The Monte-Carlo Masters is one of the most prestigious clay tournaments and is also hosted by one of the most beautiful clubs in the world; the Monte-Carlo Country Club. “The Monte-Carlo Masters is an important tournament as it sets the tone for the clay court season,” explains President Vesa Ponkka of the Junior Tennis Champions Centers (JTCC). “Everyone loves playing there and those who do well tend to perform well throughout the clay court season,” he adds.
For Andrey Rublev, 25, this year’s winner, it was the most prestigious tournament he’s ever won, beating Holger Rune, 19, 5-7 6-2 7-5 in the final.
Responding to what Rublev’s victory means, Ponkka, who is also one of America’s preeminent tennis coaches, explains that the Russian has been a top 10 player for the past couple of years. “His victory is a good sign for the upcoming French Open as Rublev traditionally plays best on hard courts.”
On how Rublev distinguished himself at the tournament, Ponkka explains that he appears to have found some consistency in his performance as he’s able to hit big from both sides.
Adds Ponkka: “Rublev and Daniil Medvedev, 27, grew up together and are close friends. Together, they will be a formidable Russian team at the upcoming Davis Cup.”
Medvedev is currently ranked No. 3 in the world while Rublev is No. 6.
Rublev has been a top 10 over the past couple of years.
The Monte-Carlo Masters is the most prestigious tournament Rublev has ever won
Rune, who Rublev easily defeated in the final, “has made a big transition over the past year as he’s established himself as a real top 10 player,” the coach explains. “What sets the Dane apart from his competitors is his ability to do well on both clay and hard courts. He also has one of the best kick serves and is one of the best athletes on tour.”
Rune is ranked No. 7.
The legendary Novak Djokovic, 35, is on path to become the greatest tennis player of all time, did not do well in Monte-Carlo where he lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Lorenzo Musetti, 21, during the quarter-final.
Djokovic is ranked No. 1 in the world while Musetti is 18.
Vesa Ponkka is one of America’s preeminent tennis coaches. Photo credit: Courtesy
Responding to why Djokovic didn’t do well in Monte-Carlo, Ponkka explains that he was “a bit rusty” as he’s been unable to participate at the recent Sunshine Double – Indian Wells and the Miami Open – because of a U.S. government policy barring unvaccinated foreigners from entering the country.
“He’s also suffering from an elbow injury, which is why he pulled out from the unfolding Madrid Open.
Carlos Alcaraz, the world’s No. 2, didn’t participate in Monte-Carlo because of injuries. But he’s since recovered as he won the 2023 Barcelona Open.
Another top player who didn’t participate at the Monte-Carlo Masters in the end was Rafael Nadal, 36, who is also suffering from injury. He didn’t participate in the Barcelona Open or in the Madrid Open. “No one knows if he will be able to play in the upcoming French Open,” Ponkka explains.
Nadal holds the staggering record of 14 French Open titles, for which he’s earned the nickname “the King of Clay.” The 2023 Australian Open was the last tournament in which Nadal participated.
Most of Europe’s top tennis players have made Monte Carlo their home for tax reasons, except for Nadal and Alcaraz who live in Spain. Although Djokovic represents Serbia, he lives in the Principality of Monaco.
There’s never been a women’s draw at the Monte-Carlo Masters.
Most of Europe's top tennis players live in Monte-Carlo