This week the elite of tennis will be competing in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But on Sunday a group of them were in a court of an entirely different kind, as they met with HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, who has always supported the tournament at every stage. No 1 Seed Novak Djokovic and Raphael Nadal, who has won the competition eleven times, were joined by Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, David Goffin, Daniil Medvedev and Mischa Zverev.
This will be the 113th of the prestigious tournament, and the eleven players were given a guided tour of the Throne Room and State Apartments finishing with cocktails in the Mirror Gallery. The players also had a surprise for their hosts, as Novak presented His Serene Highness with two large tennis balls signed by the eleven for HSH Hereditary Prince Jacques and HSH Princess Gabriella.
Looking at this year’s tournament, Raphael Nadal at eleven has won the most Monaco titles of any tennis player with eleven. However, first seed Novak Djokovic will no doubt be keen to add to his two wins in the Principality as it will take him over the one thousand tournament wins – a feat that Raphael has already achieved. But some of the other players are keen to show that this is not a two-horse race, last year’s runner up Kei Nishikori is seeded fifth, whilst fourth seed Dominic Thiem won recently in Indian Wells, and Felix Auger-Aliassime reached the semi-finals in Miami.
Prince Albert is a keen sportsman, perhaps best known for representing Monaco at the Winter Olympics in both the 2 and 4-man bobsleigh team, between 1998 and 2002. But tennis is also on the list of sports he excels in. At the age of four, it is a little too young to work out whether the twins will turn into a mixed doubles pairing at some stage!