The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal had to stay away from the court for almost two months, dealing with a back injury and making a long-awaited return next week in Monte Carlo. The Spaniard is the ultimate champion in the Principality, lifting 11 trophies between 2005-2018 and feeling like at home at the outstanding resort that hosts tennis matches since the end of the 19th century!
Rafa made the Monte Carlo debut in 2003 at 16, winning two encounters and celebrating the first title two years later. Between 2005-2012, Nadal remained unbeaten in Monte Carlo, conquering one title after another for the most dominant performance in the Open era at one event.
The Spaniard had lost the ground a bit in 2013, 2014 and 2015 before bouncing back in 2016, winning three consecutive crowns to extend his dominance. In his last appearance in the Principality, Nadal suffered a heavy Fabio Fognini loss in the semi-final in 2019, eager to change that next week and fight for the 12th trophy.
Monte Carlo will be Nadal's second tournament of the season, as he had to skip the ATP Cup, Rotterdam and Miami due to a back injury. Rafa felt the pain in Adelaide in January, traveling to Melbourne with concerns over his physical shape and hoping to improve it during the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal can't wait to compete in Monte Carlo again after two years.
The Spaniard defeated four rivals in straight sets to avoid spending more time on the court, feeling better and facing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters.
Playing on a high level, Rafa claimed the opening two sets before the Greek took charge in the third, taking it in the tie break and keeping that level in sets four and five to oust the 2009 champion. Rested and ready to give his 100%, Nadal targets the first ATP title since the last year's Roland Garros, avoiding meeting Novak Djokovic before the final and hoping to lift the beloved trophy for the first time since 2018.
"I'm happy to be back in action. I'm thrilled to be back here in this fantastic place. Monte Carlo is a part of our sport's history and my personal history as well. I'm very excited to be back. I'm enjoying the first couple of days here with some beautiful weather and good tennis conditions. I can't wait to start," Rafael Nadal said.