Yet only a year before he retired hurt with knee problems against Britain’s Andy Murray, again in Melbourne, and then went on to win three Grand Slams, three Masters 1000 tournaments and regained his World No 1 ranking.
One of those ATP World Tour Masters 1000s was the Monte-Carlo which joined this nine-tournament circuit in 2009. At stake are 1000 points for the winner and prize money totaling 2,227,500 euros.
At a press conference in the Monte Carlo Country Club which hosts the event, tournament director Zeljko Franulovic said they were counting on the world's top ten signing up and that Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer and French favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were already on the list. The closing date for registrations is 14th of March 2011 when the names of the 45 players accepted will be published; to this list will be added seven players who make it through a series of qualifying matches between 28 players on the first weekend, plus four wild cards (last year a very lack lustre Andy Murray came in at the last minute and was out in straight sets).
From Sunday the 12th when the tournament proper begins, 56 players will be battling it out in the singles to win the Coupe-Challenge offered by the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, while 24 doubles teams will be vying for the City of Monaco’s Trophy.
New for 2011 is an exhibition match on the Sunday between the current number one woman, the Dane Caroline Wozniacki and the Italian Francesca Schiavone, winner of the Paris Roland Garros Grand Slam in 2010.
Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th: qualifying rounds plus start of the men’s singles and doubles matches on Sunday starting at 11am – on week days play starts at 10.30am.
Saturday 9th: launch party at Zelo’s attended by the players and organised by Mélanie-Antoinette de Massy.
Sunday 10th: children’s day, an opportunity to get autographs and play tennis with the stars.
Monday 11th: Ladies Day on the Monday starting at 2pm – exhibition match between current number one, the Dane Caroline Wozniacki and the Italian Francesca Schiavone, winner of Roland Garros in 2010.
Thursday 14th: Flamenco Fusions party
Saturday 16th: semi-finals singles and doubles matches starting at 11am
Sunday 17th: finals singles and doubles matches starting around 2.30pm. CL