- ATP Tour
Nadal: Knee talk has to stop
Rafael Nadal insists that he does not consider himself the favourite to win a ninth Monte Carlo Masters title, but believes constant updates on his knees are becoming a distraction.
The former world No. 1, who has lost just one match at the Monte Carlo Country Club in his career, has been forced to ease himself back into action on the ATP Tour following a seven-month lay-off after his Wimbledon exit in 2012 to recover from tendititis in his left knee.
Three tournament victories plus 17 wins in 18 matches since his return have proven his ability to play at the highest level once more, but the Spaniard's withdrawal from the Sony Open following his Indian Wells triumph sparked fresh fears that his body is not up to the rigours of a full tournament schedule.
But Nadal is keen to put talk of his injury concerns behind him and focus on his bid for an ATP record ninth consecutive Monte Carlo crown.
"After seven months without playing or practising I have to take care of my body," Nadal said. "But talking about my knee every day is not helping me.
"If something is going very wrong that doesn't give me the chance to compete I will let you know," added the Spaniard, who will face Australia's Marinko Matosevic in his opening match.
"Today I'm here to try my best and I want to be focused on the tennis, not on my knee anymore, because in the end if the knee is 50, 90, 80, 100%, it isn't going to change the situation."
Nadal has lost just once in Monte Carlo, as a 16-year-old in 2003. Since then he has landed the title for eight straight years, an ATP record for a single tournament.
Yet despite his 42-match winning streak at the event, Nadal insists that he does not consider himself the favourite.
"I cannot say I'm the biggest favourite to win here again," Nadal said. "This is not an easy event to win. I don't want to lose perspective, but I don't want to lose either.
"Everything in life finishes sometime. Someday the winning will stop, not everything is forever.
"I cannot say I'm not 100% when I won three of the four tournaments that I played since my return. The other players would say that I am an arrogant. But you cannot be 100% after stopping for seven months."