Rafael Nadal. Picture: REUTERS
Rafael Nadal. Picture: REUTERS

Monaco — Rafael Nadal offered a low-key appraisal on Monday of his chances for a record-extending 12th Monte Carlo Masters title as he prepares to return from his latest injury lay-off.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, whose bad knees and frequent stoppages from competition have defined his career as king of clay, was hesitant to even rate his chances as he gets set to face Roberto Bautista Agut in Wednesday’s second-round start.

"I can’t give you any feeling, it’s been a rough year and a
half for me," Nadal said ahead
of his first match since withdrawing hurt prior to an Indian Wells semifinal against Roger Federer in March. "It’s tough for me to get a clear view of how I am," he said.

Nadal has a vast number of ranking points to defend on clay after lifting titles in a spectacular 2018 run at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros. His only other trophy during a season in which he did not play at all after the US Open came on hardcourt in Toronto, where he beat young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Nadal is seeded second in Monte Carlo behind Novak Djokovic AFP