Thursday Preview: Nadal Faces Birthday Boy Zverev
• Alexander Zverev celebrates his 20th birthday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Thursday with a third-round showdown against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal. Zverev earned 75 wins and two titles as a teen, but he’s 0-2 against the 30-year-old Spaniard. Nadal saved a match point to edge Zverev at 2016 Indian Wells before beating the German in five sets at the 2017 Australian Open.
• Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, winners of the last 12 Monte-Carlo titles, are all in action on Court Rainier III. Djokovic meets No. 13 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who is 0-15 against Top 10 opponents and won only one game against the World No. 2 in this round three years ago. Also seeking the biggest win of his career is Pablo Cuevas, who faces the World No. 3 Wawrinka.
• Top seed Andy Murray continues his quest for one of the two ATP Masters 1000 titles still missing from his trophy case. The three-time semi-finalist gets play underway at 11 am local time against 15th-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain. Should he pull off the upset, Ramos-Vinolas will earn his first victory over a World No. 1 and his first place in an ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.
• Top 10 seeds clash on Court Des Princes when No. 5 seed Marin Cilic meets No. 9 seed Tomas Berdych and No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem takes on No. 10 seed David Goffin. Berdych has lost seven straight matches against Top 10 opponents, while Cilic hasn’t beaten a player ranked as high as Berdych this season. Goffin leads all players with 21 wins in 2017. Thiem is fifth with 18 wins.
• Also on Court Des Princes, 2016 Australian Open doubles semi-finalists Lucas Pouille and Adrian Mannarino face off and Diego Schwartzman meets Jan-Lennard Struff. Schwartzman, Struff and Mannarino are a win from the biggest quarter-final of their singles careers. Mannarino and Struff could also become the first qualifiers in the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals since Fred Gil in 2011.