Three to See, Monte Carlo: Zverev out to solve Nadal in third meeting

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Nadal is a nine-time champion in Monte Carlo, but the 19-year-old Zverev has pushed him to the brink in both of their meetings. (AP)

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

Rafael Nadal [4] vs. Alexander Zverev [14]


It’s hard to imagine that this won’t be a close and excellent match. Nadal is a nine-time champion in Monte Carlo, but the 19-year-old Zverev has pushed him to the brink in both of their meetings. In his two lopsided wins this week, over Andreas Seppi and Feliciano Lopez, Zverev has looked as sharp as he ever has, while Nadal showed some vulnerability to the big ground stroke in his three-set opener against Kyle Edmund. If Zverev can hit enough of those big ground strokes, he’ll win.

Winner: Nadal

Novak Djokovic [2] vs. Pablo Carreño Busta [13]


The 25-year-old Carreño Busta is quietly putting together a career year. A finalist in Rio and semifinalist in Indian Wells, he’s 15-9 on the season and has cracked the Top 20 for the first time. Can he crack Djokovic? Judging by their only meeting, three years ago in Monte Carlo, the answer would seem to be no—Djokovic won, 6-0, 6-1. It’s safe to say this one will be closer.

Winner: Djokovic

Dominic Thiem [6] vs. David Goffin [10]


The 23-year-old Austrian and the 26-year-old Belgian have seen a lot of each other over the last two years. Since 2015, they’ve played five times, with Thiem winning three; Thiem also won their two meetings on clay, in Gstaad in 2015 and at the French Open last year. On the other hand, Goffin had the upper hand, in four sets, in their only match in 2017, at the Australian Open. This battle of state-of-the-art baseliners could go either way, and it should be fun to watch either way.

Winner: Thiem

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