Novak Djokovic Ankle Injury Impacts Rafael Nadal and Monte-Carlo Masters Draw

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Novak Djokovic Ankle Injury Impacts Rafael Nadal and Monte-Carlo Masters Draw
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic’s injured ankle has turned into the hottest tennis story of the Monte-Carlo Masters draw this weekend. Even the subject of Rafael Nadal’s knees has been put on ice.

Djokovic hurt his ankle last Sunday in a Davis Cup match for Serbia against the United States. An MRI showed no structural damage, but recommended rest for optimum healing, according to Djokovic's website. There was also a statement that he promises to make a late decision on his ankle on whether he will play at Monte-Carlo, or if he will rest.

Regardless, his possible absence has already altered the landscape for the nuclear war on clay. The weakening of one superpower allows the other to increase his strength. Nadal is now a huge favorite to rule for a ninth consecutive year at Monte-Carlo, and this defense promises to be hot and fierce—but it loses its biggest confrontation.

There are ATP contenders looking to capitalize on this new opportunity to rise out of the rubble and seize their own rewards. They are the talented survivalists seeking more than the scraps of post-apocalyptic rations.

Which dark-horse players will arm themselves with the confidence and resourcefulness to surprise Nadal and muster the strength needed to claim the French Open title?

Who will shrink away and seek cover beneath two months of clay-court attrition?

Europe is now center stage. Get ready for fruit-filled crepes, chocolate croissants, Perrier sparkling water and logos of Lacoste, BNP Paribas and Peugeot. They’re as omnipresent as cool umbrellas during changeovers.

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