Rafa, Novak Return To Action
No one has won more ATP Masters 1000 titles at a single event then Rafael Nadal at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, and the third seed will hit the court to begin his quest for a record-extending 12th trophy on Wednesday.
The former World No. 1 will take on Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis in the third match on Court Rainier III, a stadium that has seen Nadal take a bite out of 11 trophies and rack up a 71-5 record in the Principality. He will bring a 4-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his second-round clash with Delbonis.
Nadal will be competing for the first time since Melbourne, where he was plagued with a back injury during the ATP Cup and on his way to the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. Tsitsipas).
“I [took] a while after Australia. [It’s] going to be my second tournament [of the year],” Nadal said in a pre-tournament press conference. “[We] arrive at an important part of the season for me. I think I did the right work to be ready.”
“It’s true that I didn’t play much,” he added. “At the same time, [it] is true that I had good success in the past without playing [many] matches. My mindset is the same as always.”
Two-time former champion and Monte-Carlo resident Novak Djokovic will take on #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner for the first time in tour-level competition in one of the most anticipated second-round battles of the day.
The World No. 1 is contesting his first event since claiming a record-extending ninth Australian Open title. He’ll have to hit the ground running against the red-hot 19-year-old, who arrived in Monte-Carlo after reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Miami.
“He’s [a] very, very nice person. He’s working really hard. He’s devoted. He’s got all the goods that he needs in order to become a champion,” Djokovic said of Sinner in a pre-event press conference. “He’s in a right way and he’s surrounded [by] very good people… [His coach] Riccardo [Piatti] was my coach the first years of my professional career. He’s in good hands.”
“We [have] never faced each other in an official match, so it would be definitely great to play him on clay, and let’s see what happens,” he added.
The pair have shared the court only once before, with Djokovic winning the second set in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Sinner at an exhibition event in Adelaide at the start of the season. (Filip Krajinovic won the first set.)
Fifth seed Alexander Zverev and sixth seed Andrey Rublev will also be making their start at the year’s first clay-court Masters 1000 event, and they’re both set to face Italian opposition in the second round. Acapulco champion Zverev will take on Lorenzo Sonego, while Rublev begins his Monte-Carlo campaign against qualifier Salvatore Caruso.
Elsewhere, seventh seed Diego Schwartzman and defending champion Fabio Fognini will be holding court at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. The pair are contesting back-to-back singles matches on Court des Princes, with 15th seed Fognini taking on Jordan Thompson and the Argentine facing off against Casper Ruud. Later in the day, Schwartzman and Fognini will reunite for doubles as they face sixth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot in the second round.
SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2021
COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
 A. Rublev (RUS) vs [Q] S. Caruso (ITA)
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs J. Sinner (ITA)
[Q] F. Delbonis (ARG) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
L. Sonego (ITA) vs  A. Zverev (GER)
COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 am
 F. Fognini (ITA) vs J. Thompson (AUS)
 D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs C. Ruud (NOR)
D. Evans (GBR) vs  H. Hurkacz (POL)
After Suitable Rest – F. Fognini (ITA) / D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs  W. Koolhof (NED) / L. Kubot (POL)
COURT 2 start 11:00 am
 G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs J. Chardy (FRA)
 D. Goffin (BEL) vs [Q] M. Cecchinato (ITA)
T. Paul (USA) vs  R. Bautista Agut (ESP)
After Suitable Rest – K. Khachanov (RUS) / A. Rublev (RUS) vs  M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG)
COURT 9 start 11:00 am
J. Millman (AUS) vs  C. Garin (CHI)
[Q] A. Popyrin (AUS) vs [WC] L. Pouille (FRA)
K. Khachanov (RUS) vs  P. Carreno Busta (ESP)
 P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs H. Kontinen (FIN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
COURT 11 start 1:00 pm
Second Round – F. Krajinovic (SRB) vs [LL] J. Londero (ARG)
Not Before 2:00 pm
Second Round –  K. Krawietz (GER) / H. Tecau (ROU) or [WC] P. Tsitsipas (GRE) / S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs C. Garin (CHI) / G. Pella (ARG)
First Round – [Alt] A. Behar (URU) / G. Escobar (ECU) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL) / D. Goffin (BEL)
Second Round – R. Klaasen (RSA) / B. McLachlan (JPN) vs  R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR)