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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday April 8, 2022

 
Novak Djokovic

The World No.1 is back in play next week at Monte-Carlos, and some exciting challenges await.

Photo Source: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

The clay-court season will kick into high gear for the men next week at Monte-Carlo, with the first of three Masters 1000s on clay, set to take place.

Tennis Express

The draw has been released and it features World No.1 Novak Djokovic, who will make his first appearance since losing in the quarterfinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February.

See the full draw here:



World No.1 Djokovic (2-1) has played just three matches in 2022, due to his decision to remain unvaccinated. But he should find more playing opportunities this spring, starting with Monte-Carlo, where he is a two-time champion with a 35-12 record.

Djokovic will face either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Marcos Giron after a first-round bye in the Principality.

Here is potential route to the title.

Round 1: Bye
Round 2: Davidovich Fokina or Giron
Round of 16: [14] Bautista Agut/ Evans or Goffin
Quarterfinal: [8] Alcaraz or [10] Fritz
Semifinal: [4] Ruud or [7] Norrie
Final: [2] Zverev or [3] Tsitsipas or [5] Rublev

Alcaraz a threat?

Of note, of course, is the fact that Djokovic could face No.8-seeded Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals. The pair have never played before.

In his budding career, Alcaraz holds an 18-7 record on clay with two titles. He is 1-1 vs the Top-10 on clay.

Alcaraz will face either Botic van de Zandschulp or Sebastian Korda in the second round, after a first-round bye. He would face Taylor Fritz, the No.10 seed, in the round of 16, if the seeds hold.


First-Rounders to Watch

Stan Wawrinka makes his Masters 1000 return with a first-round match against Alexander Bublik. 36-year-old Wawrinka has not played at tour-level since Doha in 2021, and he hasn't played a Masters 2000 since Paris in 2020.

Jannik Sinner faces Borna Coric, with the Croatian recently back from a long time off due to shoulder surgery.

Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz squares off with Gael Monfils. The pair have split their previous two meetings, which both came on hard court.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who recently announced that he will retire after Roland-Garros, faces Marin Cilic in what will be his last Monte-Carlo appearance. Two-time semifinalist Tsonga owns a 14-9 record at Monte-Carlo, but Cilic owns a 6-2 record against Tsonga, including 2-0 on clay.


 

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