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Rafael Nadal begins his quest for an unprecedented twelfth title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Rafa Opens Title Defence, Sascha Faces Felix; Wednesday Schedule & Preview

Thiem, returning finalist Nishikori also in action

Eleven-time champion Rafael Nadal leads the way on a busy Wednesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which also features Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and 2018 runner-up Kei Nishikori in second-round matches on Court Rainier III. 

Nadal opens up his campaign for a fourth straight Monte-Carlo title against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The second seed leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0 and dropped just 12 games in the five sets they've played. Nadal is a perfect 15-0 in his opening-round matches in Monte-Carlo and hasn't lost before the quarter-finals in his past 14 appearances. 

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World No. 3 Zverev, a winner of three ATP Masters 1000 titles, faces fast-rising Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head clash. The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime became the first player born in the 2000s to break into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings following his recent semi-final run at the Miami Open presented by Itau. Zverev has enjoyed past Monte-Carlo success by reaching the semi-finals last year. The German seeks another big run at this event after a disappointing second-round exit last week at the Grand Prix Hassan II.

Fourth seed Thiem opens his clay-court season with a tricky match against veteran Martin Klizan of Slovakia. Klizan leads their FedEx ATP HeadHead rivalry 3-1 and has won both of their previous meetings on clay, but the Austrian won their most recent match last September in St. Petersburg. Thiem is riding high on confidence after winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title last month at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer).

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Fifth seed Nishikori kicks off play on Court Rainier III against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. The Japanese star used his runner-up finish last year in Monte-Carlo as a springboard back into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. Nishikori leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Herbert 2-0, but the Frenchman is playing some of his best tennis and reached his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 36 just two months ago.

Other notable matches on Wednesday include sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, 10th seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia squaring off with Radu Albot of Moldova, and 13th seed Fabio Fognini of Italy taking on Gilles Simon of France.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Rafa's Monte-Carlo History?
Read: Zverev On Felix & Shapovalov: 'They Will Be On Top'
 

ORDER OF PLAY - WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2019

COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
[5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 
[WC] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs [3] Alexander Zverev (GER) 
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 
[4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Martin Klizan (SVK) 

COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 am
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) vs [6] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 
Not Before 12:00 noon
[13] Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Gilles Simon (FRA) 
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) vs Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs [16] David Goffin (BEL) 

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[10] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs Radu Albot (MDA) 
Not Before 12:00 pm
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) vs Cameron Norrie (GBR) 
After Suitable Rest - Robin Haase (NED) / Wesley Koolhof (NED) vs Alexander Zverev (GER) / Mischa Zverev (GER) 

COURT 9 start 11:00 am
[3] Jamie Murray (GBR) / Bruno Soares (BRA) vs Ivan Dodig (CRO) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 
[7] Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Franko Skugor (CRO) vs Karen Khachanov (RUS) / Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 

COURT 11 start 12:00 noon
Marcel Granollers (ESP) / Marc Lopez (ESP) vs [2] Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA) 
[5] Oliver Marach (AUT) / Mate Pavic (CRO) vs Maximo Gonzalez (ARG) / Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 

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