The 11-time Monte Carlo Masters champion Rafael Nadal returns to action this week after not playing for two months, seeking another trophy at his beloved event. Nadal's campaign could have been over already before it started, as he trained with world no.
2 Daniil Medvedev on Monday, the day he and the Russian underwent their regular coronavirus tests. As it turned out, Medvedev tested positive and withdrew from the tournament, raising many concerns among Nadal's fans. Still, Rafa's team confirmed that he tested negative and got a green light to kick off the action against Federico Delbonis on Wednesday.
Nadal had to stay away from the court since the Australian Open, dealing with a back injury and making a long-awaited return in Monte Carlo. Rafa made the Monte Carlo debut in 2003 at 16, qualifying for the main draw and winning two encounters.
Between 2005-2012, Nadal remained unbeaten in Monte Carlo, conquering one title after another for the most dominant performance in the Open era at a single event! The Spaniard had lost the ground between 2013-2015 before bouncing back in 2016, winning three consecutive crowns to extend his dominance in the Principality and become the only player with 11 titles at one tournament.
In his previous Monte Carlo appearance, Nadal suffered a heavy Fabio Fognini loss in the semi-final two years ago, playing one of his worst matches on clay and looking eager to fix that in the upcoming days. Monte Carlo will be Nadal's only second tournament of the season, as he skipped the ATP Cup, Rotterdam and Miami due to a back injury.
Rafa felt the pain in Adelaide in January, traveling to Melbourne with concerns and hoping to improve it during the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal is ready to kick off his Monte Carlo campaign on Wednesday.
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 recovered his game 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 in three years.
"Nadal is absolutely fine. As we understand, the virus does not anyways show before three-four days. The next scheduled testing is in three days," Benito Perez-Barbadillo said.