Rafael Nadal will be aiming to replicate the success of last year’s Monte-Carlo Masters when he faces Aljaz Bedene in the second round of this year’s competition on Wednesday.
He may be facing a tough ask to maintain his title, though, having been out of action since the quarter-finals of the Australian Open back in January.
However, one factor that could make Nadal’s comeback slightly easier is a return to the clay surface because it’s safe to say, he has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to playing on that particular surface.
Along with possessing the name tag ‘king of clay’, the Spaniard has bagged an Open Era record of 53 clay titles.
One man who is no stranger to coming up against Nadal on the clay is Roger Federer, who has actually met his old foe 15 times on the surface.
Out of those 15 meetings, The Swiss has only beaten Nadal twice and has revealed why he feels his rival is so hard to beat on clay.
"Clearly Rafa has always had an advantage over me on a clay court and the record confirms that," Federer said, via Tennis 365.
"I tried many different things to change that head-to-head, changing a few things on my backhand, looking at different tactics, but he had the answers on clay."
He also admitted that Nadal’s movement is one of the key reasons the Spaniard is so strong and his experience of playing on clay so much growing up has enabled him to master the surface.
"We see our matches on other surfaces are quite close, but this is where he has been dominant and at this point in my career, I have to give myself the best chance of winning tournaments and that is why I missed the clay court season (in 2017 and now in 2018).
"His movement is so impressive on clay and his game fits the surface perfectly. I feel like I can play well on clay, but it is physically demanding and Rafa has mastered that surface better than anyone."
So while Federer puts his feet up until Wimbledon rolls back around, Nadal will be hoping for another fruitful start to the summer, starting in Monte Carlo.