Rafael Nadal has dig at Roger Federer for avoiding him on clay

Frederick Owens
April 17, 2018

Rafael Nadal and Aljaz Bedene meet in the second round of the 2018 tennis Monte Carlo Masters.

Former world number one Novak Djokovic loses just one game on his way to victory over Dusan Lajovic in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

"Marian's return has awakened many positive emotions".

Speaking about the consequences of the controversial addition to the game, Nadal said ahead of his Monte Carlo title defence: "For me it's not the ideal thing but if the sport is moving that way or they want to move that way, the only thing I can do is accept it and play".

Monday's win was his first since the Australian Open in January, after being dumped out in Indian Wells and Miami by Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire respectively.

"So after two years, finally I can play without pain". "It's first match on clay", Djokovic said.

"It's a fresh start I think for both of us. I missed him", Djokovic said.

Djokovic used to be the player everyone was chasing. It's the same for Rafael Nadal against fellow Spaniards, and for Roger Federer against his friend Stan Wawrinka - even after Wawrinka became a Grand Slam champion himself.

He starts on Wednesday in Monte Carlo against the victor of this afternoon's contest between Aljaz Bedene and Mirza Basic, but his quarter of the drawer is seriously tricky.

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It's the alpha-dog edge; the lesser-accomplished countrymen come on court, for whatever reason, with far less intrinsic belief in victory than their talent might indicate.

The Japanese player, ranked 36th, came back in late February when he lost to Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the Mexico Open. But of course, Djokovic's play had something to do with that. Djokovic saved break points at 1-1, 30/40 and at 3/1, 30/40. He's 5-2 against Janko Tipsarevic.

But Djokovic did not look at all disgruntled by his early start.

He is now a ten-time champion in men's singles at the Monte-Carlo Masters. He lost to then-No.

Three of the four semi-finalists from last year's edition are in the top half, which will no doubt be an absolute clay blood bath.

Djokovic took the second half of previous year off and then had a medical procedure in February.

"We both enjoyed a lot the past 10 days of practice we had".

Djokovic and Coric have met just once, two years ago in Madrid. Herbert won the Monte Carlo doubles title with Nicolas Mahut in 2016.

Austrian Dominic Thiem opens his campaign against Andrey Rublev on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports Arena from 10am.

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