Djokovic steals Nadal’s Monte Carlo crown

Rafael Nadal will quickly bury his sorrows after the end of his eight-year title streak in Monte Carlo, with the Spaniard quickly turning his focus to the Barcelona Open starting on Monday.

Djokovic steals Nadal's Monte Carlo crown
Rafa Nadal missed out on the chance to become the only player in history to win Monte Carlo nine times in a row after losing 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) to Novak Djokovic on Sunday. Photo: Valery Hache

Nadal went down to defeat in Sunday's Monte Carlo final to Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) but is not mourning the end of a 46-match winning run at the prestige venue.

"With not much preparation, I was able to play in the finals, a few matches," said the knee injury victim who missed seven months but who has since played in five straight finals and won three trophies.

"This week is going to help me be fit for the next weeks."

Nadal is the king of the home clay in Catalonia.

The 26-year-old has won seven of the past eight editions at the venerable Real Club de Tenis. His only miss came in 2010, when he did not play, compatriot Fernando Verdasco keeping the trophy firmly in Iberian hands.

Nadal began his clay season last week and showed his usual superb form on his surface of choice – just not enough to get past an inspired Djokovic – though Nadal can see improvement.

"I feel for moments in the second set I played my best tennis of the week. So that's an important thing."

But there is a shift in the ground at this edition, with the fifth-ranked Nadal seeded second behind countryman David Ferrer, who takes the top spot in the draw.

Ferrer is playing after missing the Monte Carlo Masters with a thigh injury which bothered him in his losing Miami final to Andy Murray last month.

The hard-working Ferrer has a grudge to settle with his celebrated Davis Cup teammate, who has beaten him in four of the last five Barcelona finals, including the last two.

All 16 seeds get byes into the second round, which will leaving opening play to outsiders including Australian Bernard Tomic, Czech veteran Radek Stepanek and Spain's Tommy Robredo, who got his career back on track with the Casablanca title this month. 

Czech Tomas Berdych takes the third seeding at the event he last played in 2009, while Spain's Nicolas Almagro is seeded fourth ahead of Canadian Milos Raonic.

Japan's sixth seed Kei Nishikori, a quarter-finalist last year, makes his season clay start, with Argentine Juan Monaco seeded seventh and German Philipp Kohlschreiber eighth.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘I was down mentally and physically’ admits Rafa Nadal on winning 12th Roland Garros title

Rafael Nadal admitted that his record 12th Roland Garros title was one of his most special after an injury-hit start to 2019 had left him "down mentally and physically" and questioning his love for the sport.

'I was down mentally and physically' admits Rafa Nadal on winning 12th Roland Garros title
Nadal celebrates after winning his 12th title in Paris. Photo: AFP

The 33-year-old swept to an 18th Grand Slam crown with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Austria's Dominic Thiem in a repeat of the 2018 final.

Nadal is now just two behind Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 majors and three ahead of Novak Djokovic who was knocked out by Thiem in the semi-finals.

However, Nadal said that his troubled season leading up to the French Open had left him facing new fears about his ability to defend his title in Paris.

“I was not enjoying it too much, I was worried about my health. I was down mentally and physically after Indian Wells,” said Nadal.

“I was too negative. After Madrid and Barcelona, I was thinking about what I needed to do. I could stop for a while and recover or change my attitude and recover.”

An emotional Nadal collects his prize. Photo: AFP

After a loss in the Australian Open final to Djokovic where he won just eight games, a second round exit in Acapulco was followed by a withdrawal from the semi-finals in Indian Wells, when a knee injury meant that an eagerly-awaited clash with Federer was shelved.

His return in the clay court season saw semi-finals losses in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before a much needed title triumph in Rome.

“This is a very satisfying victory. In 2018, I only played nine events and finished just seven of them,” he added.

“I had issues with my knee and surgery on my foot, so many issues in the last 18 months that have made the last few weeks very special.”

Nadal revealed that in Barcelona, he had locked himself away where he ended up questioning where his season was heading.

“Mentally, I lost a little bit of that energy, because I had too many issues in a row. It is tough when you receive one after another, and then sometimes you are groggy,” he explained.

“In Barcelona, I was able to stay alone for a couple of hours in the room and think about what's going on, what I need to do.

“One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body. And the other was change drastically my attitude and my mentality to play the next couple of weeks.

“Thinking a lot, finally I think I was able to change and was able to fight back for every small improvement that I was able to make that happen.”


World number two Nadal took his Paris record to an astonishing 93 wins and just two losses having previously won the title in 2005-2008, 2010-2014, 2017 and 2018.

It also gave him an 82nd career title and 950th match win.

“All the things that I went through probably give me that extra passion when I am playing, because I know I will not be here forever.

“So I just try to be positive, to be intense, and to be passionate about what I am doing.”

Nike produced a compliation video of Nadal, beginning when he was just 16 years-old.