CHARLESTON OPEN: Kicking off the sunny tennis season the Monte-Carlo Masters in Monaco pits the world’s best head-to-head on the orange clay of the Mediterranean.

With a number of upsets occurring in recent weeks this one is hard to predict, and with the return of Novak Djokovic, expect to see a vey high level of tennis.

We preview the favourites of the first European clay court tournament of the season below.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas – The obvious choice

This is a name that will be familiar to most tennis fans. Reaching the final of the Australian Open in January, Stefanos Tsitsipas showcased just why he deserves to be one of the top five tennis players in the world and why he should be feared on the clay in Monaco come Sunday.

If his recent performances weren’t enough to intimidate his opponents here, Tsitsipas will also go onto the court having won the tournament in 2021 and 2022. He has a tendency to play his best tennis on the orange clay, dominating with his power and especially his speed around the court as the clay takes the speed off the ball, allowing him to pick his spot with his mastery of all shots.

Born in Greece, Tsitsipas is used to hot weather and his upbringing on the dusty courts of the Mediterranean make him perfectly suited for this renowned tournament. On paper he is the clear favourite here and will almost certainly make it to the latter stages.


Jannik Sinner – BETDAQ pick

This is our pick for the champion of this tournament. Jannik Sinner has been knocking on the door of Grand Slam success for over a year now and that is partly down to his performances at tournaments like these where he seems to thrive off of the intimately packed stadiums and the fast paced schedule that sees players entering a fresh tournament almost every week.

He was the runner up at the Miami Open only last week, losing to Daniil Medvedev in the final while playing with a injury that was obviously hampering his ability to move quickly, an asset every modern tennis player relies on.

It was not meant to be for the Italian in Miami, but he overcame the inform world number two Carlos Alcaraz after going a set down and we expect him to continue his momentum here and get the win, building on his near-miss in the US.


Novak Djokovic – The undeniable

The world number one comes into this tournament having not played since the beginning of March when he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final of the Dubai Open. Unfortunately for Novak Djokovic, the US restriction on un-vaccinated entrants means the Serbian is still unable to enter the United States, where the majority of March tournaments have been hosted, meaning Djokovic has missed out on the recent competition.

For this reason and the dominant force in the tennis world’s tendency to falter slightly on the clay courts, we are laying Djokovic to win here but looking at how good he still is, winning Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open this year, it would be of no surprise to us or anyone else if he found a way of advancing to the latter stages. It is never rational to bet against Djokovic, but we have a hunch that he might just miss out here on the first major clay tournament of the year. That being said, do not write him off and keep an eye on him in the early rounds.


Casper Ruud – The dark horse

This is a player that has been dodging the limelight at major tournaments for the last six months, mainly due to his failure to advance to the final stages and look like a genuine threat for a trophy. It has been a unexpected drop in form but an understandable one considering how close he came to success in 2022, making it to the French Open and US Open final’s where he lost both times.

Coming that close to a Grand Slam victory on two occasions would be demoralising for any tennis player and it seems the second final loss took the wind out of the world number five’s sails as the Norwegian has failed to find the winning formula since.

It would be a bold bet, but Ruud is easily one of the top three in the world when at his best and much like Tsitsipas has mastered all aspects of the game and carries great speed and power. We feel he could just be the dark horse in Monaco as he returns to the clay that saw him in such great form last summer and with a bit of sunlight in his eyes, remembers just how good he can be.


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