Nadal Looks to Defend Championship at Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters

A loaded field of the top men’s tennis players in the world will compete in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters starting this Sunday at the Monte Carlo Country Club just outside of Monaco. Fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain won the singles event last year for the ninth time, and the only players ranked in the Top 10 who will not be participating are fourth-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland and seventh-ranked Kei Nishikori of Japan. Nadal was seeded fifth in the tournament last year, when he upset fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals and second-seeded Andy Murray in the semifinals before topping 13th-seeded Gael Monfils 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 in the final. The 30-year-old Nadal has long been known for his dominance on red clay, and he turned back the clock a few months ago when he took Federer the distance in the Australian Open final. This year, Great Britain’s Murray is the top seed over second-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Switzerland’s Wawrinka, who is third. Federer won the Australian Open back in January but chose not to compete while Murray is coming off a victory at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in early March for his first singles title of 2017. Before Nadal won his most recent Rolex Masters championship, Djokovic had won two of the previous three years with Wawrinka taking home the title in 2014. The 28-year-old Djokovic was the top seed in the tourney a year ago, but he has switched spots with the 28-year-old Murray based on the current ATP rankings that have him second there as well. Djokovic has not won a singles title this year since beating the top-seeded Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 as the second seed in the ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open final in January. The 32-year-old Wawrinka was one of three Top 4 seeds to lose in the quarters of the 2016 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, as he fell to Nadal in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka has won four singles titles each of the past two years, but he is still looking for his first of 2017 and will be happy Federer is not here, losing to him twice already, including the Australian Open semis and the ATP & WTA BNP Paribas Open final in March.

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