Rafael Nadal will start his bid for a fifth Rome Masters title this week, secure in the knowledge that he is back to his best and already dreaming of reclaiming his French Open crown.
A week ago Nadal won an historic sixth straight Monte Carlo Masters crown, ending an almost year-long wait for a trophy since triumphing in Rome 12 months ago.
It is perhaps a surprising claim for a 23-year-old who already has 37 tour titles to his name but Nadal really was in a rut.
But now his confidence and form are back after a long period of injury that interrupted the second half of his season last year.
Nadal is eager to play at one of the four tournaments he has almost owned these past six years — the others being the French Open, where he won four in a row until his fourth round exit last season, and Barcelona which he had won five times consecutively until skipping this year's event to prepare for Rome.
“Rome is one of my favourite tournaments alongside Barcelona and Monte Carlo and not just because it's on clay and because I've been successful over the years, but also for the atmosphere and the fans who are always warm and friendly,” he told Saturday's edition of the Italian Sports Week magazine.
He also recalled his two epic victories here in five-set finals against Guillermo Coria and Roger Federer in 2005 and 2006.
“Against Federer and Coria I played two of the most memorable matches of my life. Long, intense, fantastic, unforgettable.”
That 2006 final against Federer was the last one to be played over five sets but there will be no repeat final this time around as they are in the same half of the draw.
World number one Federer has never won in Rome and will meet Nadal in the semifinals if all things go to form.