Overhead shot of the clay courts of Monte Carlo,
Overhead shot of the clay courts of Monte Carlo,|montecarlotennismasters.com

Tennis: Abrams’ Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Doubles Preview -- All the stars will be playing, and watching

Matches start Sunday at 7:40 am EDT

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Novak Djokavic. Stan Wawrinka. Diego Schwartzman. Sascha Zverev. Grigor Dmitrov. David Goffin. Daniil Medvedev. Stefanos Tsitsipas. Karen Khachanov. Denis Shapovalov. Felix Auger-Alliasime. Fabio Fognini.

The draw is stacked in Monaco for the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, an ATP Masters 1000 event beginning play here today in the magnificent principality of Monaco. All the glitterati will be eschewing their nights at the gambling tables to attend this star-studded event located on two beautiful clay courts overlooking the sun-drenched Mediterranean Sea from it’s perch on the French Riveria in Southern France.

Who will be coming? Well, of the 3,500 official residents of Monte-Carlo, luminaries such as Ringo Starr, Bjorn Borg, Bono, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Justin Hayward (of the Moody Blues), and Gina Lollobrigida, as well as more than a dozen professional tennis players all call Monte-Carlo home because of its singular status as a tax haven. The European A-listers will be coming out to watch the fantastic tennis players mentioned above, all of whom are entered in the doubles draw. And none of them are seeded!

Want to watch No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic play doubles with his middle brother Marko? They’ll tangle with Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, the 4th seeds. Excited to see rising Canadian teen sensations Felix Auger-Alliasime and Denis Shapovalov partner each other? Grab a seat in the sun and see them engage Austria’s 5th ranked Dominic Thiem and Jurgen Melzer. How about catching former champion Stan Wawrinka team up with Grigor Dmitrov? They’ve drawn the 6th seeded team of Henri Kontinen and John Peers. The Zverev brothers are playing together, as are the exciting Italian duo of Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini.

This is a veritable smorgasbord of professional clay court tennis players playing doubles with friends because they want to, not because they have to. The partnerships are compelling. The matches will be exciting. And there may be more famous fans watching than there are famous players playing.

The favorites are top-seeded and 2019 Australian Open champs Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut and second-seeded Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo, the 2017 Wimbledon champions. Other contenders include third-seeded Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares, former U.S. Open and Australian Open champions, fourth-seeded Cabal/Farah, fifth-seeded Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic, and sixth-seeded Kontinen/Peers. Two unseeded teams that will be dangerous are Ivan Dodig/Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau. Winners split 285,000 Euros, while the runner-up team collects 139,000 Euros.

This doubles draw looks first-rate, fun and exciting, and appears to be a clay-court version of the very successful doubles draw played at Indian Wells, Calif., a few weeks ago. If doubles is your tennis compulsion, or if you’d just get off seeing four terrific athletes play mind-numbingly quick, reflex-inducing speedy tennis, check out the compelling doubles played here, in the playpen of mankind.

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