Wednesday would be a mighty fine day to catch a flight – or a ride – to Monte-Carlo and plop yourself in front of Court Rainier III. Two former champions and the second seed will compete on the main show court of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the season's first clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.
But no one has to debate who will be the main attraction on day four: 10-time champion Rafael Nadal takes that honour. The 31-year-old will begin his path to an unprecedented 11th title in the Principality.
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But, since then, Bedene has shown he can compete on clay. Last year, he reached his first ATP World Tour final on clay at the Gazprom Hungarian Open in Budapest (l. to Pouille). Earlier this year, Bedene also made the Argentina Open title match in Buenos Aires (l. to Thiem).
It will be only Nadal's eighth tour-level match of the year (6-1) and second tournament of 2018. The World No. 1 reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open before having to retire against Marin Cilic because of a right hip injury, which also forced him to withdraw from Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami.
The Spaniard, however, made a successful return to tour-level action and to clay earlier this month, going 2-0 in singles (d. Zverev, Kohlschreiber) to help Spain beat Germany and advance to the Davis Cup World Group semi-finals.
“I love this event and the weather has been good. Being in Monte-Carlo always gives me the best feelings possible and good memories. When the time comes to play, I need to be at my best,” said Nadal, who has a 63-4 record in Monaco. “I always try to be very focused at the beginning of the tournament on what I’m doing. Every match I win is very important.”
Before Nadal, two-time champion (2013, 2015) Novak Djokovic will try to continue his scorching start to the clay-court season against Croatian Borna Coric. Djokovic needed only 57 minutes to beat countryman Dusan Lajovic on Monday, advancing 6-0, 6-1. The former World No. 1 saved all four break points against his 27-year-old compatriot.
Read More: Rafa Leads The Comeback Kings
Djokovic is again working with former coach Marian Vajda, who coached him from June 2006 to May 2017.
“He knows me better than any tennis coach I've worked with. He's a friend. He's someone I can share a lot of things with, whether it's professional or private life. He's always there for me. He knows me inside out. He knows what I need in order to get to the highest possible level of play. We could not ask for a better start,” Djokovic said.
Coric is coming off his best March yet. The 21-year-old made the semi-finals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (l. to Federer) and the quarter-finals at the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Zverev).
Read More: Djokovic: 'Inspired' & Ready In Monte-Carlo
Coric's elder countryman Cilic, the second seed, will wrap up play on Court Rainier III against Spain's Fernando Verdasco. The 29-year-old Croatian fell to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final but has yet to reach a quarter-final since January. Verdasco is one win away from becoming the sixth Spaniard in the Open Era to earn 500 career tour-level victories.
In other action, Kei Nishikori of Japan will meet Russian Daniil Medvedev. On Court Des Princes, three seeded players – Italian Fabio Fognini (13), Diego Schwartzman (10) and Milos Raonic (14) – will try to reach the third round in Monaco.
Watch: CIlic Describes Playing In Monte-Carlo