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Sports

Murray and Djokovic return to action as Nadal seeks 10th Monte Carlo crown

media Rafael Nadal has won a record nine times at the Monte Carlo Masters. Reuters/Geoff Burke

The top two tennis players in the world, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, go into this week’s Monte Carlo Masters looking for their second title of the year. Murray won the Dubai championships in February while Djokovic’s success came in January at the Qatar Open.

By their lofty standards, both were eliminated early at the Australian Open and over the past month have been struggling with elbow injuries.

Djokovic, 29, returned last week to lead Serbia in their Davis Cup quarter-final win over Spain. Murray sat out the Davis Cup but tested his fitness with an exhibition match against Roger Federer in the Swiss city of Zurich on 10 April.

"I feel great," said Djokovic on Sunday. "It's nice to be in a place where I spend a lot of time training. It's home here. I spend a lot of time on these courts.

"It's normal for an athlete to go through injury problems. I trust myself and the effort I put into my game. I have to believe I'll get the results I'm hoping for," added Djokovic, a two-time winner of the event.

"All of my thoughts will be on this event. I won it in 2013 and 2015. I'm hoping this is the place to have a new start to the season."

Federer has been the star of the circuit in the first third of the season. The 35-year-old returned from a six month injury lay-off in January to win the Australian Open – his 18th Grand Slam tournament. He then claimed the ‘sunshine double’ of the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Masters.

However the Swiss, who beat Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open and Miami finals, will miss Monte Carlo to recover from his efforts.

Nadal, though, is taking part. The 30-year-old Spaniard, who is seeded fourth, is seeking a 10th title at the Country Club. "Monte Carlo is unique for me and I’m excited to be here,” said Nadal. "The season has started well for me. I'm happy with how I'm playing.”

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