The coming of April is also that time of the year when the entire action of men's tennis is moving completely in Europe. Some big ATP events are set to be played, including 3 Masters 1000 events and a Grand Slam and it's all compressed in a months stretch. Rafael Nadal who is yet to win a title in 2017, despite playing three final so far, is by far that particular name having high expectations floating around him. The Spaniard needs to extract the most out of this clay swing as he also has to defend last year's results.

Nadal to skip Davis Cup rubber against Serbia

This week, the men's tennis has no tournament in place except for Davis Cup's quarterfinals. Spain will face Serbia for a slot in the semis, but the Iberians will not count on Rafael Nadal who's taking some time off after an extended run on the American outdoor session. Djokovic will lead Serbia in this three-out-of-five encounter. Spain has 5 Davis Cup title under its belt, but the last years were rather thin in this particular department while Serbia won it only once back in 2010. For Nadal, the stakes are higher when it comes to the ATP circuit. Having Federer outranking him, the Spaniard must keep a short distance between him and the top 4. Regarding his trajectory on clay, it seems that the odds are good to see him playing all tournaments that matter.

Last year, he won back-to-back in Monte Carlo against Gael Monfils and Barcelona over Kei Nishikori but in Madrid and Rome, he succumbed either against Djokovic or Murray. This time, it might be different as the Serb and the Scot are both coming back from elbow injuries. And Federer who seems to have found a way to see through Nadal won't play on clay except for the french open.

Clay gives him a sense of empowerment

Throughout his career, Rafael Nadal had his fair amount of injuries and poor shape while competing. Almost each time, the clay swing proved to be the safety net, a surface he took the most out of it. Those 9 French Open are not a random fact, they're telling a story of a perfect relation, a special bond of an unprecedented scale. Besides, as a direct result of this connexion, Nadal is also known as The King of Clay. It remains to be seen whether or not he will keep his heraldry intact at the end of this swing.