Rafael Nadal targets 11th Monte Carlo Masters title as he begins his defence on Wednesday

Rafael Nadal talks about his love affair with the Monte Carlo Masters

Rafael Nadal says he is fit and ready to continue his love affair with the Monte Carlo Masters as he returns to the ATP Tour after injury.

The Spaniard is bidding for an incredible 11th title in the Principality and his third in a row, but anything less than that would see him lose his world No 1 ranking to the absent Roger Federer.

Nadal has not played on the circuit since January’s Australian Open when he was forced to retire with a hip injury from his quarter-final clash with Marin Cilic.

He looked in immaculate condition with two outstanding wins in Spain’s Davis Cup quarter-final victory over Germany last weekend and the 31-year-old is now ready to extend his record tally of Monte Carlo crowns.

“I feel that I’m playing well. I had some good days of practice here, playing some good sets,” Nadal said ahead of the start of the clay-court season. “That helps me. I love this event. I always feel comfortable here.

“I’m enjoying being here in Monte Carlo in an event that always brings me to the best feelings possible. I come here every year with the same passion, the same motivation to play my best and to give me chances to get the best results possible.

“It’s hopefully going to be my first event of the year that I can finish. And I’m excited about that.”

Nadal has been handed a difficult draw with a possible string of physically demanding clay-court matches ahead of him, and the Spaniard admits another injury setback is always a possibility.

“Well it happened twice so you never know,” he said. “Being honest, I am not practising thinking about if that comes back or not.

“I had injuries in my life, as you know, more than what I expected, but the good thing is that when I came back I was not afraid about what was going on.”

Live ATP Masters Tennis

April 18, 2018, 10:00am

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Wednesday’s Order of Play [starts at 10am on Sky Sports Arena]

Court Rainier III
Daniil Medvedev v Kei Nishikori
(9) Novak Djokovic v Borna Coric
(1) Rafael Nadal v Aljaz Bedene
Fernando Verdasco v (2) Marin Cilic

Court Des Princes
Karen Khachanov v (WC) Gilles Simon
(13) Fabio Fognini v Jan-Lennard Struff
Richard Gasquet v (10) Diego Schwartzman
(14) Milos Raonic v (Q) Marco Cecchinato

Court 2
(11) Roberto Bautista Agut v Feliciano Lopez
Philipp Kohlschreiber v (15) Albert Ramos-Vinolas
(LL) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez v (Q) Andreas Seppi

Coverage of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters gets under way from 10am on Sky Sports Arena every day this week.

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