Should he win one of this year's three clay-court Masters 1000 events, where Nadal will also be present, the psychological boost could be crucial for Djokovic. Certainly I was disappointed because I thought I was playing better and better and I thought I could go far. "It's tough to have a clear view about how I am", said the second-seeded Spaniard.
"It's true that there are a lot of issues that happened in the a year ago and a half that could be a moment to be a little bit frustrated, but being honest, every time I've had the chance to be back, I competed", Nadal said.
With Nadal out of action between last year's US Open and this year's Australian Open with knee trouble, an abdominal injury and then an ankle issue that required surgery, the stop-start nature of his past 18 months has left some wondering if this year's clay-court season could be more open than usual. The slow conditions and cool climate of Monte Carlo at this time of year could also help to slow the game down which will favour Bautista-Agut somewhat. "Definitely for our sport, it's better that he plays", Djokovic said. There are a lot of guys who are tough on clay, especially Rafa and Novak (Dkjokovic).
"To get dressed a little bit differently than tennis gear and feel royal a little bit at least for five minutes a day, it's nice", Djokovic said. The top seed can tie Nadal's record of 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles if he emerges victorious in the Principality. "'I mean, he's been playing some great tennis lately".
"I've been in comeback situations many times; I've always done well". "That can serve only as an incentive".
In a way, the change of surface is well-timed for Djokovic after his recent defeats.
Both players have byes to the second round here, and are due to play Tuesday or Wednesday.
"It's very demanding physically, tactically, you have to be more patient, resilient, more enduring". It is a slow surface.
The two could meet here this week at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, a venue Djokovic can call home but where Nadal has dominated for more than a decade, winning the title 11 times, including each of the past three years.
"My game and everybody's game will be tested big-time, but that's why we're here".
Nadal arrived in Monte Carlo on Friday and has looked good in practice and appeared relaxed in his media commitments away from the court - usually a good sign of his state of mind.
"It's great to play at home". Right now it's just a different world.
"He can be a favourite to win any tournament".