Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal keen to defend his title at the Monte Carlo Masters and make it ten wins in the Principality Getty

Rafael Nadal is getting ready for the clay court swing of the 2017 season as it gets underway in Monte Carlo on Monday (17 April). Clay court is the Spaniard's preferred surface.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion will be favourite to win his first title of the season during the upcoming clay court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome, before it culminates with the French Open (22 may – 11 June).

Nadal is looking to win the tournament at the Principality for the tenth time and it was one of two titles he won in 2016, the other being the Barcelona Open. He is keen on defending his title, but admits that it is only possible if he continues his good form he has shown since the start of the year.

The Spaniard has already made three finals this year, but is yet to win a title having lost twice to Roger Federer and once to Sam Querrey. However, his good form has seen him being made the favourite to win his 15th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. Nadal is not taking his chances for granted and believes only if he continues playing well will he have the chance to fight for the French Open title, he last won in 2014.

"When you come back in a tournament where you have been so successful, memories are always special," Nadal was quoted as saying by tennisworldusa.org. "I would like to win in Monte Carlo, and if I will be doing well, I will have my chances."

"If I play well I will have chances to fight to win, otherwise I won't. It's simple, it's not about dreaming to win or not," the Spaniard added about his chances of capturing a 10th French Open title.

Nadal is currently ranked number five in the world and admits it is difficult to return to the top-four in the world rankings. He is 570 points behind Federer and 1050-points behind number three ranked Stan Wawrinka.

The Swiss ace is not playing the upcoming clay court tournaments, and will drop points, but Nadal is defending 1500-points in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, which will make it difficult for the Spaniard to make up ground. But he believes a good run until the end of the French Open could take him back above his long-time rival and into the top-four.

"But if I have a good season on clay it's possible. So far for me 2017 season went well. I am happy, I've been consistent and I've had only a few bad matches," Nadal added.