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.
The first Monte-Carlo Masters was played in 1897, although much debate exists over the location of the first tournament.
It used to be dominated by the Brits…
The first Monte-Carlo Masters 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 seven records at the tournament:
Most titles: 11
Most consecutive titles: 8
Most finals: 12
Most consecutive finals: 9
Most matches played: 72
Most matches won: 68
Most consecutive wins: 46
His next target could be the most editions of the tournament played, which is currently held by Frenchman Fabrice Santoro with 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.
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.
It’s a tournament with a view
The tournament is help over eight days and 11 clay courts – all of which overlook the sea.
It’s a tournament you really want to win…
This year the total prize money pool is €5,207,405.
…if Rafa will let you!
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 two other players have managed to win the title at Monte-Carlo. Novak Djokovic in 2013 and 2015, and Stan Wawrinka in 2014.
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 Novak Djokovic and his brother Marko Djokovic have entered as well as Alexander Zverev and his brother Mischa.
However, the Djokovic and Zverev brothers will have to produce something special if they are going to beat the Bryan Brothers as Bob and Mike are the defending champions having won their sixth title last year.
Nicolas Almagro assesses rivalry.
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