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10sBalls | Tennis Balls shares Ricky’s picks for Tuesday in Monte-Carlo, including Djokovic’s return to tennis

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic meets Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his return today. EPA-EFE/JAMES ROSS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic will finally be back in action again when he takes the court against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday in Monte-Carlo. Meanwhile, the first round is wrapping up with Lorenzi Musetti vs. Benoit Paire.

Here my previews and picks for two of Tuesday’s matchups.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Djokovic has played in only one tournament this season–and it did not go well. The top-ranked Serb lost in the Dubai quarterfinals to Jiri Vesely. Other than that, Djokovic was infamously unable to play the Australian Open, the Indian Wells Masters, and the Miami Masters because he is unvaccinated. There is no such mandate at this week’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, so the 34-year-old is finally back in action.

Up first for Djokovic on Tuesday following a bye is Davidovich Fokina, who trails the head-to-head series 2-0. Djokovic cruised 6-2, 6-1 last spring in Rome and 6-3, 6-1 a few months later at the Tokyo Olympics. Davidovich Fokina earned another shot in this matchup by beating Marcos Giron 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday. The 22-year-old Spaniard is just 5-9 at the ATP level in 2022, so nothing suggests he has suddenly going to be competitive against Djokovic.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

Lorenzo Musetti of Italy in action. EPA-EFE/RODRIGO JIMENEZ

Lorenzo Musetti vs. Benoit Paire

Musetti and Paire will be wrapping up first-round competition when they go head-to-head for the second time on Tuesday. Their only previous encounter came last year in Miami, where Musetti rolled 6-3, 6-3. Clay should only help the 20-year-old Italian, who reached the Rome third round in 2020 and the French Open fourth round last season (took two sets off Djokovic). Musetti has already won seven tour-level matches in 2022 and he is coming off a quarterfinal performance last week in Marrakech.Paire continues to be a complete disaster on the court, which has been the case dating back to 2020. The Frenchman’s 2022 record stands at 2-9 and he is winless outside of the Australian Open. Clearly he has little to no interest at any event that isn’t a Grand Slam. Musetti will likely put Paire out of his misery right away in Monte-Carlo.

Pick: Musetti in 2

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.