Djokovic, Nadal begin road to Roland Garros in Monte Carlo

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – October 11, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Spain’s Rafael Nadal on the court docket earlier than the ultimate REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal start their clay court docket seasons in Monte Carlo this week, seeded to satisfy within the last which might seemingly be a costume rehearsal for an additional title showdown at Roland Garros in June.

Djokovic and Nadal haven’t performed because the delayed Australian Open in February the place the world primary Serb claimed his ninth Melbourne title and 18th profession main.

He has additionally since surpassed Roger Federer’s file for weeks at primary and can begin a 316th week on high of the world from Monday.

Djokovic is a two-time champion in Monte Carlo however has not received past the quarterfinals since his most up-to-date title in 2015.

Nadal, who gained a thirteenth Roland Garros title and record-equalling twentieth Grand Slam by beating Djokovic within the Paris last in October, is chasing a twelfth triumph in Monte Carlo.

There are issues over the lingering again downside Nadal is carrying forward of a grueling clay court docket season which peaks on the French Open from Might 30.

Nadal has 71-5 file in Monte Carlo the place he has fallen in need of the quarter-finals simply as soon as — on his debut in 2003 as a 16-year-old.

For the reason that Australian Open, Nadal has been changed as world quantity two by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

The Australian Open runner-up was the primary participant exterior the ‘Huge 4’ of Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to achieve quantity two on the earth since Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt in July 2005.

Nevertheless, he’s cautious of his probabilities on clay.

His 10 profession titles have all come on exhausting courts whereas he has by no means gained a match at Roland Garros in 4 visits.

“Perhaps in 2050 I’ll handle to get previous the primary spherical at Roland Garros,” the mercurial Russian joked.

Lacking from the Monte Carlo line-up is Roger Federer who final performed within the Principality in 2016 and has by no means gained the match.

Federer, who might be 40 in August, solely returned to the tour in Qatar in February after 13 months on the sidelines to get well from two knee surgical procedures.

The veteran Swiss plans to make his 2021 clay court docket bow in Madrid within the first week of Might.

Additionally lacking is world quantity 4 Dominic Thiem who, like Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, skipped the Miami Masters not too long ago as he was “not at 100%”.

The 2-time runner-up to Nadal at Roland Garros opted as an alternative to remain in Austria to apply on clay.

The 2020 Monte Carlo Masters was canceled as a result of coronavirus pandemic whereas this 12 months’s occasion might be behind closed doorways.

High seed Djokovic faces a tricky begin in Monte Carlo.

After a gap spherical bye, he’ll face in-form teenager Jannik Sinner if the Italian will get previous Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Nadal and Medvedev are within the reverse half of the draw.

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