"It is one of the most lovely clubs in the world without a doubt".
The 16-time Grand Slam champion is bidding for an incredible 11th title in Monaco and his third in a row, but knows that anything less than that would see him lose the number-one spot to the absent Federer.
The 31-year-old, Nadal, begins his claycourt title-hunting season with few matches in the legs this year though, having taken an extended rest after suffering a hip injury in Melbourne against Croatia's Marin Cilic who will be seeded two at the Monte Carlo Country Club overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately for Thiem, he was placed in Nadal's top half of the draw - as well as the unseeded Djokovic, whose potential level is impossible to assess - and has a problematic quarter-final in prospect.
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. "Every match I win is very important", Nadal said, as quoted by ATP's official website.
"It's a fresh start I think for both of us".
Milos Raonic rebounded after a shaky first set to defeat Monegasque wild card Lucas Catarina 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.
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"Especially this year I didn't not finish one event so hopefully this one will not be the first!" He then won a 10th French Open.
Doubts had remained over his fitness after a recurring hip injury forced him out of Acapulco Open in February.
Rafael Nadal will play his first match since the Australian Open, if you don't count the Davis Cup action. I always feel comfortable here.
When the 30-year-old Serb deposed Donald Young in the first round at the Australian Open, it was with his usual flourishes that he did so: the deep groundstrokes and plays at the net that have always been his trademark style.
The downturn for Djokovic, who less than two years ago could not be beaten on the men's tour, is in large part due to an elbow problem that does not seem to have fully healed, and off-court distractions he has not detailed publicly. The more free points, the better chance Bedene has of pulling off a rather big upset.
He won on his first match point, whipped off his hat, tilted his head back, and raised his hands in triumph.
"I played only with the shot clock in IPTL and it was only 20 seconds".