TennisSection previews the 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters as Alexander Bublik takes on Stan Wawrinka in the first round on Monday, April 11th, 2022.
The wait is over for the 2014 Monte-Carlo Masters champion Stan Wawrinka who is set to mark his comeback to tour-level tennis at the Principality. However, the one-handed Swiss will have a battle in his hands when he takes on the fast-improving Alexander Bublik. Who will prevail?
Alexander Bublik, it should be noted, is enjoying the best season of his career. And we are only four months in, in this current campaign. Bublik has already bagged a title in 2022 at the start February, taking down gaudy list of opponents including Alexander Zverev on the indoor hard courts of Montpellier. While his form on clay does not match up with his excellent hard court record, the Kazakh has a quarterfinal showing from Madrid Masters in his resume. He also boasts wins over the likes of Gael Monfils, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Albert Ramos Vinolas on tennis’ most demanding surface. Bublik also famously stole a set from Dominic Thiem at the French Open in 2019. So, clearly, the 24-year-old is not one to be underestimated when he makes just his second main draw appearance at the Monte-Carlo Masters this week.
Stan Wawrinka, for his part, is set to return to tour-level tennis for the first time in a year. The three-time Grand Slam winner fought off a year-long battle of a foot injury he sustained in early 2021. Since then, Wawrinka delayed his comeback after suffering a series of setbacks in his rehabilitation. Wawrinka was deemed fit to make a short-lived appearance at the Marbella Challenger two weeks ago, but was well beaten by Sweden’s Elias Ymer. His current ranking of World No. 236 would not have warranted a place at the first ATP Masters 1000 on clay, but was handed a wild card entrant at an event he won in 2014 when he beat compatriot Roger Federer.
Alexander Bublik and Stan Wawrinka have not clashed before on the ATP Tour. Sunday’s match at the Monte-Carlo Masters will be their first official meeting. Wawrinka is a premier performer on clay and at his peak would have obliterated Bublik. But coming off two surgeries in recent years, he is unlikely to have a lot of pace in his movement. The zip and zeal in his ground strokes might still come to the fore including that elegant one hander, but it almost feels like it will take him a bit of time to find his range during the clay-court season.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Alexander Bublik to win in 3 sets.
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