• World rankings

Nadal eyes ninth Monte Carlo crown

ESPN staff
April 15, 2013
Rafael Nadal has not been beaten in Monte Carlo since 2003, when he was 16 © Getty Images

Rafael Nadal opens his preparations for the French Open with a bid for a record ninth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title this week.

The world No. 5 is seeded third in the principality, behind Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, but arrives as the man to beat having won 42 straight matches on the Monte Carlo Country Club clay.

The Spaniard has enjoyed a successful return to the sport following an eight-month injury layoff, winning three titles and 17 of his 18 matches.

But that success has been tempered by the need to rest his troublesome knees regularly, a problem that forced him to withdraw from the Miami Masters in March.

And as he prepares for a first grand slam since his return - the French Open, where he is the defending champion - Nadal will be forced to deal with an increasingly congested schedule, not least to ensure he defends his ranking points and puts himself in contention for a top-four seeding in Paris.

With Roger Federer not opening his clay court campaign until the Madrid Masters, Nadal has been drawn in the same half of the draw as No. 2 seed Murray - a potential semi-final opponent - and could face world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final.

Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro are both in the Serbian's half of the draw, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is in Nadal and Murray's half.

Men's rankings: 1. Novak Djokovic (SRB), 2. Andy Murray (GBR), 3. Roger Federer (SUI), 4. David Ferrer (ESP), 5. Rafael Nadal (ESP), 6. Tomas Berdych (CZE), 7. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG), 8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA), 9. Richard Gasquet (FRA), 10. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB).

Women's rankings: 1. Serena Williams (USA), 2. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 3. Victoria Azarenka (BLR), 4. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), 5. Li Na (CHN), 6. Angelique Kerber (GER), 7. Sara Errani (ITA), 8. Petra Kvitova (CZE), 9. Samantha Stosur (AUS), 10. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN).

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