Nadal and the opportunity to achieve the ‘Eleventh’ in Monte Carlo

Ⓒ AFP – José Jordán – | The Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal wins the German Alexander Zverev in a quarterfinal match of the Davis Cup on April 8, 2018 in Valencia

Despite the scarce shooting, Rafa Nadal is still the big favorite for the dirt season that opens on Sunday in Monte Carlo, where he is looking for his eleventh trophy, first stop of his great goal of the season, winning Roland Garros, also for the eleventh time .

Away from the tracks for two months, the ‘brick dust beast’ completed a perfect return last weekend on his favorite surface, in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup against Germany in the bullring of Valencia.

First he passed over veteran Philipp Kolhschreiber (6-2, 6-2, 6-3) and then crushed one of the men called to succeed him, Alexander Zverev (6-1, 6-4, 6-4).

To such an extent that his mentor and former coach, Toni Nadal, said he was “a little surprised” by the level of play of the world number 1.

“This is an augury for a very good year on clay,” added the man who helped build the myth.

– Forgotten injury –

His muscular injury in his right leg, which forced him to retire in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, seems over. If he does not suffer a relapse, Nadal seems in a position to star in one of his unstoppable European spring tours.

In Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid or Paris you will not meet again with his great rival, Roger Federer, who has decided not to participate in the clay season, as he did last year, to preserve forces for the grass. Last year could not give better results, with a win at Wimbledon, which this year is played between July 2 and 15.

Another former world number 1, Andy Murray, operated on the hip in January, has not returned to the competition.

In addition to the unpredictable Stan Wawrinka, winner of Roland Garros in 2015 and finalist last year, arrives physically just to compete in the Principality.

Yes Novak Djokovic will compete, but at what level? His recent performances in Indian Wells and Miami led to the separation of Serbian technicians André Agassi and Radek Stepanek, and the probable reunion with his former coach Marian Vajda.

Protagonist of this season start with titles in Acapulco and Indian Wells, the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, already placed in the world number 6, will take a break.

Yes it will compete the world number 3 and finalist in Australia, the Croatian Marin Cilic, always more dangerous in the fast tracks.

– Number 1 in play –

Can any member of the new wave worry Nadal in Monaco? Dominic Thiem presents the best references in brick dust, but the 24-year-old Austrian is returning after a break.

“Dominic must first play a match, a tournament, before saying if the injury (on an ankle) is healed,” said coach Günther Bresnik, whose disciple was the only one to beat Nadal on clay on a clay court last year.

It happened in the quarterfinals of Rome. The Spaniard played tired after winning three consecutive titles (Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid). Then he took a breath and reconquered Roland Garros.

His collection of 2017 forces him to defend until the middle of June 4,680 points. To keep the first place you will need to do it at least as well as last year. A false step in Monte Carlo and the crown will return, without playing, at the hands of Federer.

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