Djokovic, Alcaraz lament Monte Carlo absence of Nadal

MONTE CARLO: Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz said they will be feeling the absence of rival and clay king Rafael Nadal when the Monte Carlo Masters begins today.

The 37-year-old Spaniard was forced to withdraw from the traditional start of the European clay season as his long injury drama continues.

Nadal owns a record 11 trophies in the principality, with a 73-6 tournament record, including a 46-match winning streak from 2005 to 2013. He has competed in the main draw 17 times.

"It has always been important for our sport to have him on the court," two-time Monte Carlo winner and world No. 1 Djokovic said on Saturday.

"This year could have been his last chance, his last Roland Garros, his last season.

"It's been bad to see him have to forfeit all the tournaments (save Brisbane in the first week of January) from the start of the year."

Spanish 20-year-old Alcaraz, now ranked third after being displaced by Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner, was equally disappointed not to have a chance to face his longtime idol.

"If he's not here it doesn't change a lot for me," Alcaraz said. "I'm not used to seeing him around much.

"We have not played (in the same) tournaments (at the same time). I've only played a few where he is around.

"As a fan of tennis, it's a shame that he is not here playing in this event."

The youngster still dreams of teaming with Nadal at the Paris Olympics.

"I still hope to play with him, the Olympics are four months from now and everything can change.

"Nadal would be great for me." --AFP

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