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Rafael Nadal stands alone atop the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 leaderboard.

5 Things We Learned From Monte-Carlo

ATPWorldTour.com reviews the biggest storylines from the 2018 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

1. Rafa Is Rafa-ing, Again
The best is getting even better. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, having won his 11th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title on Sunday (d. Nishikori), is now the all-time leader in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns. Nadal has 31 titles at the prestigious level. He had been even with Novak Djokovic at 30.

Watch: Rafa Wins 11th Monte-Carlo Title

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Title Leaders

Player

Masters 1000 Titles

Monte-Carlo Titles

(1) Rafael Nadal

31

11

(2) Novak Djokovic

30

2

(3) Roger Federer

27

0

(4) Andre Agassi

17

0

(5) Andy Murray

14

0

With two more clay-court Masters 1000 tournaments in the near future – Madrid, Rome – Nadal could very well have 33 Masters 1000 titles before the European clay-court season ends. That's because Nadal, the all-time clay-court titles leader with 54, appears to be doing the unthinkable: improving his tennis on the red dirt.

Read & Watch: Nadal Clinches La Undécima

The Spaniard has now won a career-best 36 consecutive sets on clay. His flawless run through the Monte-Carlo field marked only the fifth time he had won the tournament without dropping a set (2008-10, 2012, 2018).

2. Kei Is Back, Or Very Close To It
Two and a half months ago, Kei Nishikori was lifiting the trophy at the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas, an indoor ATP Challenger Tour event in the Texas metropolis. On Sunday, he battled for one of the biggest titles in tennis in the Principality of Monaco.

Read More: Nishikori: 'I'm Almost There'

Suffice to say, Nishikori's comeback from right-wrist surgery is coming along well. It was only the second time that the Japanese star had played at the Masters 1000 tournament in Monte-Carlo (2012). But he played like a man familiar with the territory, beating Tomas Berdych, Sydney International titlist Daniil Medvedev, second seed Marin Cilic and two-time Masters 1000 titlist Alexander Zverev to reach his first final since February 2017 (Argentina Open, l. to Dolgopolov).

Watch: Nishikori Reaches Monte-Carlo Final

3. The Bryans Are, Without A Doubt, Back
In February, even their most loyal fans had to be wondering when Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan would again be celebrating “Big Titles”. Now those same fans must just be enjoying the ride.

The Bryan brothers won their second consecutive Masters 1000 title and their 38th overall on Sunday at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, defeating Australian Open champions Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic.

Read & Watch: Bryans Capture 38th Masters 1000 Crown

Three weeks ago, the Bryans won the Miami Open presented by Itau doubles crown, their biggest title since Rome 2016 and their first tour-level crown since Atlanta 2017. The American twins have now reached three consecutive Masters 1000 finals, having lost in the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells last month (l. to Isner/Sock).

Watch: Bryans Win Monte-Carlo Doubles Title

4. Djokovic Is Improving and Hungry
Two-time Monte-Carlo champion Novak Djokovic didn't bring home his third title this week, but the Serbian left the Principality feeling upbeat about his tennis. Djokovic pushed fifth seed Dominic Thiem, the only player to beat Nadal on clay last year, to three sets before bowing out in the third round.

Read More: Djokovic Disappointed By Encouraged By Monte-Carlo Run

The near future, however, is looking positive for the 30-time Masters 1000 champion. He's playing without pain in his right elbow after being bothered by discomfort for nearly two and a half years, and Djokovic has a stable situation in his coaching box. He and longtime coach Marian Vajda will continue to work together through the clay-court season.

Watch Hot Shot: Djokovic Unleashes

5. Zverev Coming Close To Mastering Masters 1000 Tournaments
He has yet to hoist a Masters 1000 title in 2018 but, of late, Alexander Zverev has been one of the most consistent players at the big-time level.

After a second-round exit in Indian Wells, Zverev made the final in Miami (l. to Isner) and the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nishikori). The World No. 4 is 17-7 on the year and finding his best tennis as the European clay-court season gets underway.

It's good timing for Zverev. In one week, he'll be defending 250 ATP Rankings points at the BMW Open By FWU in Munich, where he won his first clay-court title last year (d. Pella), and in three weeks, Zverev will be defending 1,000 ATP Rankings points at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, where he won his maiden Masters 1000 title last year (d. Djokovic).

Watch: Zverev Reflects On QF Win

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