Djokovic: Nadal will rise to the occasion on clay courts

Djokovic: Nadal will rise to the occasion on clay courts
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Published April 12th, 2015 - 16:29 GMT via

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Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Top seed Novak Djokovic has few doubts that whatever his physical, mental and motivational worries, Rafael Nadal will rise to the occasion on clay as the Monte Carlo Masters began on Sunday.

With a limited day's programme of just three first-round singles matches, talk turned to the Spanish king of clay, whose past year has been littered with injuries and modest performances.

Though the third seed has only won a Buenos Aires title since his eighth French Open crown last June, world number one Djokovic believes the Nadal may have a few surprises ready as his favourite part of the season begins.

"When the clay season comes around. Nadal is the first player mentioned as a favourite in any event he plays," said the Serb who beat Nadal in the 2013 Monte Carlo final after two earlier defeats in the decider there against him.

"He is the king of clay and he deserves that crown because of his results on this surface.

"Nadal is the ultimate challenge on clay. Even if he has struggled with injuries, confidence and a lack of matches and not won a big event since Roland Garros last year, this is his surface.

"This is the period where he is looking to have his greatest success. I would not worry too much, we cannot doubt him on clay.

"Even with the ups and downs we all go through as professionals, he has won so much in his life, he has the talent and the strength to play at the top of the game.

"Don't worry about a low period. As he has proven so many times, he gets stronger when he comes from being down."

Djokovic is holding his own as he gets off to one of the season starts of his life, with three major titles collected in the first quarter of 2015.

Though the matches are piling up in his legs, the world number one is ready to play on and count on his fitness to see him through the most gruelling part of the ATP year.

"It's not the first time that I've played so many matches, but that's a positive consequences due to my great results. I can't complain, I'm enjoying my time on court."

"I'm not thinking about being tired, I'm just relying on the fitness training I did in the off-season and all the work to get myself into a state of mind where I can sustain high levels of tennis throughout most of year."

Djokovic will begin in the second round after a bye facing either a qualifier of Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

Second seed Federer, losing finalist last year to fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, plays a qualifier or France's Jeremy Chardy.

Federer, who has finished three times a Monte Carlo runner-up, has been onsite since Thursday, and has had several hitting sessions on the Centre Court clay.

The 33-year-old played the Indian Wells final last month against Djokovic and then skipped Miami - also won by the Serb - to take a holiday and train last week with Austrian Dominic Thiem.

The 17-time grand slam winner believes his strategy mix will play off on the clay.

"I'm feeling good about my game and my fitness, I think I did all the right things to prepare for the clay season," Federer said.

"We are onto clay for the first time in seven months after hardcourt. We'll see, but so far, so good," he said.

© 2015 dpa GmbH

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