All eyes will be on Rafael Nadal at the Monte-Carlo Country Club next week when he begins his clay-court campaign for a 12th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters crown that further extends his record. Over the last 15 years, the Spanish superstar has largely dominated every European tour on slow courts, and it is in the Principality that, most of the time, he has made a mark early on on his rivals.
Nadal has won 71 of his 76 games in Monte Carlo, including an Open Era record, eight consecutive titles from 2005 to 2012 and another three crowns from 2016 to 2018. Memories of how quickly Nadal dismantled the world's No.
1 game in the 2020 Roland Garros final may linger, but Monte Carlo resident Djokovic is also notoriously strong in the Principality. The Serbian superstar picked up the titles of 2013 and 2015, when he beat Nadal in the final and semi-finals respectively, and he comes to this year's edition rested after capturing a record ninth Australian Open title in February.
Djokovic and Nadal have met 25 times in the dust in their legendary 56-game ATP Head2Head rivalry, which Djokovic leads 29-27, but Nadal holds an 18-7 advantage in their gravel matchups that include four games in Monte Carlo.
Nadal, who beat Djokovic in the 2009 and 2012 Monte Carlo finals, has won his last four matches on clay (Madrid 2017, Rome 2018 and 2019 and Roland Garros 2020). Should they meet in the Monte Carlo final on April 18, both will be close to being in top form, and that match will come down to small margins.
Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has opened up on the role that his friend and coach Carlos Moya has played in helping him retrench his place among the elite in men’s tennis.
Rafael Nadal says he has known Carlos Moya since he was 14 years old
“I’ve known him since I was 14 years old, he was one of the best players in the world,” Rafael Nadal said, adding that Carlos Moya had become the top-ranked player in singles while he was still finding his feet in the sport.
He recalled the years he played Davis Cup with Moya, saying that the friendship that blossomed during that time has continued into his current coaching stint with him. “Today, he is my coach and a very good friend but (back) in his day, he was a Davis Cup teammate, a teammate with dozens of experiences on circuits of all kinds,” said the Spaniard who lifted an unprecedented 13th French Open title this year.
“He has always been a person who, in some way, has been there as a good reference for me,” the Spaniard said, adding that being around his former senior-pro and bouncing ideas off him has boosted his game no end.
“The fact that he has not only lived those experiences but has shared them with me as a player, I think, gives him adequate perspective of what he thinks can suit me at all times,” the Spaniard said.