MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – Novak Djokovic makes his tour comeback at his home away from home as the second round action begins at the third masters 1000 event of the season as the road to Roland Garros continues.
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Novak Djokovic  v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina H2H & Match Fundamentals
Novak Djokovic makes his tour comeback after missing Indian Wells and Miami due to his vaccination status. Somehow Djokovic is still world number one after Daniil Medvedev failed to capitalise on his momentum and with the Russian out for most of the clay season at minimum, this is a golden opportunity for the Serb to extend the gap at the top of the rankings. This will be Djokovic’s second event of the season after losing to Jiri Vesely in Dubai in February.
Djokovic’s first opponent of the week is clay-court specialist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who had a career-best result at Roland Garros last year. Since then though the Spaniard has lacked consistency and suffered a lot of opening round exits especially on hard courts. Can the energetic Spaniard get back to winning ways in the clay court season?
This is a perfect opening match for Djokovic to build confidence as he looks to get match-time under his belt. Davidovich Fokina isn’t going to blow the Serb off the court with his power or craft which is something you need when coming up against the Serb. It won’t be all smooth sailing but the world number one should have enough to get the job done in straight sets.
Prediction: Djokovic in straight sets.
Stefanos Tsitsipas  v Fabio Fognini H2H & Match Fundamentals
Stefanos Tsitsipas endured a difficult swing in America falling to Carlos Alcaraz in Miami as he still looks to find some form of consistency. Now the Greek returns to his favourite surface and a tournament where he is the defending champion. Tsitsipas will hope his favourite tournament will bring a severe improvement in form otherwise he could face a dip in rankings.
Tsitsipas’ opening test as defending champion is an awkward test in the form of a streaky Fabio Fognini. The Italian has failed to strike any consistent form but is a former champion himself in Monte-Carlo and has dazzled the audience with his funky style of play in previous years. Will another Fognini show be in store in 2022 as he looks to be seeded for Roland Garros?
Tsitsipas has a good head-to-head record against the Italian and with good reason as he completely outpowers and neutralises the baseline rally against Fognini. The Italian will need a show a new aggression and keep the points short if he wants to stand a chance otherwise the hogh-bouncing ball will fall into Tsitsipas’ range with relative ease.
As per usual the unpredictability levels are off the charts when it comes to Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian has been inconsistent and apart from a deep run at Indian Wells, Dimitrov would have liked more success in 2022. Now Dimitrov will be hoping the clay courts will be nicer to him than previous years as he looks to build a steady place in the ATP rankings.
Next for Dimitrov is former finalist Dusan Lajovicwho gained a tidy win over compatriot Filip Kraijnovic in his opening round. Although Lajovic hasn’t produced any standout results on the tour, the Serbian has shown his craft and power on clay before and has no problems causing an upset or two on this surface. Is another outstanding performance awaiting in Monaco?
It will be the battle between the two handed backhands as both players are athletic as well as aggressive and have levelled each other out on previous occasions. This match is a tough one to call but Lajovic’s comfort on the clay should prove the difference in this second round clash.
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