Monte-Carlo Masters 2012: First Clay Event Features Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 28: Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during Day 10 of the Sony Ericcson Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 28, 2012 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Clay season opens with the Monte-Carlo Masters, featuring Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and plenty more top players.

It's back. The slipping. The sliding. The clear marks where the ball landed. The stained socks. The incredible stretches.

Oh, yes. It's time for the red clay season. And it all kicks off with the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, an ATP 1000 level tournament.

It's the first of three ATP World Tour 1000 Masters tournaments played on clay. But this wouldn't be clay season if we didn't talk about the clay king, Rafael Nadal.

The top Spaniard has won seven consecutive titles here. (Yes, he is the defending champion.) He boasts a 39-1 record. The last person to win consecutive titles in Monte Carlo was Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2002 and 2003.

In 2011, Nadal defeated David Ferrer, 6-4, 7-5, to raise his 19th set of hardware from a ATP World Tour Masters 1000.

Joining Nadal, who is the tournament's No. 1 seed, are world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, world No. 3 Roger Federer and the next top four players in the world, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych.

These players, minus Nadal, combine for 21 Grand Slam titles. None of them have raised the winner's trophy in Monte Carlo.

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