Tennis, Monte Carlo Masters: Djokovic reaches second round

Rafael Nadal

Federer is not the only big name missing from the Monte Carlo draw, with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka also absent as they recover from injuries.

The 36-year-old Federer ruled himself out of the whole of the claycourt season, after skipping the same period last year and going on to win Wimbledon. I always enjoy this Europe season. Then the doctors told me: "'You will not be able to play in Indian Wells, Miami.' So that was hard to accept".

" He says he will love to play against me again in best-of-five sets on clay". Earlier 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 reality is I've played six or seven matches since July".

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.

An intriguing clash between two young rising stars in the blockbuster first-round encounter at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters saw Karen Khachanov putting in a terrific clay-court masterclass display to oust the resurgent and tricky talent in Thanasi Kokkinakis, triumphing 7-5, 6-4 after a marathon 110-minutes, which could be considered lengthy for a straight-sets encounter.

Yet another monstrous forehand aided him in saving a break point, although this time it just wasn't meant to be, with the world number 40 prevailing in a marathon game which lasted 14 points to lead by a set and a break. "I had some good days of practice here, playing some good sets", Nadal said. "So after two years, finally I can play without pain". "In my experience, on the tennis court, the crowd gets more insane, the crowd gets more emotional and enjoys the match with more passion when you play good points".

The most strenuous part about it all, Nadal argues, is the physical aspect of the shot clock, claiming that players will be much more tired during the points, taking away from their peak physical performance in front of a loud and eager crowd.

The shot clock was trialled during US Open qualifying previous year, and was also used at the 2017 NextGen Finals in Milan and the exhibition International Premier Tennis League. "Playing well below the desired level, it wasn't easy for me to cope".

"Some ball boys were ready for that, some were better, some were not".

A furious Jared Donaldson confronted umpire Arnaud Gabas in a heated exchange during his first-round defeat to Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.

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