Novak Djokovic is set to return to ATP Tour action at the Monte-Carlo Masters ©Getty Images

World number one Novak Djokovic is set to return to the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour at the Monte-Carlo Masters, entering the clay-court tournament as top seed.

Djokovic has not competed on the ATP Tour since losing in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships to qualifier Jiří Veselý of the Czech Republic on February 24.

The Serbian was not allowed to travel to the United States to play in the Miami Open or Indian Wells Masters because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic has won this ATP Masters 1000 tournament twice, in 2013 and 2015.

Despite being top seed in the men's singles, Djokovic could face a difficult run to the semi-finals, with Spanish 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut or Britain's Dan Evans likely to meet him in the third round, while new Miami Open champion Carlos Alcaraz is Djokovic's likely opponent in the quarter-finals.

Spaniard Alcaraz, still only 18, is one of tennis' rising stars.

World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas is the defending Monte-Carlo Masters champion and seeded third this year.

Tsitsipas won last season's title without dropping a set before excelling elsewhere on clay.

The Greek player made the final in Barcelona, won in Lyon and made his first Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2021.

Italian Fabio Fognini could be his first opponent in the second round, while the likes of Diego Schwartzman of Argentina and sixth-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime are also in his bracket for a place in the final four.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is the defending Monte-Carlo Masters champion ©Getty Images
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the defending Monte-Carlo Masters champion ©Getty Images

Norwegian fourth seed Casper Ruud - who lost to Alcaraz in the Miami Open final - is a potential opponent of Djokovic in the semi-finals, as is British seventh seed Cameron Norrie.

German second seed Alexander Zverev and neutral player Andrey Rublev, seeded fifth, could face several big names in their bracket - including Italian ninth seed Jannik Sinner, Spanish 13th seed Pablo Carreño Busta or Swiss wildcard and three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka.

Olympic champion Zverev is yet to win in Monaco, but will look to change that this year.

Notable withdrawals from the competition include Italy's Matteo Berrettini, world number two Daniil Medvedev - another Russian permitted to play as a neutral - Austria's Dominic Thiem and clay-court specialist Rafael Nadal of Spain.

Nadal, a record-breaking 21-time men's singles Grand Slam winner, has a stress fracture to a rib.

The first round begins tomorrow, with the final set for April 17.