Three to See, Monte Carlo: Wawrinka, Murray, Nadal to play openers

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Nadal and the 22-year-old Edmund have never played. (AP)

Each day before play at the Monte-Carlo Masters, we’ll preview and predict three must-see matches.

Stan Wawrinka [3] vs. Jiri Vesely

If there’s a Masters 1000 that Wawrinka might be favored to win, it’s Monte Carlo; it’s the only one he’s won before. But if there’s an opponent he wouldn’t have wanted to start against here, it might be Vesely. The Czech upset Novak Djokovic in this round, on this court, a year ago. Wawrinka won his only meeting with Vesely—at last year’s U.S. Open—in straight sets, but two of them went to tiebreakers.

Winner: Wawrinka

Andy Murray [1] vs. Gilles Muller

The second match in the stadium may not scream thriller, but it will be an interesting test of where the world No. 1 stands at the start of the clay season. After losing early in Indian Wells and pulling out of Miami and Davis Cup with an elbow injury, Murray insists he’s ready to play. Last year his ascent to No. 1 began with a run to the semifinals in Monte Carlo; now that means he has points to defend. Murray is 5-0 against Muller, but the strong-serving lefty, who has been an occasional giant-killer in the past, was close to beating him two years ago at Queen’s Club.

Winner: Murray

Rafael Nadal [4] vs. Kyle Edmund

The day’s afternoon showcase also features its most intriguing matchup. Nadal and the 22-year-old Edmund have never played, but if Rafa’s matches with other young guns—Dominic Thiem, Lucas Pouille, Alexander Zverev—over the last year are any indication, this could be a good one. The 45th-ranked Edmund has the forehand to push Rafa around, and he looked sharp for most of his first-round win over Daniel Evans. Can the Brit join his fellow Next Genners with a signature win? Or maybe a signature close loss?

Winner: Nadal

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