ATP Monte Carlo second round preview: Novak Djokovic vs Borna Coric

Two players who are having opposite seasons so far in 2018 meet in the second round of the first clay Masters of the year.

ATP Monte Carlo second round preview: Novak Djokovic vs Borna Coric
Novak Djokovic and Borna Coric met once in Madrid back in 2016 (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

A huge showdown is set to take place at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters as Borna Coric will meet Novak Djokovic in Monaco. This will be their second-ever meeting but it will be a different setting this time as 2018 has described a tale of two seasons for each player.

Head-To-Head

The pair have only met once in their careers back in 2016 in Madrid on clay. The Serb won pretty handily, winning 6-2, 6-4. 

2018 Form

Heading into 2018, both players were really looking for something to get them going. Djokovic was coming off elbow surgery while Coric had plateaued since his initial breakout season. This season, Coric has really hit the heights that many expected him to. 

After an average start to 2018, a couple of quarterfinals and a first-round showing in the Australian Open, Coric hit new heights by reaching his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Indian Wells. Coric had a chance to stun world number one Roger Federer but fell just short in the three-set affair. He followed that up with a quarterfinal showing in Miami, his best run by far in his career.

Borna Coric has looked excellent over the last month (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Borna Coric has looked excellent over the last month (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

For Djokovic, it's been anything but a pleasant 2018. He was stunningly ousted by Hyeon Chung in the fourth round of the Australian Open and then took time off before returning at Indian Wells. The former world number one lost back-to-back matches at the first two Masters in the year, losing to Taro Daniel in Indian Wells and then Jeremy Chardy in Miami. 

Analysis

Both men kicked off their Monte Carlo tournament with straightforward victories. Both men have had success on clay with Coric winning his first career title on clay while Djokovic has won a number of Masters and a French Open. 

Coric has grown into his own this season, garnering a new confidence with his game, making this match much different to their 2016 encounter. Coric has the bigger weapons, but Djokovic is the more consistent player out of the two. The key shot in this matchup will be the forehand. The forehand is the wing that breaks down more often for each player. This matchup could be a battle of the backhands in this match. 

Djokovic returned to work with Marian Vajda after parting ways with both Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, and so far the Serb has looked excellent, though the sample size is small. Djokovic should be the favorite, but it should be a close battle.

Prediction: Djokovic in three sets