(AFP) – Rafael Nadal said on Sunday that he is fit and ready to defend his Monte Carlo Masters title and the number-one ranking this week, as he returns to the ATP Tour after injury.
“I feel that I’m playing well. I had some good days of practice here, playing some good sets,” Rafa said ahead of the start of the claycourt 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.
“It’s hopefully going to be my first event of the year that I can finish. And I’m excited about that.”
The 16-time Grand Slam champion is bidding for an incredible 11th title in Monaco and his third in a row, but knows that anything less than that would see him lose the number-one spot to the absent Federer.
Rafa had been due to return at Acapulco in February, but was forced to withdraw before his opening match and admitted that it was tough to miss the American hardcourt season.
“I knew when I was going to be ready. The problem is that it takes time.
“Australia was a tough moment, of course, being in that quarter-final, winning the match and having that problem, having a good chance.
“But I took the right time to have the right rest. I did all the things that the doctors told me. Then I felt great practising in Acapulco, playing very well, but then just the day before… I felt it again. So that’s the real thing.
“For me mentally the second one was even harder than what happened in Australia, even if Australia was a Grand Slam and was an opportunity lost.
“The second one was frustrating because I did all the things the right way.”
Ahead of a possible string of physically demanding claycourt matches, Nadal admitted 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.”