While Andy Murray celebrates his weekend marriage, the rest of the ATP elite are girding for battle on the clay, with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal leading the field as the Monte Carlo Masters begins on Sunday.
Murray, who moved back to third in the world after a Miami final last weekend against in-form number one Djokovic, will delay the start of his clay campaign as he misses the European opening.
Djokovic is riding a massive wave of form, with the Serb having already won the Australian Open and completing a historic third trophy double at Indian Wells and Miami.
With his newborn son now on the road with the family and his tennis firing perfectly, the 27-year-old is totally content.
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“It’s just the beginning, I don’t want to predict anything. I don’t want to put some additional unnecessary pressure on myself,” Djokovic said.
“There is already a lot of expectations of course. Everywhere I go I have to deal with it.
“I could not ask for a better start of the season winning three big titles. Hopefully I’m able to use this for the clay courts.
“That’s extremely important for me, obviously, leading up to French (the only Grand Slam he has never won). I feel good about myself right now on the court, and just going to take it slowly, one tournament at a time.”
Last year’s finalist Federer is back after skipping Miami as a strategic move and getting in a training block at home with Austrian Dominic Thiem.
Federer was beaten a year ago by compatriot Stan Wawrinka, who won the title but has failed to emerge as a consistent top five contender.
The Swiss takes the seventh seeding at the seaside Country Club.
A major question mark has to hang over eight-time winner Rafael Nadal, the third seed who has not lifted the title here since 2012.
Since winning his ninth Roland Garros ten months ago, the Spaniard’s only title was a small South American clay event in February.
Nadal, his battered body now a constant issue, is trying to bounce back after poor hard court showings in the US, exiting in the Indian Wells quarters and third round in Miami.
The 28-year-old has been back on the familiar clay at home in Mallorca and needs a deep run in the Principality to help cement his fragile confidence.
Canadian Milos Raonic takes the fourth seeding in a draw where the top eight seeds have first-round byes.
The big server is trailed by number five David Ferrer of Spain, Czech Tomas Berdych in sixth seeding, and with 2014 Grand Slam winners Wawrinka and Marin Cilic closing out the elite grouping.
Missing will be Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, whose right wrist surgery comeback in Miami lasted for only one match.
Japan’s fourth-ranked Kei Nishikori is also absent, while Frenchman Richard Gasquet is missing as he battles more back problems.
But the French will have Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Giles Simon in the mix.
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