Novak Djokovic believes that Rafael Nadal will be the player to beat during the clay-court season. Speaking on Sunday at the Monte Carlo Masters, the Serb said: "I think Rafa always is a very clear favourite on any clay court in the world, and it doesn’t change.
He’s still there. I mean, obviously depends how he’s feeling physically. You know, I have seen him play here, so he’s been here a few days. Seems like he’s fine. You know, if he’s physically fit, he’s definitely the No.
1 guy, you know, on this surface without a doubt. And then after him, it’s quite open. You know, I think [Alexander] Zverev has done very well on clay in the last few years. Dominic Thiem, of course. Roger is going to play, as well, this season.
That’s great for tennis. I think it is pretty open. ‘Yes, I mean, for sure, beating Rafa in Roland Garros would be ‑ and he’s one of the ultimate challenges of the sport, as it is winning against Roger in Wimbledon, yeah.
I have been fortunate to experience both, so, you know, it is quite a special feeling, because they have dominated those surfaces so much in their careers." Djokovic looks forward to starting his campaign at the Monte Carlo Masters.
The Serbian player said: “I can’t wait to step on the court, I’ve been training hard. Some top players have been here for a week practising. I had a great last six months of the season. And I had an amazing start this year. Indian Wells and Miami were so-so – I’ll try to pick that up and see how it goes on clay”.