Rafael Nadal will not seek the 12th Monte Carlo crown next week, missing his favorite Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2004! The 11-time champion will skip the action in the Principality after fracturing his left rib during the Indian Wells campaign.
The Spaniard reached the final in the desert but will have to stay away from the court for four and six weeks to recover. Thus, Nadal will not play in Monte Carlo for the first time in 18 years, entering every year since 2005 and becoming the ultimate champion at the season's first clay-court Masters 1000 event.
Nadal made the Masters 1000 debut in 2003 at 16, qualifying for the Monte Carlo main draw and defeating two rivals to find himself in the last 16. A year later, a teenager skipped Monte Carlo due to an ankle injury from Estoril and returned to the Principality in 2005 to establish his domination.
Rafael Nadal will skip Monte Carlo for the first time since 2004.
Rafa has been 71-5 in Monte Carlo since 2005, conquering 11 titles and staying undefeated between 2005-2012! After a couple of mediocre years for his standards, the Spaniard bounced back and lifted three consecutive trophies between 2016 and 2018.
Nadal failed to deliver the 12th crown in the last two editions. Last year, Rafa did not play for two months ahead of Monte Carlo, dealing with a back injury and hoping for a better run on his beloved surface. The Spaniard claimed two commanding victories over Federico Delbonis and Grigor Dimitrov to sail into the quarter-final.
Still, Andrey Rublev proved too strong for the king of clay and beat him 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 32 minutes. It was Nadal's earliest Monte Carlo loss since 2014. He failed to overpower an in-form young gun in the baseline rallies and left the Principality with modest 180 points.
Rublev squandered the advantage in the second set. Still, he started all over in the decider to advance into the second straight Masters 1000 semi-final after Miami a few weeks earlier. Rublev stole Nadal's serve seven times, dominating the scoreboard in sets one and three and delivering one of his most cherished victories.
Like in 2019 against Fabio Fognini, Nadal was miles from his best, spraying too many double faults and failing to match Rublev's pace in sets one and three to hit the exit door. Rafa will try to recover in time for Barcelona, where he claimed the title a year ago in that memorable final against Stefanos Tsitsipas after saving a match point.