Monte Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini admits Rafael Nadal will always be the man to beat on clay, despite his recent success over the Spaniard.

Fabio Fognini beat Rafael Nadal on clay on his way to landing the Monte Carlo Masters but he says the Spaniard remains the man to beat on the surface (Fabio Fognini 33/1 – French Open Outright).

Fognini, who is now ranked as the world number 12 by the ATP, secured his first ever Masters 1000 title on Sunday as he overcame Dusan Lajovic in straight sets in the Monte Carlo final.

The 31-year-old Italian saw off Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric and the ‘King of Clay’ in the last four on his way to the final, but he says Nadal should still be rated as the favourite for every clay-court tournament he enters.

On his performances in Monte Carlo, he told the ATP Tour website. “I think I played really good with Sascha [Zverev]. It was really tough against Borna, because we played last and the weather was colder than normal.

“In the semi-final, I think I played my best tennis from the beginning to the end. With Rafa, everybody knows that you have to play really good in the beginning until the end. And today was the final. The most important thing was the cup.”

He added: “If I’m being honest, the favourite is still Rafael Nadal. I’m not the only one that says this. He’s won, I don’t know how many times, and he’s still the favourite every week that we play on this surface.”

Nadal is the EVS favourite with Betfred to win his 12th French Open, which begins at the end of next month, Novak Djokovic is 9/4 and last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem is available at 11/1.

Odds subject to change.