World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is returning to the tour this week, but he won’t have to travel very far to make his comeback—he’s playing in Monte Carlo, where he resides.

And he’s had plenty of success at the Masters 1000 event in the past, sliding to the clay-court title twice in 2013 and 2015. He’s also reached two more finals in 2009 and 2012, three more semifinals in 2008, 2010 and 2014, and two more quarterfinals in 2017 and 2019—he’s actually reached the quarterfinals or better in nine of his 14 career appearances and compiled a stellar 35-12 career record at the event.

And at an event that’s been almost completely dominated by one name—Rafael Nadal—for the better part of the last two decades, Djokovic has also been the only player who’s been able to consistently challenge the Spaniard:

He ended Nadal’s 46-match winning streak in Monte Carlo in the 2013 final. The Spaniard had won the tournament eight years in a row from 2005 to 2012 and made it through to a ninth straight final in 2013 before falling to Djokovic, 6-2, 7-6 (1).

He beat Nadal again in Monte Carlo in the 2015 semifinals, making him (still) the only player to beat Nadal twice in Monte Carlo. Nadal is a ridiculous 73-6 at the event, with Djokovic accounting for two of those losses—the other four came to Guillermo Coria (2003), David Ferrer (2014), Fabio Fognini (2019) and Andrey Rublev (2021).

He’s actually an even 2-2 against Nadal in Monte Carlo. Nadal’s two wins came in the 2009 and 2012 finals (so Djokovic has actually won their last two meetings there).

Djokovic isn't just the only player ever to beat Nadal twice in Monte Carlo, he's also the only player ever to do it twice at Roland Garros.

Djokovic isn't just the only player ever to beat Nadal twice in Monte Carlo, he's also the only player ever to do it twice at Roland Garros.


This year, Djokovic could become just the third man to win Monte Carlo three or more times since the Masters 1000 series of events began in 1990. As of now, the only two men to do that are Nadal (2005-2012, 2016-18) and Thomas Muster (1992, 1995-1996).

Of course, Djokovic is only playing his second event of the year—he reached the quarterfinals of Dubai in February—so he comes in somewhat short on match play.

But the Serb has always risen to the occasion at the biggest events in the world, and Masters 1000 events have been no exception—he’s won 37 titles at this level, the most in history, and not only is he the only player ever to have won all nine Masters 1000 events on the calendar, he’s actually won them all at least twice each.

Monte Carlo was actually one of the last two missing in Djokovic’s collection.

1st: Miami (2007)
2nd: Canada (2007)
3rd: Indian Wells (2008)
4th: Rome (2008)
5th: Paris (2009)
6th: Madrid (2011)
7th: Shanghai (2012)
8th: Monte Carlo (2013)
9th: Cincinnati (2018)

After a first-round bye, the No. 1-ranked Serb will kick off his week against either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Marcos Giron in the second round. He’s 2-0 against the Spaniard and has never faced the American.