Rafa Nadal: Novak Djokovic the man to beat in Monte Carlo

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Rafael Nadal believes defending champion Novak Djokovic will be the man to beat at the Monte Carlo Masters as the world No.1 aims for a strong start to his French Open tilt.

Top-ranked Djokovic has won 11 career grand slams but a title at Roland Garros has so far eluded him. The Serb went down to Stan Wawrinka in last year's final, having also lost twice to Nadal in 2012 and 2014.

Spaniard Nadal, whose eight-year reign as Monte Carlo champion was ended by Djokovic in 2013, believes his rival should be considered favourite for this week's tournament in the principality -- widely considered as a springboard for the French Open.

"Everybody wants to be in his position now," Nadal, who will face Aljaz Bedene after the British No.2 saw off Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-3 on Monday, told the ATP Tour's official website. "When you win it's easier to keep winning and when you lose it's easier to keep losing.

"It's always those same dynamics, especially with an unbelievable player like him. It's difficult to stop. He's going to be the favourite for every tournament until somebody shows something different. He's the player of the moment without a doubt. Everyone sees him as the winner."

It could well be Djokovic's time to end his French Open hoodoo. His form has been blistering: he has lost only once in 2016 and claimed victories at Doha, the Australian Open and back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami for the third successive year -- thus taking his Masters 1000 titles haul to a record 28. And while Djokovic yearns for the one trophy missing from his resume, he is taking a mindful approach to making it back-to-back wins in Monaco.

"I don't like the word obsession because it doesn't come from the right emotion," Djokovic told reporters on Sunday. "Roland Garros is a wish and it is a goal. Honestly I haven't had any difficulty in my thinking in order to really tell myself that.

"I feel like in the past couple of years I managed to train my mind to stay as much as possible in the present moment and focus on what's coming up next. Of course, like all players, I do think in advance and try to plan in advance. But when you need to operate as a human machine, you need to do that only in the present moment and in the present time. When that time comes for me, I will start thinking about it more than I do now."

As well as facing Bedene in the singles, Nadal could also find himself up against British opposition in the doubles. Andy Murray and Davis Cup teammate Dominic Inglot reached the second round with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers.

Nadal and Fernando Verdasco saw off Philipp Kohlschreiber and Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-2 on Monday and will play Murray and Inglot in the third round, if they get past Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, and the British pair beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Nenad Zimonjic.