Following an entertaining three months on the hard courts, it’s now time for the tennis world to shift to the clay season, as many of the world’s best are in Monaco for the 2018 Monte-Carlo Masters.
Coverage of this tournament will be exclusively on the Tennis Channel. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch the action live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for DirecTV Now, a cable-free, live-TV streaming service.
While there are four different channel packages, the Tennis Channel is included in the “Just Right”, “Go Big” and Gotta Have It” bundles. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the Tennis Channel live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
While each of the three big winners from the start of the year (Australian Open winner Roger Federer, Indian Wells Masters winner Juan Martin del Potro and Miami Masters winner John Isner) will be sitting out the clay season opener, there are still a bevy of big names in Monaco.
That starts, of course, with the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal. Back to No. 1 in the world with a ton of points to defend over the next two months, Nadal hasn’t played a singles tournament since the Australian Open, but after dominating Philipp Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev during the Davis Cup quarterfinals last week, he certainly looks ready to defend his 10 Monte-Carlo titles.
“I always feel good when I am here, it is one of my favorite tournaments,” Nadal said. “It’s been a love story between me and this event, the people who run the tournament. I saw this tournament on the TV before I started playing here and always wanted to do well. These sorts of tournaments help me to wake up in the morning and to train and compete with a lot of passion.”
Nadal finds himself in a fairly stacked quarter of the draw, as he may face either rising star Karen Khachanov or Adrian Mannarino in the third round, then could potentially see either Dominic Thiem or two-time Monte Carlo winner Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. In the semis, possible opponents Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin or compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.
On the bottom half of the draw, the top seeds are Marin Cilic, Zverev, Lucas Pouille, Diego Schwartzman, Tomas Berdych, Fabio Fognini and Milos Raonic. Of those players, Berdych (2015) is the only one to advance to a final in Monaco, while Pouille (2017) and Fognini (2013) have gotten as far as the semifinals. Zverev should be able to get to his second-straight Masters 1000 final, but it’s very wide open.
Ultimately, though, it feels like that half of the draw is playing for second place. If Nadal plays anything like he did during the Davis Cup last week, he’s headed for an 11th Monte-Carlo title.