'Rafael Nadal will need to be at his best from...', says former star

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'Rafael Nadal will need to be at his best from...', says former star

Rafael Nadal will not be seeking his 12th Monte-Carlo crown next week, missing his favorite Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2004. The 11-time champion will skip action in the Principality after fracturing his left rib during the Indian Wells campaign.

The Spaniard reached the final in the desert but will need to be away from the track for four to six weeks to recover. Thus, Nadal will not play in Monte Carlo for the first time in 18 years, in which he has participated every year since 2005 and has become the ultimate champion in the first clay-court Masters 1000 event of the season.

Nadal made his Masters 1000 debut in 2003 at the age of 16, qualifying for the Monte Carlo main draw and defeating two rivals to meet in the round of 16. A year later, the teenager skipped Monte Carlo with an ankle injury from Estoril and returned to the Principality in 2005 to establish his dominance.

Rafa has been 71-5 in Monte Carlo since 2005, winning 11 titles and remaining undefeated between 2005-2012. After a couple of discreet years for his level, the Spaniard recovered 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 before Monte Carlo, dealing with a back injury and hoping for a better run on his beloved surface. The Spaniard recorded two resounding victories over Federico Delbonis and Grigor Dimitrov to reach the quarterfinals.

However, Andrey Rublev proved too strong for the king of clay and defeated him 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 32 minutes.

Nadal had an astounding start to the year

Chris Evert believes Rafael Nadal's injury problems are a blessing in disguise as they allow the Mallorcan time to rest his body.

"I think any time Rafa can rest and take time off, I think is a bonus, is a positive for him," she added. "What comes into effect is the years and years and years before. It is not only what happened three or four weeks ago."

The 18-time Slam champion then shifted her focus to the French Open. She highlighted how the Spaniard will need to be at his best from a physical standpoint to compete in the best-of-five format at Roland Garros. "He has put his body through the mill the last 20 years and I think the more important thing right now is making sure that he is healthy, especially when you are playing three out of five sets," Evert said.