Monte Carlo – first three rounds
The Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters has traditionally weaker field than two other Masters 1000 events held on clay. This year among Top 20 players withdrew: Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Tommy Haas, Kei Nishikori and Sam Querrey. Novak Djokovic‘s participation was uncertain almost to the last minute – the best player in the world sprained his right ankle on April 7th and doctors prescribed him 10 days off court. Exactly 10 days later he appeared on court to face Mikhail Youhzny, dropped the first four games when realized that ankle is ok, and won the match as well as his another encounter (against Juan Monaco) in which he lost the 1st set again playing visibly below his motion-standards. Two players took advantage of a weaker field and tiredness of Top 10 players: Grigor Dimitrov  and Fabio Fognini  who eliminated Janko Tipsarevic (out of form lately) and Tomas Berdych respectively, on their route to first Masters 1000 quarterfinals. “For the moment I feel really good on the court,” said the Italian. “I just play really well these three matches. It’s my first time to reach the quarter-finals here in Monte Carlo. With the Italian people, I think they’re happy. I’m Italian, so I feel at home here.” “Really looking forward to that match tomorrow,” said Dimitrov on his match with Nadal. “Even for now I’m very excited. Hopefully I can perform at my best. It’s going to be a great match. I’m feeling quite good coming on court with [the top players]. I feel also physically I’m ready to kind of hang with them more as the match goes on.” Berdych after Miami said that he felt like it was the end of the season not just one quarter of it. Perhaps the Czech player put too much emphasis on his physical preparation to catch a contact with the Big 4 plus his longest doubles match ever (Davis Cup first round) might have taken its toll. Andy Murray skipped a Davis Cup tie against Russia to prepare himself for the clay-court season. For the time being this preparation doesn’t look optimistic – the Scot was humiliated in just 58 minutes by Stanislas Wawrinka in round three. The Swiss saved two break points at 0:1 in the 1st set and since then was playing on such a high level that Murray wasn’t even angry, he couldn’t simply do anything. “He’s an amazing player. He’s always tough to beat,” said Wawrinka. “Therefore, to beat Andy that easy was a big surprise, for sure. I’m playing really good, really strong, really confident with my game. I know what he’s looking for in his game. He’s playing slow, he’s playing from the baseline, he’s not putting so much pressure. For me on clay, it’s perfect.” Rafael Nadal is bidding to claim his ninth (!) consecutive title in Monaco and without any troubles has extended his winning streak to 44 after two opening matches. Jarkko Nieminen comes back to Masters 1000 quarterfinals after a 6-year-break (Paris 2006) surviving two consecutive 3rd set tie-breaks against hard hitters: Milos Raonic & Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine prior to MC had won 10 consecutive deciding tie-breaks; there was a punishing rally at 4-all in the tie-break, concluded with a cross-court backhand passing-shot of the Finn. Del Potro suffered a cramp in his right thigh, but couldn’t take a medical time-out, lost another two points on his serve and the match 4-6 6-4 6-7(4).
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