Nadal v Dimitrov, Zverev v Fognini On Thursday; View Schedule
Djokovic plays Fritz for spot in quarter-finals
One year since they last faced off, Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov will meet again at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Nadal conceded just five games in his semi-final win over the Bulgarian in 2018 en route to his 11th title at this ATP Masters 1000 tournament. Read More
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a two-time Monte-Carlo champion, also features in third-round action at the Monte-Carlo Country Club on Thursday, and will play American Taylor Fritz for the first time. Meanwhile, third seed Alexander Zverev takes a 2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record into his match against Fabio Fognini.
Full preview to come…
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ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2019
COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am  Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs  Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)  Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs Taylor Fritz (USA) Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs  Rafael Nadal (ESP)  Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs  Alexander Zverev (GER)
COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 am Guido Pella (ARG) vs  Marco Cecchinato (ITA) Cameron Norrie (GBR) vs [Q] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)  Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Dusan Lajovic (SRB) Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) vs  Borna Coric (CRO)
COURT 2 start 11:00 am Diego Schwartzman (ARG) / Joao Sousa (POR) vs  Henri Kontinen (FIN) / John Peers (AUS) After Suitable Rest – Marcelo Demoliner (BRA) / Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs  Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) / Robert Farah (COL) After Suitable Rest – Marton Fucsovics (HUN) / Guido Pella (ARG) vs Radu Albot (MDA) / Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) After Suitable Rest – [WC] Jurgen Melzer (AUT) / Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs  Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA)
Nadal Back In Action: “It Has Been A Very Positive Start”
In his first tournament in one month, Rafael Nadal reflects on a strong start to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
If that performance is indicative of Rafael Nadal’s current form, the rest of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters field has been put on notice.
Nadal secured a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 win over Roberto Bautista Agut on Wednesday, kicking off his quest for a 12th title in the Principality in staggering fashion. He needed 77 minutes to dismiss his countryman.
It was exactly one month ago that the Spaniard withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open due to a right knee injury, ahead of a semi-final clash with Roger Federer. He would also pull out of the Miami Open presented by Itau the following week. But, back on his favourite surface and in the familiar confines of Court Rainier III, where he has lifted the trophy 11 times, Nadal barely put a foot wrong.
The World No. 2 was a defensive demon and attacked with aplomb, using his agility to rattle Bautista Agut and not allow his countryman to find his rhythm. While Nadal admits that he is still not without pain in his knee, he believes there are many encouraging signs from his first match back.
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“This is just the first match and it has been a very positive start,” Nadal told the assembled media at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. “The results say that. And the feeling on court, too. I can’t tell you if I found my great rhythm. This is not the case. I just started well. It is the first match in almost a year on this surface.
“I can’t pretend that I don’t have pain at all, because I never thought about that. It’s a long time ago that professional players play normally with pain, because that’s part of the sport at the highest level. So I was able to move well and be confident with the things that I did. I’m happy for this very positive start.”
Nadal will look to extend his unprecedented match wins haul in Monte-Carlo to 70 when he faces Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday. No other player has won as many matches at a single ATP Masters 1000 event.
It marks the second straight year Nadal and Dimitrov will meet in the Principality, following the second seed’s dominant 6-4, 6-1 semi-final victory in 2018. Moreover, he owns an 11-1 edge in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, having conceded just one set in four matches on clay.
“Of course a start like this helps. Tomorrow is another good test against Grigor, so let’s see,” Nadal added. “I need to play well again. What I need is to play matches, spend more hours on court, and of course the victories help. Every victory brings a positive energy, confidence in the game, confidence in the body. And that’s what I need today. Today was a good start. Let’s try to continue well tomorrow.
“When you come back to this place, the first thing I think is the history is amazing. All the great champions have been playing here. A lot of them winning. For me it is just an honour to play this event.”
Sixteen years later, Nadal’s love affair with the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters is as strong as ever. He has played 73 matches in total at the ATP Masters 1000 event, but the Spaniard still remembers his first. In 2003, a promising 16-year-old stepped on the courts of the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the first time, and he would produce a highly auspicious start.
“I was 16, in my first match in the main draw, of course I remember against Kucera,” Nadal said of his 6-1, 6-2 win over Karol Kucera in his tournament debut. “And against Albert Costa, of course I remember the match very well. It was late. At the beginning I think he felt confident that he was dominating me. But at some point, you get closer to the end and it was not easy to play against a very young player like I was in that moment, and he was a little bit more nervous. I played a good match and I was able to find a way.”
Nadal will next face Dimitrov on Thursday on Court Rainier III. It will be the third match on, with play beginning at 11am.
Indian Wells titlist seeks more ATP Masters 1000 silverware
Dominic Thiem needed 84 minutes to confirm his spot in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters third round on Wednesday, beating Martin Klizan 6-1, 6-4.
Despite entering the match with just one win from four FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters against Klizan, Thiem won 20 of 23 first-serve points and did not face a break point en route to his fourth straight appearance in the third round.
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The 25-year-old arrives in Monte-Carlo in form after capturing his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open last month (d. Federer). That milestone victory came in the early stages of his new coaching partnership with former World No. 9 Nicolas Massu.
Thiem began working with the Chilean during the ‘Golden Swing’ in February and the relationship could prove to be even more effective on the red dirt. During his career, Massu lifted five of his six tour-level titles on the surface.
Aiming to reach back-to-back quarter-finals in the Principality, Thiem will meet Dusan Lajovic in the third round. Last year, the Austrian defeated Novak Djokovic in three sets to reach his maiden quarter-final at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, before falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.
Lajovic overcame 2017 semi-finalist David Goffin 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes. The World No. 48 converted four of eight break points to book a sixth FedEx ATP Head2Head clash against Thiem. The World No. 4 owns an unbeaten 5-0 record against Lajovic, with each of those meetings coming on clay.
British-Brazilian duo seek first Monte-Carlo crown
In 2016, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares finished runner-up at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. This year, the British-Brazilian duo are on a mission to go one step further.
Murray and Soares secured a tight 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 10-8 victory over Ivan Dodig and Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Wednesday, needing two hours and five minutes to prevail. The third seeds saved all three break points faced to move into the quarter-finals. Having also saved three match points in their opening victory on Sunday, the duo have won back-to-back Match Tie-breaks to kick off their campaign.
Also advancing on Wednesday were second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, following a 7-6(8), 6-4 win over Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez. Kubot and Melo dismissed the Spaniards after one hour and 47 minutes, saving seven of 10 break points faced. The Polish-Brazilian duo are looking to add a fifth piece of ATP Masters 1000 silverware to their collection, all at different tournaments.
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Meanwhile, Nikola Mektic continued his winning ways in Masters 1000 events, improving to 8-1 this year. He teamed with countryman Franko Skugor for a 3-6, 6-3, 10-4 comeback win over Karen Khachanov and Feliciano Lopez. The Indian Wells champion alongside Horacio Zeballos, Mektic is targeting a second title at the level this year.
Other results include Zeballos and Maximo Gonzalez moving into the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-6 upset of fifth seeds and last year’s finalists Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. The Argentine duo lifted the trophy in Buenos Aires in February. And Dutch duo Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof advanced with a 6-7(8), 6-4, 10-8 win over German brothers Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev. They are in fine form after stunning top seeds and 2016 champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in straight sets in the first round.
Did You Know? There is guaranteed to be a first-time Monte-Carlo doubles champion this year, following Herbert and Mahut’s defeat.
11-time champion now 69-4 at Monte-Carlo Country Club
In his first match since the BNP Paribas Open, Rafael Nadal began his bid for a 12th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters crown in style on Wednesday.
The 11-time champion raced past countryman Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1 to notch his 69th victory in 73 matches at the opening ATP Masters 1000 event of the European clay swing. Nadal saved each of the five break points he faced to advance after 76 minutes.
The World No. 2 extends his winning streak to 16 matches in the Principality. The last man to defeat Nadal at this event was Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semi-finals. The second seed also improves to 3-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against the Spanish No. 2, winning each of those three encounters in straight sets.
Nadal will play Jan-Lennard Struff or Grigor Dimitrov in the third round. The 80-time tour-level titlist leads Dimitrov 11-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which includes wins for Nadal at this event in the 2013 quarter-finals and last year’s semi-finals. Nadal is yet to meet Struff at tour-level.
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Any suspicion that Nadal may take some time to recapture his best level were quickly erased on Court Rainier III, as the Spaniard dominated the centre of the court. Nadal regularly moved Bautista Agut out of position, opening the court with powerful forehand combinations to take the opening set after 32 minutes.
The Australian Open finalist rode the momentum into the second set, firing a signature forehand up the line en route to his third break of serve. After recovering from 0/40 down at 2-1, Nadal charged into the net to secure a 4-1 advantage. The defending champion moved up the court behind his forehand on his first match point, booking his place in the last 16 with a forehand volley.
Bautista Agut entered the match with a 3-1 record against Top 10 opponents this year, which includes two victories over World No. 1 Djokovic. The Spaniard opened his season by capturing his ninth ATP Tour title at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. Berdych), before breaking through to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open (l. to Tsitsipas).
The 32-year-old Nadal will be aiming to add to his Open Era record 57 clay-court titles this week. The Manacor native also owns a record 92.0 per cent success rate on clay (416-36) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone.
World No. 3 to next face Italian favourite Fognini
Alexander Zverev navigated a tricky opening match at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Wednesday, beating #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-4.
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, who reached the semi-finals in the Principality last year (l. to Nishikori), converted six of seven break points to book his place in the third round. Zverev has now collected seven wins from 10 matches at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
In one of the picks of the second round, Zverev made 96 per cent of returns to apply consistent pressure to his opponent and claim his second victory on clay this year. Auger-Aliassime entered the match with great confidence, having risen 75 spots in the ATP Rankings already this year, following runs to the Rio Open presented by Claro final (l. to Djere) and the Miami Open presented by Itau semi-finals (l. to Isner). But Zverev quickly proved why he has reached three of the past four ATP Masters 1000 finals on this surface, notching his 12th victory of the year after one hour and 18 minutes.
“Obviously he’s a great player with a lot of confidence,” said Zverev. “This year he’s one of the best players on tour. He’s Top 10 in the Race [To London] or something like that. You know semi-finals in Miami, as well, so he knows how to play on a big stage. I knew coming in that it wasn’t going to be an easy match. I’m just happy to get through and to get a quality match in.” Watch Full Interview
Zverev can complete the set of clay Masters 1000 titles in Monte-Carlo this week. In 2017, Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to capture his maiden Masters 1000 crown and also triumphed last year at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem) with a dominant week on serve, facing just one break point en route to the title.
Zverev got off to the perfect start on Court Rainier III, setting the tone with a cross-court backhand passing shot to break in the opening game. From 2-1, the 21-year-old claimed 16 of the next 18 points, which included two love service breaks, to take a one-set lead after 30 minutes.
Auger-Aliassime responded well in the second set, attacking Zverev’s backhand at 1-1 to break serve for the first time. But the Miami Open presented by Itau semi-finalist surrendered his break advantage at 3-2 with his fourth double fault. Both men failed to hold their next service games, before Zverev held serve and capitalised on a forehand error from Auger-Aliassime to claim victory with his sixth break of the match.
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This is the second straight year that Auger-Aliassime has been eliminated in Monaco by a member of the Zverev family. The Canadian, who made his event debut at No. 175 in the ATP Rankings last year, fell in three sets to the World No. 3’s older brother, Mischa Zverev.
Zverev will play Fabio Fognini for a quarter-final spot. Fognini advanced to third round by walk over, following the withdrawal of Gilles Simon (back injury). The Monte-Carlo resident leads Fognini 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with wins at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and the China Open in 2017.
Tsitsipas Withstands Comeback, Now Plays Medvedev In Monte-Carlo
Medvedev cruised past Albot and into third round
In a rematch of this year’s Open 13 Provence final, Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 7-5 to open his Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters campaign on Wednesday.
The #NextGenATP Greek scored his first win on clay this year, firing 22 winners to advance after one hour and 42 minutes. Following his third win over the Kazakh in as many FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, Tsitsipas has claimed 18 wins from 25 tour-level matches this season.
Tsitsipas’ last win over Kukushkin, in this year’s Marseille championship match, proved to be the springboard towards a place in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. The two-time ATP Tour titlist claimed his spot in the elite group one week later, following his run to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship final (l. to Federer). The World No. 8 has risen 63 spots in the past year, having entered Monte-Carlo as a No. 71-ranked qualifier last season.
“There are players out there that want to beat me badly and want the same piece of maybe glory that I want,” said Tsitsipas. “So it’s going to be very difficult to stay concentrated and focused, but once I get there, I think there is nothing that can stop me, because I feel like I can play really good on clay.”
The 20-year-old will be aiming to reach his sixth tour-level quarter-final of the year when he meets Daniil Medvedev in the third round. Tsitsipas owns a 0-3 FedEx ATPHead2Head record against the Russian, who defeated Delray Beach Open champion Radu Albot 6-1, 6-2.
“[Daniil] has a different game than other players. He has a good serve… it can get really aggressive and frustrating to return,” said Tsitsipas.
“He’s maybe a baseliner who likes to play a bit behind the baseline. He’s a good defender for his height… I just have to play every single shot that comes to me as if there is no other player on the other side of the court.”
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Medvedev now owns a Tour-leading 19 victories this year (19-6) after cruising past Albot in 69 minutes. The 23-year-old converted six of eight break points to advance to the third round for the first time.
Medvedev has dropped only five games in his first two matches at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. In his first-round match, the Russian defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-1, 6-1.
Taylor Fritz needed 86 minutes to upset Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2. The 21-year-old American will meet World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round.
Britain’s Dan Evans has earned a place in the main draw at next month’s French Open at Roland Garros.
He is joined by compatriots Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie in the draw for the men’s singles, while two more Britons, Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter, are entered into the women’s singles.
It is the first time in two years that world number 89 Evans has made the main draw by ranking.
He returned from a one-year ban for taking cocaine 12 months ago.
The 28-year-old has only once before played in the first round of the French Open, in 2017, when he was beaten by Spain’s Tommy Robredo.
Edmund reached the third round in 2018, while Norrie exited in the second. Two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Konta has never progressed past the first round, while this year marks Boulter’s debut in the main draw.
The French Open takes place in Paris between 20 May and 9 June.
Read & Watch Hot Shots: Herbert Upsets Nishikori For Third Top 10 Win
Frenchman, who is focusing more on singles in 2019, faces Coric on Thursday
Pierre-Hugues Herbert stunned last year’s finalist Kei Nishikori 7-5, 6-4 at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Wednesday to reach the third round for the first time.
The Open Sud de France runner-up found his best level in the big moments, saving all 10 break points he faced to advance after one hour and 42 minutes. Herbert’s first victory over Nishikori in three FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters is also the Frenchman’s first Top 10 victory on clay. Herbert owns a 3-11 overall record against Top 10 opposition.
“This was a very nice victory. Probably one of the nicest on clay and probably one of the nicest of my career, so I am really excited about it,” said Herbert.
“I’m very happy for this victory, but we shouldn’t exaggerate. I had 10 break points that I had to save and I’m happy that I managed to play good in the difficult points. It was tricky, because it wouldn’t have taken much for him to take the advantage.”
Herbert will meet ninth seed Borna Coric for a place in the quarter-finals. The World No. 49, who is aiming to reach his third quarter-final this year, lost his only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head clash against Coric at the 2017 Mutua Madrid Open. Alongside his run to the Open Sud de France championship match (l. to Tsonga), Herbert opened his season with a run to the last eight at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (l. to Berdych).
“[Coric] has spent lots of time on clay, so it’s going to be a big challenge tomorrow for me,” said Herbert. “Again, I’m not going to be the favourite, of course, but on my side, I also won two difficult matches, so why not?”
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On Court 2, Cameron Norrie captured his 10th tour-level victory of the season (10-8). The 23-year-old, who reached the ASB Classic final in January (l. to Sandgren), defeated Marton Fucsovics 7-6(3), 6-3.
Norrie will face Lorenzo Sonego for a quarter-final berth. The Italian qualifier stunned eighth seed Karen Khachanov 7-6(4), 6-4 on Tuesday.