Nadal out to regain Monte Carlo stronghold

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Novak Djokovic is aiming to win a fourth consecutive Masters title when the Monte Carlo Masters begins on Sunday, while 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal looks to get back into form.

Djokovic dominated the US swing with titles in Indian Wells and Miami having also won in Paris at the back end of 2014, but the world number one turns his attention to the clay season - in which he has the notable absence of a French Open trophy to fulfil.

A two-time Roland Garros finalist, Djokovic does have one notable result on the surface to his name - his 2013 Monte Carlo title win ended Nadal's 46-match winning streak in Monaco.

And the Serbian seems to have derailed his great rival at the ATP 1000 tournament, as Nadal fell to David Ferrer in the quarter-finals in 2014 - and enters the 2015 edition in poor form.

Nadal coasted into the Indian Wells quarter-finals but was upended by Milos Raonic, before he bowed out in the round-of-32 to Fernando Verdasco in Miami.

After the loss to Verdasco, Nadal claimed nerves were getting to him in big moments - something the world number five hopes to cure in time for his bid to win a 10th French Open, starting in May.

But a solid start to the clay-court season would be enough to buoy eight-time Monte Carlo champion Nadal on his favourite surface.

While Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych, Raonic and Ferrer are among the Monte Carlo definite starters, world number three Andy Murray is not - the Brit getting married in his home town of Dunblane on Saturday.

Joining Murray in skipping Monte Carlo is world number four Kei Nishikori.

Federer is a four-time runner-up in Monte Carlo, losing thrice to Nadal from 2006-08 before succumbing to Stan Wawrinka in the final last year.

Defending champion Wawrinka will look to open his clay campaign in style and defend the only Masters tournament he has won.

Wawrinka will embark on his third title defence of the season - successfully holding aloft the Chennai Open yet again in January, before falling short in defence of his Australian Open crown.

US Open champion Marin Cilic is set to appear for just the second time this season, after he opened his 2015 with a first-up loss at Indian Wells.