Angry Donaldson squares up to umpire in Monte Carlo

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic

Ahead of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, a cadre of ATP stars and British celebrities squared off in a charity exhibition chock-full of laughs and hijinks. I'm enjoying being here in Monte Carlo in an event that always brings me to the best feelings possible.

Doubts had remained over his fitness after a recurring hip injury forced him out of Acapulco Open in February.

"I always feel good when I am here", Nadal said.

Both players started the match pretty well, firing some impressive winners with this slowly shaping up to be an outstanding contest.

"I train on this court, so I feel at home", said Djokovic, who lives in Monaco.

The younger Zverev brother, at [10.5], is the market second favourite, but doesn't have the best clay data (just a 108.9% combined hold/break percentage in the last 12 months), and his 16-4 clay record in this time period indicates he won a ton of tight matches, as is often the case with him.

"I did all the things the right way, practicing one week before, to be ready for the tournament and then it happened", Nadal told reporters.


Djokovic has also had to contend with injury in recent months and is not being tipped to mount a serious challenge for Nadal's Monte Carlo Crown.

The last time Novak Djokovic faced Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters, it was 2015, and the straight-set victory over his rival was nothing more than a warm-up before he won the final proper.

But much has changed since that encounter on the sun-kissed Court Rainier III, and if the pair meet in the quarter-final stage of this year's tournament, it will be a slog to fell Nadal, who is in resurgent form atop the world rankings.

"It's not great but, I mean, first match on clay, you know, I'm expecting (a) little soreness", said Nishikori. Bedene is coming off a solid showing in which he got 70 percent of his first serves in play and dropped just 15 service points overall.

After significant rest during the second half of previous year and a medical procedure in February, Djokovic spoke confidently of being pain-free - at long last.

"I played only with the shot clock in IPTL and it was only 20 seconds. I think it needs to be slightly balanced but I think it can be good for tennis to have something like that".

A furious Jared Donaldson confronted umpire Arnaud Gabas in a heated exchange during his first-round defeat to Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.

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