Karen Khachanov edges wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis in thrilling encounter — ATP Monte Carlo

Rafael Nadal

These two have played once, which was in the 2016 Monte Carlo Masters, a match Nadal won in straight sets. Those setbacks followed his crushing disappointment at the Australian Open.

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.

Nadal had expected to make his comeback in Acapulco, but the injury flared up again during a last practice session with French player Adrian Mannarino.

Even with contacting for a time out for his wrist, he played close to his own tennis. "Hope I get more confidence and do well [at] these five tournaments on clay". "You're in Acapulco, you fly all the way".

"I played only with the shot clock in IPTL and it was only 20 seconds".

So was the painstakingly boring recovery which followed.

"I still obviously wasn't ready game-wise, physically". "It was a boring time because I don't like to be doing nothing". "Of course it stays a little bit in your mind".

Djokovic has also had to contend with injury in recent months and is not being tipped to mount a serious challenge for Nadal's Monte Carlo Crown.

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Roger Federer decided earlier this year to skip the whole clay season as he looks to prolong his career.

He took a swipe, although an amiable one, at Federer.

He opens with a bye and then either Pablo Cuevas or Fernando Verdasco - both are inconsistent these days - before a potential round three with Milos Raonic, another player whose level is tough to judge on clay now. "For me mentally the second one was even harder than what happened in Australia, even if Australia was a Grand Slam and was an opportunity lost". The 21-year-old American got irate with a call when Ramos-Vinolas was serving at 3-2, 40-0 in the second set.

"He knows me better than any tennis coach I've worked with".

"It's been a love story between me and this event, the people who run the tournament", the King of Clay told atpworldtour.com.

Berdych, a Monaco resident, was runner-up to Djokovic in Monte Carlo in 2015. This month, he stopped working with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, the latest in a series of coaching changes for the 12-time major champion.

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. Nadal has played in the Monte Carlo Masters since 2003 and has won 94 percent of his matches.

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