Nadal who is a 16-time Grand Slam victor will be eyeing his 11 title at the Monte Carlo Masters as he looks to win the tournament for the third time in a row.
The Spaniard is hoping he has the game to dominate the clay court season in the same manner as past year when, 12 months ago, he went on to win a 10th Barcelona title then completed La Decima at Rolland Garros.
" He says he will love to play against me again in best-of-five sets on clay". "A few days later he says he will not play in one (clay) event, so there's a little bit of controversy with that".
But with 20-time major victor Federer again skipping the clay season, Nadal must wait a while longer to try and avenge a run of five straight defeats to the Swiss star. Then he lost his opening matches in March at Indian Wells - to a qualifier ranked outside the top 100 - and Miami. His display against world number four Alexander Zverev was particularly impressive, winning 6-1 6-4 6-4. "I'm practicing well; I am playing with the right intensity I think".
"I know that I can play much better than that, but I couldn't".
"I always feel good when I am here", Nadal said. This is my first event of the year, that I hope I can finish and I am excited about that.
Two-time champion Djokovic is seeded No. 9 in Monte Carlo and is a potential quarter-final opponent for Nadal.
But while the 24-year-old Austrian has already shown his mettle on the surface, and defeated Nadal twice in seven clay meetings, Thiem's record in Monte Carlo is a poor 3-4 win-loss. I wanted to share something simple I always try to remember: no matter how good you are at something, there is always more to learn, more to improve, more to explore.so keep your head in the game.
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 12-time grand slam champion, with coach Marian Vajda back in his corner after his recent split with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, eased to a 6-0 6-1 win in only 56 minutes on a glorious Monday in the Principality.