Juan Monaco begins the defence of his ATP Vina Del Mar title on Wednesday against France's Guillaume Rufin.
Monaco stormed to victory in Vina Del Mar twelve months ago, crushing France's Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-finals before overcoming compatriot Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-1 to claim the title. He would have been expecting to be top seed and the favourite once again until Rafa Nadal turned things upside down by announcing that he would make his comeback in this small ATP 250 event.
If Monaco can build up some momentum he may fancy his chances against a rusty Nadal should they meet in Sunday's final. He hasn't had a particularly good start to the year, losing in the first round of the Australian Open but he's a far more dangerous competitor on clay than on hard courts.
As second seed, Monaco received a first round bye while Rufin was overcoming Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-3, 6-4. The 22 year old Frenchman is ranked 93 in the world and lost his opening two matches in 2013 before winning a round at the Australian Open, beating Julien Reister before going on to lose to Tomas Berdych in straight sets in round two.
If Monaco wins then he could face Berlocq in the quarter-finals in a rematch of last year's final.
Prediction: Monaco in two.