The Monte-Carlo Masters: Cool facts and figures as Rafael Nadal chases 12th title in the Principality

Tennis Features
Monte-Carlo Masters overview

What’s cool and unique about the Monte-Carlo Masters, the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the year on clay? Quite a lot, as it happens.

It’s old

The first Monte-Carlo Masters was played in 1897, although much debate exists over the location of the first tournament.

Monte-Carlo Masters overview

It used to be dominated by the Brits…

The first Monte-Carlo Masters tournament was won by a Brit. Reggie Doherty, a four-time Wimbledon champion, won six of the first 10 events.

The only person who could actually stop him was his younger brother, Laurence, who won the other four.

It’s now dominated by a Spaniard…

Rafael Nadal holds several records at the tournament:

Most titles: 12
Most consecutive titles: 8
Most finals: 13
Most consecutive finals: 9
Most matches played: 76
Most matches won: 71
Most consecutive wins: 46

And he will add another record to his collection this year as he will draw level with Frenchman Fabrice Santoro for most tournaments played, which is currently 17.

But it’s never been dominated by the French

Interestingly, only one Frenchman has ever won the Monte-Carlo Masters. That was Cedric Pioline, who scored a straight sets victory over Domnik Hrbaty in 2000.

Fabulous Fabio lands a blow for Italy

Fabio Fognini ended Italy’s long wait for a not only a Monte-Carlo Masters champion, but an ATP Masters 1000 winner as he became the first Italian to win in the Principality in 2019 when he beat Dusan Lajovic in the final. And yes, he did beat Nadal en route to the title as he upset the Spaniard in the semi-final.

Of course with no Monte-Carlo Masters tournament held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fognini heads into this year’s event as the defending champion.

Fabio Fognini with Monte-Carlo Masters trophy

It was cool enough to tempt Bjorn Borg back

Bjorn Borg made his first comeback attempt at the Monte-Carlo Masters in 1991 after 10 years away from tennis.

Unfit, out-of-practice, and still using a small wooden racquet, he explained: “You know, the thing was I just wanted to play tennis again.

“After I retired I did not play much for seven or eight years. In 1991, I decided to come to play Monte-Carlo.

“It was a big tournament. I was living in Monte Carlo. I played no practice, no exhibitions, I just kind of turned up.”

He played a warm up against a very young Goran Ivanisevic, but lost in straight sets to Jordi Arrese.

It’s not actually in Monte-Carlo

Although called the Monte-Carlo Masters, it is actually located in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, a commune that borders on Monaco.

Although, just like everything else there, it has connections to Hollywood

The showpiece court at the Monte-Carlo Country Club has seating for 10,200 fans, and it is named after Rainier III, who ruled Monaco for over 50 years and was married to iconic American actress Grace Kelly.

The tournament is help over eight days and 11 clay courts – all of which overlook the sea.

Rafael Nadal is always the man to beat!

Monte-Carlo forms a triad of clay Masters tournaments, with the others being held in Rome and Madrid.

In 2010, Rafael Nadal swept them all before going to the clay of Roland Garros and winning there too.

Since Nadal made his debut in 2005, only three other players have managed to win the title at Monte-Carlo. Novak Djokovic in 2013 and 2015, Stan Wawrinka in 2014 and Fabio Fognini in 2019.

Doubles fun…featuring Nadal and some famous brothers

Did you know that Nadal has won a doubles title in Monte-Carlo?

Back in 2008 he partnered with fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo and they beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles in the final. And yes, he did win the “double” that year as he beat Roger Federer in the singles final.

This year we will see some interesting doubles pairings as world No 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros will feature.

Red-hot Russians Andrey Rublev and Karan Khachanov are also in the doubles draw, but top-seeded Colombian pair Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal are the men to beat.

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