Rafael Nadal Ready To Return To Action After Injury Lay-Off

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic

GETTYRafael Nadal could face Novak Djokovic for the first time in 11 months

A 10-time victor of this event, Nadal is simply gearing up for another run at his favorite grand slam, a tournament he'll be defending for the first time since 2014.

After being forced to retire from his last-eight clash with Marin Cilic in Melbourne, he briefly lost his top spot to Roger Federer.

This is going to be the second year in a row that Federer will miss out on the clay court competition.

"It's obvious that sometimes when you play a rally with 56 shots as I did with Novak (Djokovic) a couple of years ago in the final (US Open 2013), you can not expect a good point if you have 25 seconds on the next point", said the 16-time Grand Slam champion.

"He said that a couple of days ago - and I thought he would play Roland Garros".

He opens with a bye and then either Pablo Cuevas or Fernando Verdasco - both are inconsistent these days - before a potential round three with Milos Raonic, another player whose level is tough to judge on clay now.

Djokovic's start of the season was disrupted by an elbow surgery, and has since suffered defeats in consecutive opening matches at Indian Wells and Miami.

On the other hand, Rafael Nadal has to defend 4,680 points in the next two months and if he doesn't successfully defend his titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, Federer will become the world no.

The 31-year-old made his comeback from a hip injury with two wins in Spain's Davis Cup quarter-final victory over Germany last weekend, having not played previously since January's Australian Open.

"I feel that I'm playing well". It was a good time to be Novak Djokovic.

"I love this event and the weather has been good. 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.

Kokkinakis received a wildcard into the Monte Carlo draw with his ranking still a low 148 following a long battle with injuries that halted his progress over the past three years.

Novak Djokovic has advanced to the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters after recording a comfortable 6-0 6-1 win over Dusan Lajovic to whet appetites for a potential showdown against Rafael Nadal.

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