Monte Carlo | Sinner and Djokovic start with similar impressive performances.

The second round at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters was nearly completed Wednesday with just two matches suspended overnight thanks to a late burst of evening rain on the Mediterranean coast. As things stand, Holger Rune and Grigor Dimitrov will resume leading their respective opponents by a set and 2-1 and look set to meet in the next round.

It’s always great to be back here, the atmosphere is amazing, so it’s good Jannik Sinner

Meanwhile, with the top names making an appearance following their opening round byes, the packed stands were delighted to watch the likes of Jannik Sinner and, last Tuesday, Novak Djokovic, in action the pair seeded to meet in the final.

Both produced impressive opening round performances with the world No.2 Sinner, sweeping aside Sebastian Korda in straight sets as did the No.1 Djokovic 24-hours earlier. However, the defending champion Andrey Rublev, the sixth seeded Russian, crashed out to Australia’s Alexei Popyryn.

Sinner’s form has been outstanding this season and it continued in the Principality where he dominated Korda to seal a 6-1 6-2 victory extending his wins so far this year to 23 for the loss of just one match, as he launched his campaign for a fourth Masters title.

Speaking afterwards, Sinner said: “I moved quite well, every year it’s quite tough to come here and try to perform well. I am very happy with the performance.

“It’s always great to be back here, the atmosphere is amazing, so it’s good.”

The Italian had earlier indicated some concerns about switching from hardcourts to clay but there were no signs of any adjustment problems, opening with a break and then fending off three break-back points in the next game to go 2-0 up.

Another break pulled Sinner 4-1 ahead and then, without conceding another game, pocketed the set with confident aplomb with a forehand winner!

The pressure was now very much on Korda and he was forced to dig deep to hang on to his opening service game as Sinner resumed his dominance by breaking for a 3-1 lead and helped by a series of unforced errors from his opponent’s racket, romped into the third round where he meets Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, a 7-6(2) 6-1 winner over Croatia’s Borna Coric.


Novak Djokovic eased himself into the next round

(Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

As mentioned, Djokovic eased his way into round three 24-hours earlier, taking out Russia’s Roman Safiullin by he same 6-1 6-2 scoreline.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion concluded the match with little fuss in little more than an hour to set up a clash with Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti, who beat the French teenager Arthur Fils 6-3 7-5.

A delighted Djokovic, playing his first match since his shock defeat to Luca Nardi at the Indian Wells Masters, commented following his victory.

“I’m very pleased; even in the games that I lost, I had break points in those. It was a really good match to start the clay season, which has always been a little bit up and down for me.

“I started off well in this tournament last year and then I lost the second match. I hope to maintain this rhythm, I have a day of training tomorrow and then I’m hoping to come back with the same aptitude and quality of tennis.”

Djokovic is now the oldest man to be ranked world No.1 ahead of his 37th birthday next month, with Rohan Bopanna holding that honour in the men’s doubles rankings at the age of 44.

The Serbian joked about the duo’s advancing years, but the two-time Monte-Carlo winner then revealed: “I met Bopanna yesterday who is the oldest [men’s] doubles number one in history. He said that we have a combined age of 80!

“He does contribute to the 80 more than I do. But to still compete at the highest level and be number one in the world at almost 37 is not something I dreamt or planned to become a reality.

“But all the work and dedication to the sport in the end, and to body and staying fit, is paying off. I’m able to maintain that longevity and extend my career for years and years.”

That will be well tested over the coming months by Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz, the young Spaniard who withdrew from this week’s event with a forearm injury, and a number of other ‘youngsters’.


Alexei Popyrin downed the defending champion

(Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

The upset of the day was the demise of the defending champion who lost 6-4 6-4 to the world No,46, Alexei Popyrin of Australia who struck 25 winners against the usually solid Russian.

“I enjoyed coming out on centre court for the first time. First tournament on clay of the year and I have good memories from clay last year,” a beaming Popyrin said.

“I am feeling really comfortable on it and happy to beat a guy who was in form, confident and the defending champ. It was an awesome match.”

Popyrin will next play fellow Aussie Alex De Minaur, who beat Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 2-6 6-2 6-3.

Rounding up other second-round results over the past 48-hours Germany’s Alexander Zverev, sealed a place in the third round with a resounding 6-3 6-4 win over Austria’s Sebastian Ofner.

The world No.5 was in impressive form against the Austrian after the 78-minute conquest, and faces his rival, Stefanos Tsitsipas in round three, the Greek who has slipped out of the top ten, having virtually whitewashed Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-1 6-0.

Speaking after the match, Zverev said: “I lost a little of focus in the end being up by two, but that can happen. It’s the first match on a new surface this year and I’m looking forward to the next few matches.

“It’s a surface I enjoy playing and one where I hope to do well on this season.”


Daniil Medvedev iis told to calm down by Umpire Mohamed Lahyani

. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Meanwhile the fourth seeded Daniil Medvedev recovered his poise after he lost his rag halfway through his match with the veteran French entertainer, Gael Monfils.

The Russian was leading 6-2 1-2 when he was annoyed by two line calls on his baseline which he contested as umpire Mohammed Layhani attempted to calm him down.

“Please don’t shout at him. He [the line judge] can make a mistake as well,” Lahyani could be heard saying.

From 40-15 up, Medvedev was then broken and fell 4-1 behind as he vented his frustration, this time at the umpire during a change of ends.

However, Medvedev, after finally composing himself, reeled off five games in a row to book his place in the next round where he meets fellow Russian Karen Khachanov, a 4-6 6-4 6-3 winner over Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo.

Later he was asked about the incident.

“I am happy I managed to at one moment try to stay calm, to get my composure, that’s what I wanted to do more this year,” he said.

“There are going to be moments when I still go crazy because…but I am 99% sure the ball was out. It’s a pity because I would have won the game and maybe I win 6-2, but I am happy that even from 4-1 I managed to come back win the set.”

Finally, Norway’s Casper Ruud beat Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo 6-2 6-4 to meet Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, a 7-5 6-6(4) winner over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Frances Ugo Humbert takes on Lorenzo Sonego, after the Frenchman beat China’s Zhizhen Zhang 6-1 6-4 and the Italian dismissed Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime 6-4 7-5.



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