Stan Wawrinka will begin his quest for a second Monte-Carlo title when he goes up against Jiri Vesely during second-round action on Wednesday. Tomas Berdych and Tommy Haas are also aiming for a spot in the last 16.
(3) Stan Wawrinka vs. Jiri Vesely
Wawrinka and Vesely will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they clash in round two of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday. Their only previous encounter came three years ago at the U.S. Open, where Wawrinka prevailed 6-2, 7-6(6), 7-6(3). An upset in this one would not be the biggest of Vesely’s Monte-Carlo career, as he stunned Novak Djokovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 last year en route to the third round. The 54th-ranked Czech is a decent 11-9 this season following a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over Mischa Zverev on Tuesday.
The champion of this tournament in 2014, Wawrinka is also a former semifinalist (2009) and three-time quarterfinalist (most recently last spring). His extensive clay-court exploits also include a French Open title in 2015, when he toppled Djokovic in the final. Although the third-ranked Swiss reached the Australian Open semis and the Indian Wells title match earlier this season, he has been otherwise unspectacular. But on this surface, and really on any surface, Wawrinka should have too much weaponry for Vesely from the back of the court.
Pick: Wawrinka in 2
The 39-year-old Haas is expected to wrap up his career some time this summer, but he is not done yet. On the heels of an 0-3 start to the season, the German is now getting into a relative groove. Haas went to three sets with Nikoloz Basilashvili in Delray Beach and with Vesely in Miami before finally picking up a victory over Reilly Opelka last week in Houston (7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3). Haas, who fell to Jack Sock 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the Houston second round, impressively steamrolled Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-2 on Monday in Monte-Carlo.
Up next for the former world No. 2 on Wednesday is a fifth career showdown against Berdych–and first since 2012. The head-to-head series stands at two wins apiece, with Berdych taking their only previous encounter 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(9), 6-3 in a Davis Cup rubber 12 years ago in the Czech Republic. Only one contest has come since 2006, and Haas emerged victorious in that one via a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 decision on the grass courts of Halle in 2012. Berdych is a mediocre 14-6 for his 2017 campaign following a hard-fought 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win at Andrey Kuznetsov’s expense on Monday. With one clay-court match under his belt, the No. 9 seed should raise his level and showcase too much firepower for Haas.
Pick: Berdych in 2