Two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal was shown no favor at Saturday’s main draw ceremony at the Masters Series Monte-Carlo presented by Rolex. The World No. 2 Spaniard could play his first match against in-form Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela (who is off to a flying 20-6 start on the year.
Beyond that, in the third round Nadal could face one of a quartet of threats – former World No. 1 Marat Safin, No. 16 seed Jarkko Nieminen, French wild card Paul-Henri Mathieu and Belgian Kristof Vliegen.
Nadal begins his quest for a third consecutive Monte-Carlo title riding a 62-match win streak on clay. This is his first clay-court event of the year. So far in 2007 he has played exclusively on hard court, building a solid 17-5 record, which includes his seventh ATP Masters Series title at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells.
Top seed Roger Federer, who lost to Nadal in four sets in last year’s final, will play his first match against a qualifier. He would expect to face either former Roland Garros champion Carlos Moya or 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny in the third round, with a possible fourth-round showdown with newly-crowned Sony Ericsson Open champion Novak Djokovic.
No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko is seeded to meet No. 14 Marcos Baghdatis in the third round. No. 4 and Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez is seeded to play former Roland Garros champion and two-time Monte-Carlo champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Seventh seed and Monte Carlo resident Ivan Ljubicic faces a challenging opening match against the winner of Gael Monfils and Radek Stepanek, and could meet 11th seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round.
Those present at Saturday’s main draw ceremony in the VIP Village included players Marcos Baghdatis, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Novak Djokovic and Argentine legend and two-time Monte-Carlo champion Guillermo Vilas.