Djokovic targets fast start to clay-court season as he heads to Monte Carlo after a break

After missing the action in the USA last month, Novak Djokovic is targeting a strong start to the clay season when he leads the field as the top seed at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The World No. 1 has not competed since he reached the semifinals in Dubai in early March as he was forced to miss the Indian Wells and Miami, both ATP 1000 masters events, after he was denied entry to the United States over his vaccination status.

"I have done more training on clay, which is positive if you think about the clay season. I have not had much success in Monte-Carlo in the past two seasons. I haven't played great tennis here, so I am hoping this year I can start the clay season better than in previous years and build my form," Djokovic said in his pre-tournament press conference.

The Serbian great has not had much success in Monte Carlo in the past two years and had suffered an opening-round exit last year. However, he has tasted success at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event in 2013 and 2015.

Djokovic uses the Monte-Carlo Country Club as a training base and is excited to be competing at the prestigious venue again.

"It is a club I know very well. Quite a few top players reside in Monaco and use this club as a training base. The club transforms incredibly during the weeks of the tournament, but it is a great feeling to sleep in your own bed. Being able to have a home feeling of playing in the tournament," Djokovic said.

"The atmosphere is amazing, with the club being so intimate and small. It is noisy and great. People are so excited to watch tennis and this is the tournament that has been successful throughout the history of our sport," the Serbian added.

Djokovic is chasing a record-extending 39th ATP Masters 1000 crown this week in the Principality. The 35-year-old will begin his quest against American Mackenzie McDonald or a qualifier.