Nadal returns to clay court for French Open

LONDON – Rafael Nadal’s buildup to what he hopes will be another French Open triumph begins in earnest this week when the Spaniard returns to one of his favourite old haunts, Monte Carlo.

The Mallorcan world number one has been off the Tour since injuring himself at the Australian Open but looks to have recovered just in time for the European claycourt swing he has dominated throughout his career.

Nowhere more so than Monte Carlo where last year he became the first player to win the same ATP tournament 10 times.

Twelve months ago he went on to win a 10th Barcelona title and then completed La Decima at Roland Garros.

The 31-year-old world number one begins his clay court title-hunting season with few matches in the legs this year though, having taken an extended rest after suffering a hip injury in Melbourne against Croatia’s Marin Cilic who will be seeded two at the Monte Carlo Country Club overlooking the ocean.

Any doubts about Nadal’s physical condition were cast aside, however, when he won both his matches for Spain in last weekend’s Davis Cup quarter-final against Germany.