World No. 1 Novak Djokovic opens his 2016 clay season Wednesday in Monte Carlo against Czech Jiri Vesely. The 28-year-old Djokovic has won the last four Masters 1000 events and this season is 28-1.
Djokovic also won Monte Carlo last year and in 2013, hasn’t played on the clay since his loss in the French Open final to Stan Wawrinka.
“Thankfully I haven’t lost too many matches in the past couple of years and I’ve been playing the best tennis of my life,” Djokovic said. “It came as a result of many years of dedication, evolution, growth, understanding myself as a person and a player and getting the most out of my team, who have developed a great strategy and routine to keep me going at this high level throughout the whole season. That’s what keeps me in top spot.
“If I don’t continue playing that consistently, I am aware of the fact that there are some other players that will definitely challenge that place.”
Among those challengers are Rafael Nadal. The 8-time Monte Carlo champion is also in action Wednesday against Brit Aljaz Bedene.
2014 champion Wawrinka opens against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber. The Swiss is 15-4 on the season with two titles, but enters off two straight losses in the U.S.
“Of course I am happy every year to return to clay. It’s a surface that I love. I’m happy with my progress in training so far,” Wawrinka said. “Monte Carlo is a very enjoyable tournament for us, the players. The setting is magnificent. The conditions are ideal. It’s a Masters 1000, so I have to be ready from the start and hope to have good results.”
Thomas Berdych, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Milos Raonic are also on court in second round play.
WEDNESDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
P. Kohlschreiber (GER) vs  S. Wawrinka (SUI)
 R. Nadal (ESP) vs A. Bedene (GBR)
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs J. Vesely (CZE)
P. Lorenzi (ITA) vs  G. Monfils (FRA)
COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 am
 T. Berdych (CZE) vs [Q] D. Dzumhur (BIH)
Not Before 1:00 pm
P. Cuevas (URU) vs  M. Raonic (CAN)
 R. Gasquet (FRA) vs [WC] L. Pouille (FRA)
A. Zverev (GER) vs [LL] M. Granollers (ESP)
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