By John Delong
(Editor’s note: This is one of a series of updates on players who have committed to this year’s Winston-Salem Open.)
At this time a year ago, Juan Monaco was ranked No. 11 in the world after having reached a career-best No. 10 earlier in the summer.
He was basking in the glow of four ATP World Tour wins in 2012, playing the best tennis of his life.
Unfortunately, his 2013 season started off with a hand injury – he lost in the first round at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and didn’t play much in between – and so his ranking has dropped as the points from those four 2012 titles have come off.
But Monaco is healthy again and if his recent play is any indication, he could be flying under the radar in this year’s Winston-Salem Open.
The 29-year-old Argentine recently made the finals at Kitzbuhel, losing to another WSO entry Marcel Granollers, and he was feeling good about his game going into this week’s Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati where he won his first round match against fellow WSO entrant Jurgen Melzer.
Monaco didn’t play last week in Montreal, but after the loss to Granollers – in which he won the first set 6-0 but then lost a tiebreak in the second and eventually succumbed in the third – he seemed very optimistic about the rest of the summer.
"I am disappointed to not have been able to come through today," he said. "The score never lied and I need to congratulate Marcel because he was a better player than me. But I know that overall it was a great week for me. If I can be in the final every week, I will sign immediately. When I think of where I was at the beginning of the season, this is great. I probably played my best tennis of the year in the first set, which I need to be happy about."
Monaco won his eighth career ATP World Tour singles title in May on clay at Dusseldorf.
His summer has been solid, although not spectacular.
He lost in the third round at Wimbledon, went to the quarterfinals at Hamburg, went to the third round in Gstaad and then the finals at Kitzbuhel.
He has a tough draw in Cincinnati this week. After his win over Melzer, he faces top-seeded Novak Djokovic in the second round.
Monaco will be making a return to the Winston-Salem Open after playing in the inaugural 2011 WSO. He made it to the quarterfinals in 2011 before losing to Andy Roddick. He went on to reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open the following week, eventually losing to Roger Federer.