From The Ruthless Court to the Clay Courts

05/04/2011 at 8:42 pm (Tennis, The Ruthless Court) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Who'll win big in Monte Carlo?

The aristocratic and regal characters populating the late 19th and early 20th centuries in The Ruthless Court are exactly the type to grace the high-stakes world of Monte Carlo and may even have heard of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tennis tournament, as the event debuted way back in 1906.

Sadly the tennis-playing Catherine Verkhovnova—one of TRC’s present day characters–isn’t eligible for the tournament as it’s strictly men allowed (or aloud, if you’ve ever heard their grunting). Never mind—in The Ruthless Court, Catherine wins 6 straight matches on grass to reach the Wimbledon final against GB’s Georgie Gent, so she’s obviously more suited to grass than clay anyway. For those who can’t instantly recall, Georgie, (the player formerly known as Georgie Stoop) as well as being a character in The Ruthless Court, is also a very real person, as her sometime doubles partner Laura Robson will testify.

But back to Monte Carlo. The first tournament of the European clay season, this event is a favourite playground of player and fan alike, thanks to the Monte-Carlo Country Club being a ball’s throw away from a postcard-perfect sea. This casino of clay has boasted a royal flush of great champions over the decades with the roll of honour including Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal. Attendance this year is guaranteed to be well in excess of 120,000 and each spectator is licking their lips at the prospect of an elite 56 man draw featuring many of the world’s best players.

Rafael Nadal will be chasing down an amazing seventh successive title here, after crushing compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-0 6-1 in the 2010 final. Although World No. 3 Roger Federer has failed to win the tournament in his previous nine attempts, his participation in 2011’s proceedings is worth the gamble. After giving last year’s event a miss, Fed doesn’t have any points to defend—unlike many other visitors to Monaco, Roger’s coming to the table with nothing to lose.

No longer the djoker in the pack, Monte Carlo resident and man-about-town Novak Djokovic is pottering into the clay season off the back of a 26 match-winning streak stretching all the way back to last December and  including his January 2011 Australian Open victory.  Djoko has proven himself to be 2011’s King of the Hard Courts so far, but his hard-fought Miami Masters win against Nadal in the final on Sunday shows that an easy time against the King of Clay is something Djokovic knows better than to ever bet on. This is especially the case in Monaco’s best known place-to-be, where the Serb took his turn at losing the final to Nadal in 2009. Last year, Djokovic reached the semi-final, going down to Verdasco.

And what of Fernando Verdasco this year? He’ll once again be in the Principality, looking to build upon 2010’s run to the final, which was the first Masters final of his career. Other super players in the draw include Andy Murray and David Ferrer.  Murray’s wild card entry was announced on Monday, after it was originally thought that the Briton would be skipping Monaco’s delights and starting his clay season in beautiful Barcelona instead. After reclaiming his world 4. status in the latest rankings, Murray will be looking to stem a losing streak of four defeats. Ferrer lost to Nadal in last year’s Monte Carlo semi-final but has proven to be dangerous on clay.

Nadal, Ferrer and Verdasco will be joined by compatriots such as Nicolas Almagro and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Meanwhile expect the home crowd to cheer on the likes of Frenchmen Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon. Canadian young gun Milos Raonic, a revelation in the early part of this year, is aiming to use Monte Carlo to launch the European leg of his journey up the rankings.  Like Murray, Tomas Berdych is a top ten player with a wild card in his hand and a glint in his eye. But who’ll be left holding all the cards after the clay swing’s curtain-raising event? The only thing you can put your chips on is an amazing week of tennis with as many twists and turns as The Ruthless Court. The fun properly gets underway on Sunday 10th April, with the final bound to cause fireworks on Sunday 17th April.

This post is recycled from an article written by Autumn as ‘mrsshakeyjake’ and posted on My Tennis Lounge.

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