good grip of the ball with heavy topspin and slide around the court. This is something I feel like is part of my nature.”

Fognini advanced to the second round with a three-set win over Arthur Rinderknech on Monday. Though the World No. 32 Italian is no longer the defending champion in Monaco, he is defending 500 ATP Ranking points from his 2019 run — half of the original 1000 he earned that year. Those 500 points make up 37 per cent of his ranking points.

Best Of The Rest

After starting his clay season on home soil in Houston, 10th seed Taylor Fritz will get his first taste of the European red clay on Tuesday against wild card Lucas Catarina, a Monte Carlo native. The Indian Wells champion faced two Chileans last week, beating Alejandro Tabilo but falling in three sets to Cristian Garin. He is making his third Monte Carlo appearance, with his best result a third-round run in 2019.

Fritz, who will face Catarina on Court Des Princes, is already off the mark in the Monte Carlo doubles competition, earning a win on Monday with countryman Sebastian Korda.

Daniel Evans will open play on Court Rainier III against lucky loser Benjamin Bonzi. Evans reached the Monte-Carlo semi-finals in 2021, beating Djokovic, Hubert Hurkacz and David Goffin before defeat against Tsitsipas. The Briton also reached last year’s doubles final alongside countryman Neal Skupski.

Lorenzo Musetti will follow Evans on the show court, seeking his first Monte Carlo victory in his second appearance. The #NextGenATP Italian flashed his clay-court credentials by reaching the Roland Garros fourth round and the Lyon semi-finals in 2021. The 20-year-old faces Benoit Paire, who has a 4-7 record in Monte Carlo.

Back on Court Des Princes, 16th seed Lorenzo Sonego will face Ilya Ivaskha ahead of Fritz’s match. The Italian fell to Alexander Zverev in the Monte-Carlo second round one year ago, but followed it up with a semi-final run in Rome. Qualifier Holger Rune, the Danish #NextGenATP star, will take on Aslan Karatsev on the same court, with Grigor Dimitrov closing play on the second stadium against Dusan Lajovic.

On Court 2, newly crowned Marrakech champion David Goffin, a Monte Carlo wild card, will open his campaign against Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka.

In doubles action, fourth seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut take on wild cards Marcelo Melo and Zverev in one of five matches on the schedule. Evans, now teaming with Diego Schwartzman, will face Monagesque wild cards Romain Arneodo and Hugo Nys. On Court 9 Nikoloz Basilashhvili and Alexander Bublik will open their campaign, as will Croatians Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig.


COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 a.m.
D. Evans (GBR) vs. [LL] B. Bonzi (FRA)
L. Musetti (ITA) vs. B. Paire (FRA)
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs. A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)

Not Before 3:00 p.m.
[3] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. F. Fognini (ITA)

COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 a.m.
[16] L. Sonego (ITA) vs. I. Ivashka
[1] T. Fritz (USA) vs. [WC] L. Catarina (MON)
[Q] H. Rune (DEN) vs. A. Karatsev
D. Lajovic (SRB) vs. G. Dimitrov (BUL)

COURT 2 start 11:00 a.m.
P. Martinez (ESP) vs. U. Hubert (FRA)
[WC] M. Melo (BRA) / A/ Zverev (GER) vs. [4] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)
[WC] D. Goffin (BEL) vs. [Q] Jiri Leheccka (CZE)
[WC[ R. Arneodo (MON) / H. Nys (MON) vs. . Evans (GBR) / D. Schwartzman (ARG)

COURT 9 start 11:0 a.m.
[Q] E. Ruusuvuori vs. [LL] Oscar Otte (GER)
S. Gonzalez (MEX) / A/ Nolteni (ARG) vs. N. Basilashvili (GEO) / A. Bublik (KAZ)
M. Cilic (CRO) / I. Dodig (CRO) vs. A. Behar (URU) / G. Escobar (COL)

Court 11 start 12:00 p.m.
[LL] M. Cressy (USA) vs. L. Djere (SRB)
[8] M. Arevalo (ESA) / J. Rojer (NED) vs. T. Brkcuc (BIH) / N. Cacic (SRB)

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