Monte Carlo Not-Quite-A-Masters
Stronger field than usual here this year: Girsh was the only Top 10 player who didn't play this year. Might have been a mistake for Iglar -- usually the top 3 or so don't show up due to it resulting in being overplayed for the rest of the clay season. The big storyline was whether or not Benda or anyone could keep Gustavo Caratti from running the table on the red stuff this year(unlikely).
Shreya Ujjaval's tournament was par for the course, a fairly close first-round win and then a straight-sets loss against Tobia Alberti. The Italian 16-seed is probably Top 10 on clay so no crime to lose here. A bad first set, but he gave him a tough second which ended in a close tiebreak. Anil Mehul surprisingly went out to Spaniard Roberto Martin, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Not a good performance from Mehul. He wasn't expected to win but he was expected to take at least a couple of matches. After making the final of RG last year, he certainly didn't look the part in this case. Elias Trulsen, never a big threat on this surface, was the only other seed to lose at this stage.
There was basically nothing worth reporting in the third round as all those who should have won, did and most of them pretty easily. Things heated up quite a bit in the quarters though. Kinczllers dismissed M. Herrera in an excellent battle, prevailing 7-5 in the third; Benda needed a third-set breaker to battle past T. Herrera, though he skunked the Peruvian no. 1 with seven straight points in it; Alberti knocked out Iglar in straights after a tight first-set breaker; and Caratti had a relatively easy time of things over Marcek.
In the semifinals, Benda and Caratti both took care of business. Still looks like they are the best two in the world but it's no longer close as the Argentine looks superior and more consistent. That was validated as he triumphed 6-4, 6-4 in the final to get his best time of year started on the right foot. This is actually Gustavo's first Masters Shield, though I expect there will be more coming in the next month. It also solidified his hold on the #4 spot in the rankings, and though it was unthinkable not that long ago, if Iglar continues to struggle to an unaccountable degree he could pass him for the #3 spot by summer.
Coming Up ...
Two weeks off before Madrid. Mehul and Mooljee with both be in action next week, the others have some time off but there will be some results to report at that time.