Monte-Carlo R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Zverev, Wawrinka vs. Cuevas

A blockbuster third-round contest in Monte-Carlo will pit Rafael Nadal against Alexander Zverev on Thursday. A place in the quarterfinals will also be at stake when Stan Wawrinka continues his campaign against Pablo Cuevas.

(14) Alexander Zverev vs. (4) Rafael Nadal

Nadal and Zverev will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in the third round of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Thursday. Their two previous encounters have not disappointed. Nadal survived 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 at the 2016 Indian Wells Masters, where Zverev infamously bricked an easy volley on his own match point. The 19-year-old German, who in fact turns 20 on Thursday, came close again at this season’s Australian Open before going down 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 as Nadal eventually made his way to the final. Roger Federer ended the Spaniard’s run Down Under and toppled him again in Indian Wells (fourth round) and Miami (title match). Nadal has otherwise been stellar in 2017, with a 20-2 record against opponents not named Federer following his 6-0, 5-7, 7-3 victory over Kyle Edmund on Wednesday.

Although it is still early, arguably no one has been better this week than Zverev. The world No. 20 is through to last 16 without the loss of a set and he did not even come close to dropping set in routs of Andreas Seppi and Feliciano Lopez. Zverev is 13-6 for a season that has been highlighted by a title in Montpellier and a quarterfinal performance in Miami. This will not be easy for Nadal, but he should showcase more consistency in his second clay-court match of the year and maintain the kind of level that was on display in his opening set against Edmund.

Pick: Nadal in 2

(3) Stan Wawrinka vs. (16) Pablo Cuevas

Like Nadal, Wawrinka also endured a scare in his Wednesday opener but battled to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Jiri Vesely–who upset Novak Djokovic at this tournament last spring. The third-ranked Swiss captured the Monte-Carlo title in 2015 to go along with one other semifinal finish (2009) and three quarterfinal showings.

Wawrinka is one victory away from another appearance in the last eight, but his form has been unspectacular of late (15-5 record this season with no titles) and Cuevas is one of the best dirt-ballers in the business. Although the 27th-ranked Uruguayan is just 10-6 this year, he captured a clay-court title in Sao Paulo–for his sixth career winner’s trophy and sixth on the red stuff. Cuevas has advanced this week by taking out Viktor Troicki and Joao Sousa in easy straight sets. Unfortunately for the 16th seed, he is just 3-10 lifetime against top-10 opponents and is 0-3 in his last three such efforts.

Pick: Wawrinka in 3

62 Comments on Monte-Carlo R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Zverev, Wawrinka vs. Cuevas

  1. Stars are aligned here for Rafa to take his tenth title. He should win this event. Stan and Murray out and Nole struggling mightily with his confidence. Plus Rafa crushing Zverev at the moment. Nice to see the badass back in business. Vamos Rafa!!

  2. Darren Cahill‏Verified account @darren_cahill 5m5 minutes ago
    Alex way too loose vs Rafa today. Been in every game but blown leads with UFE. Rafa very sharp. FH is jumping again. Great early clay signs

  3. For Stan, losing early at lead-up tournaments has proven to be fairly irrelevant to how he will play at majors… Like in 2015 when, save for a Rome semifinal run, he lost early in every single tournament between Rotterdam and RG haha. Then he showed up at RG and blew people off the court. After his semifinal showing in Rome, people may have given him more props going into RG, but then he goes to Geneva the week before RG and loses early in a damn 250! He’s so unpredictable. Even at US Open last year, nobody was picking him to win it. So although losing early is never good for anyone going into a major, it seems to be less of an issue for Stan…

    As for Murray, I think that he is a player who generally DOES need to do well at the run-up tournaments in order to play his best at the majors. I was actually of the opinion that Andy should skip Monte Carlo all together to give him the maximum amount of time to recover from his elbow injury. I was pretty surprised that he decided to play the tournament. So while it’s not good for him to have lost early, it could turn out to help him physically, since now he will have a few weeks to recover before Madrid. He could obviously make a full recovery and start playing really well again in time for Roland Garros, but I am personally doubtful that he will be a real factor at Roland Garros. I just don’t really see him getting his body back fully post-injury, and getting his level of tennis high enough, to truly challenge for Roland Garros… I also know that anything can happen, so I would never count him out completely. I just don’t like his chances much at this point.

  4. This title is so Rafa’s for the taking at the moment… Unless he still has a mental block against Novak should they meet in the final, this trophy is just waiting for Rafa’s hands…

    • Kev…You’re soooo spot on buddy!!If u can see me now,i’m grinning like a cheshire cat who just ate a bird steak for breakfast!hehe…

  5. So Rafa in 2 easy sets. I knew Rafa would rise his level (which he did significantly) but I expected Zverev to play better. But, his previous opponents played really bad so this was a different proposition.

    Felt like the old days. An opponent who can give and has given Rafa trouble on hard courts plays him on clay and it turns out to be a lop-sided affair.

    Rafa was really good today and he will only improve from here.

    It won’t be wise to bet against Rafa winning his 10th title here.

    He has further strengthened my belief which I showed before the start of the tournament. I hope he continues the winning ways. Vamos!

    • I just saw the end of Rafa’s match! Even though I missed it I so happy to hear that he played well! They were talking out it on the tennis channel!

      I just happy that Rafa played well and is looking more like his formidable self!

      I am so happy!

      Cue as beat Stan!

      • Too many typos in my last post. Typing too fast! But I am just very happy that Rafa played well!

        Both Stan and Murray out! We are getting closer to Rafa and Novak!

  6. I told ya all that Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka wont make it that far to meet rafa.
    well Djokovic is still around, but I dont think he will reach the latter stages.
    Easy pickings here. Just like the good old days

  7. RT:
    #Nadal: “Last times against #Zverev I played defensive. He’s a dangerous player but today I only made few errors and I was aggressive on FH”

  8. Zverev in a hurry to celebrate his birthday. Rafa played very well and Zverev not so. Still, it’s good to see Rafa a bit more aggressive today, stepping inside the court and moving to the net and so efficient there. I know he doesn’t want to make the same mistake of yesterday’s.

    I’m so happy Rafa played so well and not allowing Zverev much chances to play his game.

      • Agreed. As I said. Not about the years at all.

        But don’t call them deluded Mary. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

        • Sorry, it should read between the ears. Between the years doesn’t make sense so no points to you hawkeye for drawing any bogus conclusions from an obvious typo. And we know who said between the ears. Hawkeye you should be hard on yourself as you are constantly disrespecting Rafa’s mental strength.

  9. I think Rafa decided to forget the hype around Zverev and just play his game. Zverev was out of his depth. The commies keep going on about the MP Zverev had against Rafa at IW last year as if all their subsequent matches would start at match point to Zverev.

    • Exactly, so stupid. They were still talking about Simon’s lone win over Rafa at Madrid indoor HC in 2008!! Not forgetting that Tsonga’s AO2008 SF win over Rafa! Of course once they see Foggy, they’ll yap and yap nonstop about his three wins over Rafa!

  10. I Think people need to look at these matches in isolation, rather than rabbiting on about the past ones, Rosol, Soderling, its not like he hasnt beaten them since, yet the commies cant seem to resist bringing them up ad nauseum ….

    • They only do it to Rafa. All unlikely loses suffered by Federer, Djokovic and Murray are quickly airbrushed and never ever mentioned again, whilst players who beat Rafa are announced on court with their wins, sets and MPs against Rafa..

      • Yeah, I bet they won’t mention a Donskoy, or a Stakhovsky, or a Thiem beating Fed on grass at Stuggart.

      • lol! But if I never again hear about Soderling it’ll be too soon. Anyway, so proud of Rafa. True champion. He doesn’t play the past or the future. He plays the guy in front of him.

        Sorry for Andy today. The TC commmie said his serve speed was way down so the elbow is clearly still bothering him. You don’t need a fast serve to win on clay (hello young Rafa!) but it helps.

      • Of course nadline.

        Rafa’s always been the biggest threat to the federazzi’s narrative of the peRFect Maestro GOAT and has historically been the greatest chink in his armour (Nole only until recently albeit much less so).

        But that’s really a compliment then, when you think about it.

      • nadline10 (AT 3:41 PM; 4:52 PM)
        I wonder who pays to professional (!) English-speaking TV commies and the court announcers for that.

          • hawkeye APRIL 20, 2017 AT 5:29 PM
            “I think Stan actually handles the paperwork.
            Roger needs to keep it at arm’s length.”


  11. That’s because it’s not easy to beat Rafa,no matter what surface,,more so on,if someone be able to beat Rafa,that is a very tremendous achievement by them..not only they’re going to be proud of themselves for successful tamed one of the greatest in the history of tennis[and believe me,THAT WAS HUGE achievement]…we,Rafa fans should look at it as a great compliment to Rafa as’s only sealed Rafa’s status as the most feared,the most hard to matter who’s his opponents are..Isn’t it refreshing to hear The Great Roger Federer,Novak,Andy and ALL players uttered this magical words about our beloved Rafa?

    • MA,

      I agree and well said! After all, there aren’t many who have been able to get a win against Rafa, especially on clay!

      So we should take it as a compliment when it is considered such an achievement! That’s the best way to deal with it. The fact is it’s news when anyone beats Rafa!

      • Hey Nny,My Queen!!…Hehe,thank u for your words!…Err,yeah..if we see something and not rushed to look at the negative side of it,then we be able to see the positive things about it…

        • MA,

          Yes! Turn it around and look at it positively! You said it so very well!

          It should make us proud that beating Rafa has such a high value on it!

          I am feeling better after Rafa’s win over Zverev!

          • Nny!!hahaha…oh!it turned out that u need a Rafa dose everyday it seems!!and i thought my beautiful msges that can make u better all this time!!silly me!!hehehe…

            Oh btw Nny…i’ve read hundreds of article over the years that contain every players words parroting almost the same phrase everytime they played or lose..”U know Rafa,he’s one of the greatest,he will fight for every point,he will chase every’s very hard to play him,so u have to bring your A game..because if u bring less,he will eat u alive”…and what amazed me Nny is that,this words not only uttered by players on tour but other legends as well…Jmac,Boris,Rod laver,Sampras,..urgh!EVERYONE Nny!..I remembered Sampras words at AO 14 when Rafa met with Roger in semis..I think Pam Shriver ask him what his opinion about the match…and he said..”Roger needs to do something special today because Rafa is a BEAST out there”!..and we all know the outcome of that match…RAFA WAS AWESOME that day!!God!I missed that Rafa very much!!

    • I posted this more than a year ago:

      augusta08 JANUARY 21, 2016 AT 7:05 AM: “Beating Rafa is everybody’s meal ticket.”

  12. Agree Ramara, Rafa as they failed to mention actually beat that very same player the following year, and Federer lost to that very same player the following year, do they go on about that ont though , no do they heck ? ….

    • Hey Al!…U send a msg to my FB?In that case,my FB is really weird Al..i look at it all day long and see nothin’!…I’ll answer u now Al!

  13. Well what do you know. Nole broke.

    (Related: have I ever mentioned just how much I know about tennis?)


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