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Nadal eyes clay success in Monaco

dpa logodpa 16/04/2017

Rafael Nadal is the king of clay for a reason. © Getty Images Rafael Nadal is the king of clay for a reason. Rafael Nadal is the king of clay for a reason and with no Roger Federer around this week in Monaco he might just be able to start the claycourt season on a high

Rafael Nadal is preparing to test himself this week at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The 30-year-old owns nine titles at the Monaco Country Club and could set a possibly unreachable standard should he lift a 10th after the final in a week.

But getting it all into position is always a huge, demanding task for the Spaniard.

"Monte Carlo is unique for me, I'm here to adjust my game and be ready to play," Nadal said.

"The season has started well for me. I'm happy with how I'm playing.

"This is an historic event for me, I'm working to be ready. I'm excited to be here."

Nadal, 30, won his last title a year ago after a three-year gap, beating Gael Monfils in the final after dispatching Andy Murray in the semis.

Even the mighty Nadal admitted that he needs time to adjust to his favourite surface where he has achieved his greatest hits.

After losing finals to Roger Federer this season at the Australian Opens and Indian Wells, Nadal seems determined to start making up ground on the clay.

"I need hours on court remembering things: how to win point, how to defend. It's not because I've had a lot of of success. Things are not that easy for for me, especially when I've not played on it for almost a year," he said.

"I think I'm doing well but I can improve. I'm happy playing tennis when I'm not injured and when I fell myself competitive. That makes me happy. I want to feel competitive enough to compete for the things that really motivate me."

The field is led by Murray and Novak Djokovic, each coming back from an elbow injury. Djokovic, who on the title in 2013 and 2015 and is playing at home as he has his base in the principality.

Murray is using the week to test his fitness after slowly getting his serving arm back into full action

"I feel great," Djokovic said. "All of my thoughts next week will be on this event, I won it in 2013 and 2015. I'm hoping this is the place to have a new start to the season."

World No.1 Murray said that while his hopes on the clay are modest, he feels confident about his improving game.

"I would not be playing if I felt I was taking a risk. For the last two days I've been serving normally. By the time of my match I will have had five days of serving at the right speed."

On court in the first round 11th seed David Goffin was ruthless in an all-Belgian clash, dispatching compatriot Steve Darcis 6-2 6-1 in 72 minutes.

Gilles Simon of France put out Malek Jaziri 6-2 6-2 while Joao Sousa beat German Florian Mayer 6-3 6-2.

Video provided by SKy Sports

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