Two of the great clay court gladiators of this generation go to war on Thursday in second round action at Roland Garros. David Ferrer and Juan Monaco have played eight times during their careers with an even 4-4 split. This will be just their second meeting since 2011. Ferrer won last year in Rio in three sets.
(11) David Ferrer vs Juan Monaco
Any health questions concerning David Ferrer seemed moot in round one. The Spaniard destroyed Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-2, 6-0. Ferrer faced a lone break point in the match and saved it. He would win 82 percent of the points off his first serve and dominated on return as well. He would win 40 of 72 points played off Donksoy’s serve altogether. The 11th seed broke the Russian seven times on 11 chances.
Monaco rallied from early trouble in his opener as he moved past Denis Istomin 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. Overall, it was a decent win for Monaco who was trying to shake off a hip injury he suffered while upsetting Stan Wawrinka in Rome a few weeks ago. The Argentine had to grind through break chances 13 times in the match, saving nine. He would break Istomin six times on 12 chances. Monaco we decent on serve, winning 66 percent of his first serve points and 48 percent of his second serve.
Six of their eight previous meetings have come on clay with those evenly split at 3-3. This will be the first time that Ferrer and Monaco have met at a Grand Slam. Their 2015 clash in Rio saw Ferrer edge it 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. That was the first time they had met in nearly three and a half years. Now, it’s been a 15 month gap. The Rio win came during a title run for Ferrer and it featured exactly what you’d expect, some trademark long rallying and plenty of break chances. In that match, it was Ferrer saving five of seven break points with Monaco only able to salvage one of five. The Argentine really got beat up on second serve with only 52 percent of his first serves getting in play. Ferrer would win 19 of 33 points off Monaco’s second serve as a big difference maker in the match.
Interestingly, their first four matches were all straight sets. The last four though have gone the distance in three sets with the Spaniard prevailing in three of those four. It seems likelier that Thursday’s meeting won’t be a straight sets win for either, unless Monaco’s hip problem flares up. One would expect this to feature plenty of long rallies as Ferrer tests Monaco’s health and vice versa. Ferrer has been more prone to injury this year and at this stage, it would be interesting to see what a five set match does to him.
Both serves are going to be attacked and both players are going to likely have ample opportunity to break the other. That should favor Ferrer over the long haul as he is slightly better saving break chances and just barely better than Monaco in converting them this season. However, Monaco is only saving about 55 percent of his break chances this season. That is a below average number by ATP standards.
Enjoy this one if you can. These two 30-somethings may not have many more clay court clashes against each other and they both play the right way. In the end, despite being a couple years Monaco’s senior, Ferrer still does everything Monaco does a shade better.
Ferrer wins in four sets