A 10-time victor of this event, Nadal is simply gearing up for another run at his favorite grand slam, a tournament he'll be defending for the first time since 2014. Twelve months ago he went on to win a 10th Barcelona title and then completed La Decima at Roland Garros.
After being forced to retire from his last-eight clash with Marin Cilic in Melbourne, he briefly lost his top spot to Roger Federer.
Speaking to reporters this week, Nadal commented on Federer's decision to avoid the clay court for another year, suggesting the Swiss star was avoiding him.
'He says he will love to play against me again in best-of-five sets on clay, ' Nadal smiled. "It's obvious that sometimes when you play a rally with 56 shots as I did with Novak (Djokovic) a couple of years ago in the final (US Open 2013), you can not expect a good point if you have 25 seconds on the next point", said the 16-time Grand Slam champion. "Then a few days later he says he will not play in one event, so there's a little bit of controversy with that".
Roger Federer is now enjoying holidays.
Federer missed the whole season last year and was able to finish the year with two Grand Slam crowns and back at No. 2 in the world.
"For me it's not the ideal thing but if the sport is moving that way or they want to move that way, the only thing I can do is accept it and play", said the Spaniard ahead of his Monte Carlo Masters title defence. His display against world number four Alexander Zverev was particularly impressive, winning 6-1 6-4 6-4. "If I have to play tomorrow, I got to be ready tonight".
The shot clock works to enforce stronger rules on how much time the players on the court are allowed to take between serves after points, limiting it to just 25 seconds.
"I always enjoy this European season".
The Monte Carlo Masters is the first ATP Masters event on the calendar played on clay. "And I'm excited about that".
Kokkinakis received a wildcard into the Monte Carlo draw with his ranking still a low 148 following a long battle with injuries that halted his progress over the past three years.
Two-time former champion Djokovic didn't let national sentiment, or even friendship, get in the way of a 6-0, 6-1 victory over fellow Serbian Dusan Lajovic at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
"Seeded nine, Djokovic, who is struggling to pick up the pace after an elbow injury, could face Nadal in the semi-finals although just getting a win under his belt would be a relief for the 30-year-old who triumphed in Monte Carlo in 2013 and 2015".