The crowd on Court Rainier III have an interesting clash to start the day at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, with the talented Philipp Kohlschreiber looking to upset former Monte Carlo champion and 4th seed Stan Wawrinka, who will be looking to have a good preparation for the defense of his French Open title.
The winner of this match faces Gilles Simon in the 3rd round.
Form On Clay
Kohlschreiber is making his 2016 debut on clay in Monte Carlo, and got off to a very impressive start on Tuesday. The German faced a tricky opener against Borna Coric, but eased past the young Croatian 6-4, 6-4 and will be fairly happy with his level from his clash. Kohlschreiber, in the past, has won four of his six career title on clay and has reached a further four finals on the surface; he is certainly comfortable on this surface.
Wawrinka has a potentially big advantage of receiving a bye in the first round, meaning he could have more energy for this clash. Wawrinka will also obviously be comfortable here, having won the title in 2014 and also having strong success on clay in the past. However, Wawrinka lost early in Monte Carlo last year and hasn’t played in a while; he may be a little match rusty coming into this, though he is always capable of strong performances.
By far the most interesting, and potentially best, shot in this match to watch will be the one-handed backhands that both possess. It is almost certainly the strongest shot for both and whilst it is Wawrinka’s that gets the most attention, Kohlschreiber is also capable of causing damage with his backhand. It will be interesting to see who can use this shot most effectively throughout the match.
Overall, Wawrinka probably has the strongest game and is certainly the more powerful of the two. He should use this power advantage to try and dictate play, as well as finish points as quickly as possible, while he should use his stronger overall game to get Kohlschreiber moving around court and keep the German guessing. However, the 4th seed has put in a few bad performances this season, and must be careful to not make too many errors against a skilled opponent. Wawrinka is, however, a good server, and will be looking for a high percentage to help him try and dictate play.
Serving is arguably more key for Kohlschreiber, who doesn’t have as strong a game as Wawrinka, and he will certainly need to do this well for this match. The German must also be careful to not make too many errors, though he can often play clean matches and has the experience to take advantage of any mistakes that Wawrinka makes. Kohlschreiber will need to defend well against a more powerful opponent, though must also look to attack as much as possible.
Head To Head
The two have met three times before, with Wawrinka winning all the meetings; the two hadn’t played for almost eight years until Wawrinka beat Kohlschreiber in straight sets on his way to the title in Dubai earlier this season.
The two met on clay at the French Open back in 2008, with Wawrinka winning in straight sets, though the fact that was eight years ago suggests that it will be irrelevant for this clash.
This match has the potential to be high quality and will hopefully be competitive. Both are strong clay court players, though it’s hard to argue against Wawrinka for this match. He has a stronger overall game than Kohlschreiber and is capable of pulling off a straight sets win, though Kohlschreiber should provide a competitive match.
Prediction: Stan Wawrinka in two sets