Novak Djokovic plays his first clay match of the year on Wednesday, as he takes on world number 55 Jiri Vesely in the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. The pair have never met before, but Vesely will not like his chances of progressing to the third round.
Vesely Beats Gabashvili To Set Up Clash
The meeting will be Djokovic’s first clay match of the year, but Vesely continued his fine form on the dusty surface by defeating Teymuraz Gabashvili after overcoming a set deficit in the first round. The Czech lost the opening set 3-6, before going onto break at the end of sets two and three, to secure victory and set up this clash with the dominant force in tennis.
His clay season started last week, as he progressed all the way to the semifinals in Marrakech, winning three consecutive matches at an ATP Tour level event for the first time in a year. At the Moroccan event, he beat Inigo Cervantes, Nikola Mektic and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, losing to eventual runner-up Borna Coric in two tight sets which required settling within tiebreaks. It was a stark contrast to the majority of his 2016, where he had only one win to show in a disappointing start to the season.
Djokovic Aiming To Continue His Dominant Form
Vesely arrived in Marrakech with only one win registered in 2016, but the world number one heads to Monte Carlo with only the one tick in the losing column in yet another impressive start to 2016.
Four titles have been added to an-already strong collection, with Miami the most recent in the last Masters 1000 event. His record breaking twenty-eighth title at Masters 1000 events, came just a week after lifting the Indian Wells crown for the third consecutive year. His other two titles were won at the opening Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, and Doha, where he comprehensively beat rival Rafael Nadal 6-1, 6-2. The one loss occurred against Feliciano Lopez in Dubai, where in unfortunate circumstances, the Serb had to retire immediately after dropping the opening set.
Djokovic has twice won the title in Monte-Carlo, after is the defending champion after seeing off Tomas Berdych in last year’s final. He has won the last four Masters, and is looking to win his fourth consecutive clay title at that level.
Thursday’s meeting will be the first time Djokovic and Vesely have played each other, but it’s unlikely the 22-year-old Czech will challenge the Serb for too long.
Right now, it seems impossible for anyone to predict anything other than a comfortable Djokovic win, let alone a defeat! Vesely could worry the Serb with his big serve, but clay reduces the strength of it, along with the fact Djokovic is arguably the greatest returner tennis has ever seen. The big Czech has already featured well on clay this year, and could target any rustiness Djokovic may produce when transitioning from the American hardcourts to the European clay season.
One of the sets could be close, but Djokovic should progress through easily.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets