Alexander Zverev: 'Federer, Djokovic, Nadal are contenders for every event'

Roger Federer on clay

Roger Federer will play on clay this spring after a two-year absence Credit AFP

Next month, Djokovic will go into the French Open with the chance to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time in his career, having done it in 2016 when he won Roland Garros for the first time.

While Roger Federer is not playing the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, he is set to compete on clay for the first time since 2016.

For top seed Novak Djokovic, who resides in Monte-Carlo, it just feels like playing the competition at home. Zverev's older brother Mischa served as the host, interviewing players on site about their experience.

Djokovic and 11-time victor Rafael Nadal, along with Roland Garros runner-up Dominic Thiem, stand as favourites on paper for the first major title of the French Open preliminary events. "It (winning Roland Garros) might be tougher for him than winning the Australian Open or Wimbledon, but I'm sure he can do anything if he tries 100 per cent", said Nishikori.

"All of our games will be tested big-time - but that's why we're here", Djokovic said of the slow Monte Carlo clay, which might be made even heavier by wet weather predicted for later in the week.

With Nadal out of action between last year's US Open and this year's Australian Open with knee trouble, an abdominal injury and then an ankle issue that required surgery, the stop-start nature of his past 18 months has left some wondering if this year's clay-court season could be more open than usual.

"And, finally, to win a Grand Slam again, especially in Augusta, probably his favorite one, means everything for him".

For Djokovic's part, the two-time Monte-Carlo champion is trying to bounce back after disappointing third round and fourth round exits in Indian Wells and Miami, respectively. "He's got a better title chance at tournaments other than Roland Garros, but he has won it in the past (2009)". "Indian Wells, Miami have been kind of so and so, in terms of how I played and the results".

Nadal - himself a 17-time grand slam champion - knows a thing or two about returning from injury to prosper on the world stage, and the Spaniard paid tribute to Woods as he prepares to begin his campaign for a 12th Monte Carlo Masters crown. He hasn't played it obviously last year or last few years, but, you know, it's hard to speak about Roger's level because it's always there. Rafa is always the clear favourite on any any court in the world. "He's the number one guy on this surface without a doubt".

Djokovic owns a 32-10 record in Monte-Carlo, so it's not been his very best tournament over the years. But he says Rafa is the man to beat. I had a great last six months of the season, the 31-year-old Serb said.

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