"I love this event and the weather has been good". That injury had ruled him out of last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open.
"Being in Monte-Carlo always gives me the best feelings possible and good memories".
Both players started the match pretty well, firing some impressive winners with this slowly shaping up to be an outstanding contest. I got to prepare if I need to play tomorrow.
"I've had a very hard time in the last 12 months with the injury and everything else that's happened". "Hope I get more confidence and do well [at] these five tournaments on clay".
Last year, Nadal won a 10th Monte Carlo Masters crown by defeating his fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final and, at 30 years and 10 months old, became the oldest champion in the Open Era at the tournament.
Rafa is indeed the favourite to be celebrating on Sunday, with the Exchange market pricing him at a current [1.64] for glory, and he's one of eight players receiving first-round byes and likely to begin their campaign either on Tuesday, or more probably, Wednesday.
"It's not great but, I mean, first match on clay, you know, I'm expecting (a) little soreness", said Nishikori.
The downturn for Djokovic, who less than two years ago could not be beaten on the men's tour, is in large part due to an elbow problem that does not seem to have fully healed, and off-court distractions he has not detailed publicly.
Speaking about the consequences of the controversial addition to the game, Nadal said ahead of his Monte Carlo title defence: "For me it's not the ideal thing but if the sport is moving that way or they want to move that way, the only thing I can do is accept it and play".
The most strenuous part about it all, Nadal argues, is the physical aspect of the shot clock, claiming that players will be much more worn out during the points, taking away from their peak physical performance in front of a loud and eager crowd.
"I played only with the shot clock in IPTL and it was only 20 seconds".
But while the 24-year-old Austrian has already shown his mettle on the surface, and defeated Nadal twice in seven clay meetings, Thiem's record in Monte Carlo is a poor 3-4 win-loss.