Rafael Nadal helps sail the Tuiga around the Monte-Carlo harbor
Tennis star is in Monaco for the ATP Monte-Carlo Masters
The Spaniard is looking to reclaim the title after losing out to Novak Djokovic last year
World No. 2 Djokovic wins his opening match in straight sets on Tuesday
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
The “King of Clay” has racked up countless titles on his favored surface, but hailing from the island of Majorca, the Balearic Sea has also been the scene for much personal enjoyment.
There was no better way, then, for Nadal to gear up for this week’s ATP Monte-Carlo Masters than to sail around Monaco’s harbor while being treated to spectacular views of the Cote d’Azur coastline.
The world No. 1 – who is looking to reclaim his title in the Principality after Novak Djokovic ended his eight-year reign in 2013 – jumped on board the Tuiga, manning the rudder and learning the ropes of how to sail the Yacht Club de Monaco’s flagship.
“It was a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon,” Nadal told the ATP World Tour’s official website. “It was a special experience for me. I am from an island, so the sea, the sails and everything involved means a lot to me.”
Nadal, who will also be looking to avenge last month’s Miami Masters final defeat to Djokovic, still lives in the Majorcan town of Manacor where he was born.
But while the 27-year-old is more likely to be found on a motor boat than a sailing ship in the waters outside his house, his experience in Monte Carlo has left a lasting impression on him.
“I spend a lot of time on the sea when I’m at home, especially in the summer. I live in front of the sea and the port is three minutes from my home,” he said.
“I don’t go sailing very often. I go more often on a motor boat. I don’t have much time at the moment for sailing, maybe in the future.
“The way that the crew are working together to make the boat perfect and go faster is amazing. Everybody works for one goal. It’s a special thing.”
Nadal is due to open his bid for a ninth Monte-Carlo Masters title Wednesday and he will be hoping to add to this season’s previous wins at the Qatar Open and Rio Open.
Djokovic, meanwhile, started the defense of his crown Tuesday with a straight-sets win over Spanish qualifier Albert Montanes, winning 6-1 6-0 in the second-round match after receiving an opening bye.
The world No. 2 comes into the tournament on a 10-match winning streak, having won back-to-back Masters titles at the U.S. hard-court events in Indian Wells and Miami.
He is aiming to become only the fifth player to successfully defend his title in Monte-Carlo, following Bjorn Borg, Thomas Muster, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Nadal.
French ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also won his second-round match, beating Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 1-6 6-4.
Tsonga’s compatriot Gilles Simon crashed out, losing his first-round tie 4-6 6-4 6-4 to Russian qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili.
Another Frenchman to taste defeat on Tuesday was Jeremy Chardy. The world No. 48 was comfortably beaten 6-3 6-0 by sixth seed David Ferrer.
Tomas Berdych is another seed safely through after the no. 5 battled from a break down in both sets to defeat Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov 7-5 6-4 in one hour and 40 minutes.
The Czech has reached at least the semifinals in four of his six tournaments in 2014.