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No Nadal, no Djokovic, no Alcaraz – opportunities galore for Monte-Carlo last eight

It’s a fascinating quarter-final line-up at the Monte-Carlo Masters – here are some things you should be looking out for.

ATP Masters 1000 - Monte Carlo Masters Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2022 Italy’s Jannik Sinner reacts during his third round match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev || 227839_0086

The Monte-Carlo quarter-finals are set, and they look like this:

  • Alejandro Davidovich Fokina v [10] Taylor Fritz
  • Grigor Dimitrov v [11] Hubert Hurkacz
  • [12] Diego Schwartzman v [3] Stefanos Tsitsipas
  • [9] Jannik Sinner v [2] Alexander Zverev

Here are our things to look out for in the last eight.

Defending champion Tsitsipas looks dangerous

The Greek might not have won a title in almost a year, but he’s got the knack of winning in Monte-Carlo. He has found his feet on clay beautifully, and looks like he may be in shape to do as he did last year and make a run to the final of Roland-Garros. He will, of course, be hoping that this time round he can go one better and use Monte-Carlo as a springboard to lift the title in Paris. He starts his home stretch in the last eight against Diego Schwartzman, whose displays so far this week have been patchy, to say the least.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts during his second round match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini (Panoramic)

No big three, Djokovic, Nadal or Federer…

Since 2005, five men have lifted the trophy in Monte-Carlo. Tsitsipas is one, as is Fabio Fognini, the man he defeated in the Round of 32. Stan Wawrinka won in 2014, but he was knocked out in the first round this year as he continues his return from long-term injury.

The other two? Novak Djokovic, a two-time champion, and Rafael Nadal, with an amazing 11 titles. The field is wide open for any one of the last eight to win one of the biggest tournaments outside of the Grand Slams.

…no in-form rising star without Medvedev or Alcaraz

That’s even more the case when the field is already without Daniil Medvedev, recently world No 1, who underwent surgery for a hernia earlier this month. Teenager Carlos Alcaraz, fresh from his sensational win in Miami, was hotly favoured on clay, but fell to unseeded American Sebastian Korda in the Round of 32, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (5), 6-3.

Zverev needs to step up

There are three previous Masters champions left in the draw – Tsitsipas, of course; Hurkacz, who triumphed in Miami last year; and Zverev, who has won a surprising four of the nine Masters tournaments. He’s been in the top 10 for almost five years but still has no major in his trophy cabinet. If the German wants to be considered in the top bracket of stars, he should be dominating this tournament now.

Sinner the forgotten

But he could have a sizeable obstacle in his way in the quarter-finals. Jannik Sinner seems to have been around for a long time now, and has been overlooked recently with so much attention on the latest influx of teenage prodigies to the sport.

But the Italian is still only 20, and has one Masters final (defeated by Hurkacz, in Miami) to his credit. This would be a great chance to re-establish himself as the leading light of the ATP’s under-21 stars.

Time for Foki to realise tennis doesn’t have to be tough?

In the latest episode of Major Talk, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina revealed how tough he finds his life in tennis. He didn’t look like he was struggling too much against world No 1 Novak Djokovic as he dismissed him in three sets; nor against David Goffin in the Round of 16, when he reeled off a straight-sets win.

He has a Grand Slam quarter-final to his credit – on clay, no less – but no final to his name at Tour level. This is a fantastic chance for him to step out of the shadows of his more hyped-up Spanish compatriots. He needs to get past Taylor Fritz to reach the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo.

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