Nadal has been troubled by a hip injury this season but, speaking at Indian Wells last month, Federer said he would "love to play Rafa on clay" again, having won just two of their 15 clashes on the surface. It should be a high quality encounter between two players who though not now at their best, have deservedly spent most of their careers in the top ten and have the ability to match.
"I always feel good when I am here", Nadal said. "I'm pleased about the easy win today, because a first match is always a special moment", he added.
"Back then, it was my first year on the tour, no one knew me, I was the new guy".
Djokovic has claimed the Monte Carlo Masters title twice (2015 and 2013), and Ćorić, against Benneteau, celebrated his first win at this tournament.
If Nadal is to extend his record tally of Monte Carlo crowns, he will have to do it the hard way after being handed a difficult draw.
Two-time champion Novak Djokovic reached the second round with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Dusan Lajovic on Monday. Herbert won the Monte Carlo doubles title with Nicolas Mahut in 2016. "I missed him. I have a feeling that he missed me or tennis or both". But due to a troublesome leg injury, he hasn't played since retiring from his quarterfinal with Marin Cilic at the Australian Open.
"Of course there are matches where I'm happy with it, there are matches where I'm missing it maybe too much or I'm not going for it".More news: Russian Federation asks Google and Apple to remove Telegram from stores: Ifax
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The 21-year-old was given a code violation following an outburst which lasted for nearly five minutes.
"For me it's not the ideal thing but if the sport is moving that way or they want to move that way, the only thing I can do is accept it and play", said the Spaniard ahead of his Monte Carlo Masters title defence.
"I thought it was good considering the amount of matches I've played in the past nearly 12 months".
A 25-second shot clock is set to be used at the US Open later this year, in order to stronger enforce rules on how long a player can take between points on serve.
Rafa is indeed the favourite to be celebrating on Sunday, with the Exchange market pricing him at a current [1.64] for glory, and he's one of eight players receiving first-round byes and likely to begin their campaign either on Tuesday, or more probably, Wednesday.
A furious Jared Donaldson confronted umpire Arnaud Gabas in a heated exchange during his first-round defeat to Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday. Earlier this month, he stopped working with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek - the latest in a series of coaching changes for the 12-time major champion.