Djokovic makes Nadal favourite in Monte Carlo as Wawrinka wins opener

Roger Federer on clay

This year, the 20-time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer has dropped two matches on the ATP tour this year and he has captured two out of three championship matches that he played. - Djokovic has won two consecutive matches in Monte-Carlo against Nadal. Should he win one of this year's three clay-court Masters 1000 events, where Nadal will also be present, the psychological boost could be crucial for Djokovic.

Djokovic is the top seed for the Monte Carlo Masters but, after winning the Australian Open in January, he suffered surprise early exits in Indian Wells and Miami, losing in the third and fourth rounds respectively. On the Next Generation, the 21-year-old added: "We all want to be the best, some of us think that we are already the best, but we all have a lot of hard work ahead of us, we all have great talent". He plans to play in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome, as usual, before defending his French Open title, and few would bet against him dominating once again. "That's the goal. I arrived here on Friday as usual, I had some hours of practice and I hope the competition puts me in the rhythm that I need".

With Nadal out of action between last year's US Open and this year's Australian Open with knee trouble, an abdominal injury and then an ankle issue that required surgery, the stop-start nature of his past 18 months has left some wondering if this year's clay-court season could be more open than usual. He's won all the big ones. Certainly I was disappointed because I thought I was playing better and better and I thought I could go far. "It doesn't necessarily mean it's going to affect completely my state of mind approaching Roland Garros, but it would definitely serve the confidence better if I have won one coming into Paris". "Indian Wells, Miami have been kind of so and so, in terms of how I played and the results".

Novak Djokovic says beating Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros is one of the "ultimate challenges" in tennis as he prepares to begin his clay-court campaign at the Monte-Carlo Masters.

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"I think Rafa is obviously always a very clear favourite on any clay court in the world and that doesn't change".

"If he's physically fit he's definitely the number one guy on this surface, without a doubt". I have seen him play here, he's been here a few days, seems like he's fine.

"After him, it's quite open".

"That would be the match of the season, yes", Djokovic said Sunday at the Monte Carlo Masters. "He won the last three slams in a row, which is wonderful, and I think he also has in his mind that he can beat Rafa anywhere". I had a great last six months of the season, the 31-year-old Serb said.

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