The first of three Masters 1000 clay tournaments begins on Sunday as stars of the ATP tour take to the courts of the Monte Carlo Country Club, looking to stop Rafael Nadal from clinching a record-extending 11th trophy there.
Nadal's victory at Monte Carlo past year made him the first men's tennis player in the Open era to win the same title 10 times.
Tougher tests will no doubt follow, with Croatian ace Borna Coric awaiting him in round two before a potential tie with clay-court specialist Dominic Thiem in the last-16. I'm enjoying being here in Monte Carlo in an event that always brings me to the best feelings possible.
Federer is not the only big name missing from the Monte Carlo draw, with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka also absent as they recover from injuries. Then I felt great practising in Acapulco, playing very well, but then just the day before.
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"He says he will love to play against me again in best of five sets on clay, and I thought he would play Roland Garros", Nadal said, with a wry smile. It's hopefully going to be my first event of the year that I can finish.
Both players started the match pretty well, firing some impressive winners with this slowly shaping up to be an outstanding contest.
"I always feel good when I am here", Nadal said. He then won a 10th French Open.
The 36-year-old swiss' decision to stay out of the clay season last year obviously paid off as he went on to Wimbledon and bagged the trophy and an extra title.
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"I know that I can play much better than that, but I couldn't".
After significant rest during the second half of a year ago and a medical procedure in February, Djokovic spoke confidently of being pain-free - at long last.
The 30-year-old dropped just eight points during the first set as he dominated against his compatriot, and it was a similar story in the second. "In my experience, on the tennis court, the crowd gets more insane, the crowd gets more emotional and enjoys the match with more passion when you play good points".
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"They won the title because they were the best team, because they won a great amount of points". West Brom are a good team and don't deserve to be that low in the league .
The 28-year-old, " who is producing his first monte-carlo appearance will face Russian Daniil Medvedev from the future round. "Playing well below the desired level, it wasn't easy for me to cope".
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