Monte Carlo Masters 2018: Alexander Zverev makes surprise Rafael Nadal claim

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Last year, Nadal dominated the entire clay season winning his 10th title at French Open, Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.

The 31-year-old 16-time Grand Slam victor is the top seed for the tournament at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, which begins today.

The world No 4, who has two Masters 1000 titles to his name, has been handed a bye for the first round.

Nadal, who made his comeback from injury during Spain's recent Davis Cup victory over Germany, is among a field which also includes Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

The other two matches on Sunday saw Mischa Zverev defeat Felix Auger Aliassime 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-1, while Daniil Medvedev came from a set down to overcome Marton Fucsovics 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 7-5.

"I'm practicing well, I am playing with the right intensity I think", Nadal said during a media appointment, as per the Telegraph.

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Rafael Nadal will return to the ATP Tour after an injury-enforced three-month absence at the Monte Carlo Masters, but coach Carlos Moya says he is struggling for confidence.

"That helps me. I love this event".

'I always feel good when I am here, ' Nadal added.

"It's hopefully going to be my first event of the year that I can finish".

Nadal will be chiefly concerned with arriving in Paris in tip-top shape but also in the back of his mind is the fact that his number one ranking is hanging by a thread.

World number one Rafael Nadal playfully teased long-time rival Roger Federer for being "contradictory" by skipping the clay-court season for a second year in succession. But he is realising that he is getting older and the kilometres and matches are piling up. "I know I gotta keep mine", Djokovic said on Twitter this week. The 30-year-old consequently split with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek earlier this month, with Djokovic stating he is looking for new ways to rediscover his form.

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