The final of the 2013 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters sees a repeat of last year’s championship match between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic at 1pm UK time.
This match-up was hardly unexpected: it’s the 34th meeting of the stellar pair and the third time that they’ve met in the final here. The Spaniard leads 12-2 on the dirt and 19-14 overall on all surfaces. Rafa let a comfortable winning situation slip yesterday in his semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but still came through in straight sets and I think the value today lies with another Nadal 2-0 win.
Nole was a comfortable winner inside an hour against Fabio Fognini. The world number one has visibly improved since his tentative opening matches here this week, and his supporters are hoping that he’s peaked at the right time.
It will be a test for both men, with Djokovic being the first player with an effective double-handed backhand that Nadal has had to face this week, and the Serb facing a huge step up in quality from anything he has encountered thus far.
I think that Nadal will be slightly the hungrier of the two in going for his ninth Monte-Carlo title. Although Djokovic will be keen to put down a marker early in the clay swing I don’t see him coming back if he loses the opening set.
In best-of-three clay court finals, only Horacio Zeballos has taken a set off Nadal since Roger Federer won the Madrid Masters at altitude in 2009. That was 15 finals ago, so the odds are stacked in favour of another 2-0 Rafa win.
Best bet: Back Nadal to beat Djokovic 2-0 at 2.15