Published: Wed, April 17, 2019
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Nadal downbeat as he prepares to play at Monte-Carlo Masters

Nadal downbeat as he prepares to play at Monte-Carlo Masters

The top-ranked Djokovic has won the past three majors in straight sets, including a stunning rout of Nadal in the Australian Open final this year. But I think, personally, people understood why he decided as well to skip the clay-court season a year ago and I also understand why he wants to play.

In a press conference, Alexander Zverev commented on the Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray dominance. In 2017 I won Washington and Montreal titles and then in Cincinnati, I had no energy. Eleven times the champion in Monte Carlo, he also will be going for title No. 12 in Barcelona next week and title No. 12 in the French Open at Roland-Garros next month - numbers that hardly seem possible, especially when said out loud.

"He's been playing great tennis lately, winning two out of his last three events (Dubai and Miami with an Indian Wells final against Thiem)". "I mean, certainly other Slams more than Roland Garros for Roger are, so to say - he has more chance to win other slams than Roland Garros, but he has won Roland Garros in the past". But after winning the first set against clay-court stalwart Dominic Thiem, Djokovic could not maintain his level as the Austrian upped his, eventually losing in a three-setter in the Round of 16 after two hours and 29 minutes.

"But I've had some (successful) Roland Garros tournaments in the past where I didn't win any of the big (clay) ones (Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome) before. He's got a better title chance at tournaments other than Roland Garros, but he has won it in the past (2009)". Speaking in Monte Carlo, he reiterated that he "had a lot going on off the court".

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"Novak Djokovic who is on his way to collect his fourth consecutive Slam for the second time was interrogated upon Federer's ability to defend the Roland Garros 2019 crown, "'I think so", Novak Djokovic replied. "I'm looking forward to playing this year". Definitely, for our sport, it's better that he plays.

But with the European clay-court swing getting underway at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the Serbian admits that 11-time champion Rafael Nadal is the favourite.

"I think Rafa is always a very clear favorite on any clay court in the world, and it doesn't change", Djokovic said.

"If he's physically fit he's definitely the number one guy on this surface, without a doubt".

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"I don't see any particular issues for him on this (slow) surface".

Nadal arrived in Monte Carlo on Friday and has looked good in practice and appeared relaxed in his media commitments away from the court - usually a good sign of his state of mind.

"I thought tennis was missing him definitely on clay previous year".

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