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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been placed in the same half of the draw at next week’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, but there are several enticing early-round matchups that could occur before the pair are slated to meet.

See the Complete Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Draw Here

Second-seeded Djokovic is in the same quarter as Dominic Thiem, and the two-time champion could face the always tricky Gilles Simon in his first match after a bye. Nadal is slated to face either Kyle Edmund or Dan Evans in his first match after a bye, and he could end up facing No. 14-seeded Alexander Zverev in the third round.

The potential quarterfinals at Monte-Carlo, if the seeds were to hold, are as follows:

[1] Murray vs. [5] Cilic
[3] Wawrinka vs. [7] Tsonga
[4] Nadal vs. [8] Dimitrov
[2] Djokovic vs. [6] Thiem

Murray, who has not played since falling to Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells, due to a right elbow injury, will face either Gilles Muller or Tommy Robredo in his first-round match.


Some notable possible third-rounders at Monte-Carlo are:

[6] Thiem vs. [10] Goffin
[7] Tsonga vs. [11] Pouille
[2] Djokovic vs. Fognini or [13] Carreno Busta
[8] Dimitrov vs. [12] Bautista Agut
[4] Nadal vs. [14] A. Zverev

There are also a few enticing first-rounders in the first Masters 1000 event on clay of the season. Among them: Tommy Haas vs. Benoit Paire, Borna Coric vs. Jeremy Chardy, Alexander Zverev vs. Andreas Seppi, David Goffin vs. Steve Darcis.

The pressure will be on the top players to set the tone on clay. Nine-time champion Nadal is the defending champion and he will look to continue a strong push that started this January. The Spaniard is 19-5 with three hardcourt finals to his name thus far in 2017—that’s a record that bodes well for his hopes on clay.

Djokovic has yet to show his most dominant form this season, but he has gone 11-3 with a title in Doha nonetheless. Like Murray, Djokovic suffered an elbow injury earlier in the season but he appears to have it behind him now.

It’s Murray who has the biggest lingering health issues. His elbow issue was still nagging him last week and he admitted to some issues with his serve, saying that he expected to take it slow and take his time getting to 100 percent. How much can we expect from the World No.1 at Monte-Carlo? Hard to say.

If the top four seeds falter, there is a cast of talented and rising clay-courters ready to make a push. Dominic Thiem, a semifinalist at Roland Garros last year, has gone 50-15 on the surface since the start of 2015. Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov are also threats to make statements in a draw that is without Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios.

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