Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Flawless Djokovic stops the rot in Monte Carlo

Flawless Djokovic stops the rot in Monte Carlo

Rafael Nadal is wary of saying he's fully recovered from a troublesome right thigh injury as he defends his Monte Carlo Masters title.

The Spaniard is hoping he has the game to dominate the clay court season in the same manner as previous year when, 12 months ago, he went on to win a 10th Barcelona title then completed La Decima at Rolland Garros.

Unless Nadal wins an 11th Monte Carlo title Roger Federer, who is skipping the claycourt season as he did past year, will return to the top spot without hitting a ball. Nadal has five main tour matches under his belt this season and is now the top ranked player in the world. I got to prepare if I need to play tomorrow.

Speaking about the consequences of the controversial addition to the game, Nadal said ahead of his Monte Carlo title defence: "For me it's not the ideal thing but if the sport is moving that way or they want to move that way, the only thing I can do is accept it and play". After his loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open, the Swiss player chose to skip the clay season again. Then he lost his opening matches in March at Indian Wells - to a qualifier ranked outside the top 100 - and Miami. He may face fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the second round, but the sterner test is a potential tie against Nadal in the quarter-finals. He leads Berdych 4-1 head-to-head but all four wins over the Czech came on hard courts.

Both players started the match pretty well, firing some impressive winners with this slowly shaping up to be an outstanding contest.

Rafael Nadal will play his first match since the Australian Open, if you don't count the Davis Cup action.

"It's not great but first match on clay, I'm expecting [a] little soreness", Nishikori said. "I think it needs to be slightly balanced but I think it can be good for tennis to have something like that".

It is no doubt that the Spaniard will be favourite to win in Monte-Carlo as he eyes winning the event for the 11th time in his Tennis career. This is my first event of the year, that I hope I can finish and I am excited about that.

Two-time former champion Djokovic didn't let national sentiment, or even friendship, get in the way of a 6-0, 6-1 victory over fellow Serbian Dusan Lajovic at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. I always try to be very focused at the beginning of the tournament on what I'm doing. Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek left his camp, while former coach Marian Vajda - who he parted ways with previous year - was drafted back in on a trial basis.

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