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Rafael Nadal eyes Monte Carlo as 1st event since Aussie Open


MONACO -- Rafael Nadal is aiming to make his comeback from a hip injury at the clay-court Monte Carlo Masters next month, organizers said Wednesday.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been sidelined with a left hip flexor injury since the Australian Open and pulled out of hard-court tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami.

The Monte Carlo Masters begins April 8, and tournament director David Massey is optimistic that Nadal will play.

"Rafa was the first [player] to be registered," Massey said in a statement. "He really wants to play at the Monte Carlo Masters and is giving himself every chance to take part in the tournament he's so fond of."

Nadal, 36, has won the tournament a record 11 times, including an Open era record streak of eight consecutive titles from 2005 to 2012.

He uses the event as a key part of his preparations for the French Open, which takes place May 28 to June 11.

Nadal has won 14 of his major titles on clay at Roland Garros, including last year while dealing with chronic pain in his left foot.

In January, Nadal hurt his hip flexor during a second-round loss to American Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open.

An MRI the next day revealed the extent of the injury.

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