Djokovic & Federer On Collision Course
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been pitted in the same half of the draw as Roger Federer as he aims to retain his title and clinch a third crown at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
The Serb defeated Tomas Berdych last year to add to the title he won in 2013, when he beat Rafael Nadal. Djokovic comes into the third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the season having lost just one match in 2016, lifting trophies in Doha, the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami.
The 28-year-old Djokovic will look to extend his Masters 1000 domination and win a 29th crown at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. The Belgrade native has reached the final at every Masters 1000 tournament since 2014 Shanghai, where he was beaten in the semi-finals by Federer.
And it could be a semi-final meeting for Djokovic with Federer in Monte-Carlo, should both men advance. It would be their 46th meeting, with Djokovic edging into a 23-22 lead in their head-to-head series after beating the Swiss in the Australian Open semi-finals.
Djokovic opens his campaign against either Jiri Vesely, who is in the Marrakech semi-finals later today, or Teymuraz Gabashvili. The right-hander is projected to meet 13th seed Gael Monfils in the third round and could face eighth seed David Ferrer in the quarter-finals.
Ferrer, who reached the Monte-Carlo final in 2011 (l. to Nadal), is in the same section of the draw as #NextGen players Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev, who face each other in the first round. The in-form David Goffin, fresh from semi-finals in Indian Wells and Miami, could also challenge Ferrer for a quarter-final spot.
Federer is set to play his first tournament since undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a meniscal tear in his left knee after the Australian Open. The 34-year-old Swiss is looking to add the Monte-Carlo crown to his collection of 24 Masters 1000 trophies; he reached the final in 2006 (l. to Nadal), 2007 (l. to Nadal), 2008 (l. to Nadal) and 2014 (l. to Wawrinka).
Federer begins against Thomaz Bellucci or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, with the possibility of Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round. Both eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and ninth seed Richard Gasquet could pose a threat to Federer in the quarter-finals.
Second seed Andy Murray, eight-time champion Nadal, 2014 winner Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych headline the bottom half of the draw.
New father, Murray, is looking to reach the Monte-Carlo final for the first time, after semi-final efforts in 2009 and 2011 (l. to Nadal). The Scot opens his campaign against either a qualifier or Guido Pella and could meet 16th-seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire in the third round.
Murray is projected to face the sixth-seeded Berdych in the quarter-finals, but the Czech must first advance through a section that includes fellow Monaco resident Milos Raonic, who enjoyed strong results in March with a final showing in Indian Wells and the quarter-finals in Miami.
Nadal and Wawrinka find themselves on a collision course in arguably the most challenging section of the draw. The 29-year-old Nadal has a 53-4 tournament record in Monte-Carlo, with his last title coming in 2012 (d. Djokovic).
Nadal faces Lukas Rosol or Aljaz Bedene in his opening second-round match before the prospect of a third-round clash with 12th seed Dominic Thiem, who beat the Spaniard in February when the pair met on clay in the Buenos Aires semi-finals.
Fourth seed Wawrinka, who won his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown with victory at the Monte-Carlo Country Club in 2014, is looking to bounce back after a surprise second-round exit in Miami (l. to Kuznetsov). The Swiss faces a tough draw though, beginning against either #NextGen star Borna Coric – in the Marrakech semi-finals – or Philipp Kohlschreiber. He then has the possibility of Gilles Simon or Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.
Main draw play begins on Sunday in Monte-Carlo.