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Beyond the Baseline

Rafael Nadal dismisses 'favorite' label in Monte Carlo

Rafael Nadal has won 14 matches in a row, but dismisses idea he's the front-runner. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Rafael Nadal has won 42 matches in a row at Monte Carlo, but says streak could still end. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal is going for an unprecedented ninth consecutive title at the Monte Carlo Masters this week. But despite the fact he is 44-1 there and has dropped a mere two sets in the last six years, the Spaniard refused to acknowledge his front-runner status at the first clay-court ATP Masters 1000 of the season.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Nadal said his 42-match winning streak in Monte Carlo has to end eventually.

"I cannot say I'm the biggest favorite to win here again," the Spaniard said on Monday as he prepared for his second-round start after a bye.

"This is not an easy event to win. I don't want to lose perspective, but I don't want to lose either.

"Everything in life finishes sometime. Someday the winning will stop, not everything is forever.

Nadal says his knees still aren't at 100 percent but, as he indicated in Indian Wells, he's sick of talking about them. Since returning to the tour after a seven-month absence in February, Nadal has won three titles (Indian Wells, Acapulco and Sao Paulo) and compiled a 17-1 record. Given his results, Nadal told German press agency DPA that it would be "arrogant" to continue complaining about the health of his knees.

"I cannot say I'm not 100 percent when I won three of the four tournaments that I played since my return. The other players would say that I am an arrogant," Nadal said in Monte Carlo, where he will try to win his record-extending ninth title. "But you cannot be 100 percent after stopping for seven months.”

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