Rafael Nadal installs 'fear factor' at Montecarlo Masters

by   |  VIEW 8795

Rafael Nadal installs 'fear factor' at Montecarlo Masters

Rafael Nadal is back. At his first appearance in his natural habitat, the Spanish champion gave a very severe lesson to poor Federico Delbonis by taking the pass for the round of 16 of the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo. The world number 3 hadn't played since the Australian Open, thanks to an annoying back problem that affected his start to the season.

The 34-year-old Majorcan took his time and preferred to skip the Masters 1000 in Miami, a tournament that has historically never brought him so much joy. If needed, today's performance has dispelled almost all doubts about the physical condition of Rafa, who wants to win his 12th title in the Principality.

The main goal of the Iberian is to be 100% found for the start of Roland Garros, postponed by a week due to the delicate health situation in France. In the event of a 14th triumph in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, Nadal would break his eternal rival Roger Federer in the Grand Slam standings for the first time.

Rafael Nadal on his debut in Montecarlo

"It was a good start and it's always good to come back to the competition with the victory," the world No 3 said. "I think I played a solid match and I had to keep going.

I had some positive feelings. I have respect for every opponent and of course for Federico it is no exception. He played some azaming matches on clay, winning tournaments, so maximum respect" - Rafael Nadal added. Nadal takes on Dimitrov in the next round, a man who is slowly starting to return to his best.

"He started the season playing well and is always a tough battle," Nadal said. "He is a great player and good friend of mine. I have to play my best if I want to keep going." Rafael Nadal will enter this contest as the heavy favorite, given his dominant head-to-head against Grigor Dimitrov and his past record at the venue.

That said, the second seed cannot afford to discount his opponent. Dimitrov has put his strengths to good use throughout the week. By taking out a couple of quality opponents, he has shown that he is more than capable of playing some great claycourt tennis.

The start of the match will be crucial, as both men will look to assert their dominance from the back of the court. The Bulgarian possesses powerful shots off both wings, and could ask a few questions of Nadal. But if the Spaniard can hold steady during the Dimitrov h*t streaks, he should have enough in the tank to wear his opponent down.