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Wednesday Preview: Nadal, Djokovic Making Moves In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

No one has won more ATP Masters 1000 titles at a single event then Rafael Nadal at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, and the third seed will hit the court to begin his quest for a record-extending 12th trophy on Wednesday.

The former World No. 1 will take on Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis in the third match on Court Rainier III, a stadium that has seen Nadal take a bite out of 11 trophies and rack up a 71-5 record in the Principality. He will bring a 4-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his second-round clash with Delbonis.

Nadal will be competing for the first time since his run to the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. Tsitsipas).

“I [took] a while after Australia. [It’s] going to be my second tournament [of the year],” Nadal said in a pre-tournament press conference. “[We] arrive at an important part of the season for me. I think I did the right work to be ready.

“It’s true that I didn’t play much,” he added. “At the same time, [it] is true that I had good success in the past without playing [many] matches. My mindset is the same as always.”

Two-time former champion and Monte-Carlo resident Novak Djokovic will take on #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner for the first time in tour-level competition in one of the most anticipated second-round battles of the day.

The World No. 1 is contesting his first event since claiming a record-extending ninth Australian Open title. He’ll have to hit the ground running against the red-hot 19-year-old, who arrived in Monte-Carlo after reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Miami.

“He’s [a] very, very nice person. He’s working really hard. He’s devoted. He’s got all the goods that he needs in order to become a champion,” Djokovic said of Sinner in a pre-event press conference. “He’s in a right way and he’s surrounded [by] very good people… [His coach] Riccardo [Piatti] was my coach the first years of my professional career. He’s in good hands.

“We [have] never faced each other in an official match, so it would be definitely great to play him on clay, and let’s see what happens,” he added.

Fifth seed Alexander Zverev and sixth seed Andrey Rublev will also be making their start at the year’s first clay-court Masters 1000 event, and they’re both set to face Italian opposition in the second round. Acapulco champion Zverev will take on Lorenzo Sonego, while Rublev begins his Monte-Carlo campaign against qualifier Salvatore Caruso.

Elsewhere, seventh seed Diego Schwartzman and defending champion Fabio Fognini will be holding court at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. They are contesting back-to-back singles matches on Court des Princes, with 15th seed Fognini taking on Jordan Thompson and the Argentine facing off against Casper Ruud. Later in the day, Schwartzman and Fognini will reunite for doubles as they face sixth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot in the second round.


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COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am

[6] A. Rublev (RUS) vs [Q] S. Caruso (ITA)
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs J. Sinner (ITA)
[Q] F. Delbonis (ARG) vs [3] R. Nadal (ESP)
L. Sonego (ITA) vs [5] A. Zverev (GER)

COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 am
[15] F. Fognini (ITA) vs J. Thompson (AUS)
[7] D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs C. Ruud (NOR)
D. Evans (GBR) vs [13] H. Hurkacz (POL)
After Suitable Rest – F. Fognini (ITA) / D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs [6] W. Koolhof (NED) / L. Kubot (POL)

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[14] G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs J. Chardy (FRA)
[11] D. Goffin (BEL) vs [Q] M. Cecchinato (ITA)
T. Paul (USA) vs [9] R. Bautista Agut (ESP)
After Suitable Rest – K. Khachanov (RUS) / A. Rublev (RUS) vs [4] M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG)

COURT 9 start 11:00 am
J. Millman (AUS) vs [16] C. Garin (CHI)
[Q] A. Popyrin (AUS) vs [WC] L. Pouille (FRA)
K. Khachanov (RUS) vs [12] P. Carreno Busta (ESP)
[7] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs H. Kontinen (FIN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

COURT 11 start 1:00 pm
Second Round – F. Krajinovic (SRB) vs [LL] J. Londero (ARG)

Not Before 2:00 pm
Second Round – [8] K. Krawietz (GER) / H. Tecau (ROU) or [WC] P. Tsitsipas (GRE) / S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs C. Garin (CHI) / G. Pella (ARG)
First Round – [Alt] A. Behar (URU) / G. Escobar (ECU) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL) / D. Goffin (BEL)
Second Round – R. Klaasen (RSA) / B. McLachlan (JPN) vs [5] R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR)

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Win Or Learn: Sinner Looking Forward To 'Good Test' Against Djokovic

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

Novak Djokovic spoke highly of #NextGenATP sensation Jannik Sinner during his pre-tournament press conference, saying the Italian has “got all the goods that he needs in order to become a champion”. On Tuesday, the Italian will get the chance to prove it against the World No. 1.

Sinner has passed many tests with flying colours during his young career. But his second-round clash against Djokovic at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will be one of his toughest tasks yet. The tournament debutant will try to stun the 36-time ATP Masters 1000 champion, and he’s excited for the opportunity.

“I will definitely have a game plan,” Sinner said. “I know who is on the other side. Obviously it’s a tough match I think from my side, because I don’t know him that well. [I have] seen him a lot on TV, watching matches. But when you play against [him] in a match, it’s different. I’m looking forward to that match.

“It’s a good test for my side to see where I am, especially where I can improve. I know where I can improve, but this kind of match can give me a lot. I just try to go there with the right mentality like in every match.”

Although this is their first ATP Head2Head clash, Sinner is not unfamiliar with Djokovic. They have trained together several times. The Italian’s coach, Riccardo Piatti, worked with the Serbian early in his career, and the teen even remembers the first time he practised with Djokovic.

“I remember we were here in Monaco, Monte-Carlo. I practised with him… I was definitely younger. We were playing in two [on ones] because I was a small kid,” Sinner said. “We only hit for one and a half hours, classic practice.”


Perhaps it’s fitting that they will now meet on the ATP Tour at the same venue: the Monte-Carlo Country Club. Djokovic has watched Sinner blossom in front of his eyes, and now he will try to hold him off with the rising star at a career-high No. 22 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“In that period of two, three years, when he was a junior coming up, we trained a lot actually in Piatti’s academy, here in Monaco, both [on] hard courts, clay courts,” Djokovic said. “I have seen his development, so to say, his trajectory, his road to where he is at the moment. It’s really impressive.”

Djokovic has not competed since winning his ninth Australian Open title in February. Sinner, fresh off making his first Masters 1000 final in Miami, doesn’t believe that gives him an edge, though.

“I think he has more experience than me, obviously. I don’t think that’s an advantage or not,” Sinner said. “I played today one match, which can give me a little bit [of] the feeling back on clay. I’m looking forward to a great battle, trying to play my tennis… then we will see what happens.”

The top-seeded Djokovic, who is pursuing a third title at this tournament, is certainly not taking the challenge lightly. The 33-year-old has watched Sinner quickly ascend, and the Italian can continue that climb with one of his biggest victories yet.

“Obviously there are a lot of the achievements that I’m sure he wants to achieve in his career as he’s pointing out. He’s very ambitious,” Djokovic said. “Playing [in the] final of Miami was obviously the highlight of his career so far. But I think he has been very consistent player, actually. He’s always playing [in] at least [the] quarters or semis of the 250s or 500s. He has been very impressive.

“It seems like he’s not satisfied with what he has achieved so far. He wants to do more, which is great to see there’s the hunger in him. We never faced each other in official match, so it would be definitely great to play him on clay, and let’s see what happens.”

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How Davidovich Fokina Found ‘Mental Calm’ In Berrettini Upset

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina scored the biggest victory of his career on Tuesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as he closed out eighth seed Matteo Berrettini 7-5, 6-3 to reach the third round.

Not only was it the 21-year-old Spaniard’s first victory at an ATP Masters 1000 clay-court event, it was Davidovich Fokina’s first win against a Top 10 player.

It was a long-awaited milestone for Davidovich Fokina, who went 0-4 last year in clashes with Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Zverev. The signs were already there, as Davidovich Fokina pushed both players to deciding sets in two of their contests.

“I’m very happy with this win. I’m very excited to defeat a Top 10 player,” Davidovich Fokina said in his post-match press conference. “Last year I faced a couple of Top 10 players and I came close, but I couldn’t close them out. But here I am improving every day, I’m playing better and better.

“I also knew that Matteo was coming back from an injury and he wouldn’t have a lot of rhythm. I was able to take advantage of that today.” 

Davidovich Fokina put in a measured and consistent performance to defeat the World No. 10. He claimed 73 per cent of points behind his strong first serve, and broke the Italian three times. Berrettini showed flashes of his best tennis, working his way back after a rib injury forced him to withdraw from the fourth round of the Australian Open. 

The Spaniard knew he had a big opportunity to pull off the upset with Berrettini contesting his first match since Melbourne. He was prepared to take his chances, something Davidovich Fokina admitted he has been working on. 

The No. 58-ranked player revealed that a change in mentality has helped him find the winning momentum that’s propelled him up the FedEx ATP Rankings. He has posted an 11-6 record after the Tour resumed in August 2020, including his first ATP Tour semi-final at Cologne (l. Zverev). 


“Before, I used to be a much more hyperactive and anxious person,” he admitted. “I wanted to finish every point in three shots, but when you evolve as a player you realise that tennis is not about winning in three shots. It’s about staying mentally calm and feeling stable. 

“You have to take advantage of your opportunities, but also acknowledge that there may be more opportunities to come if you can’t.” 

Davidovich Fokina will hope to continue capitalising on his chances as he awaits the winner of Lucas Pouille and Alexei Popyrin for a shot at his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.

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Herbert/Mahut Advance, Tsitsipas Brothers Save 2 M.P.

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut made a winning start to their Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title bid on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Simone Bolelli and Jannik Sinner.

The 2016 champions won 90 per cent of their first-serve points (28/31) to move past their Italian rivals in 75 minutes. Herbert and Mahut are attempting to capture their first title of the season in Monte-Carlo. The Frenchmen own a 7-3 team record in 2021.

In a match played across two days due to rain, Petros Tsitsipas and Stefanos Tsitsipas saved two match points to eliminate eighth seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau 7-6(4), 3-6, 11-9. Play resumed on Tuesday with the Tsitsipas brothers holding a 6-3 lead and, after dropping the second set, the Greeks were forced to save two match points from 7/9 in the match Tie-break to reach the next round.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury recovered from a set down to beat Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Rojer 4-6, 6-1, 10-8. The fifth seeds will next face Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan, who held their nerves to beat Alex de Minaur and John Peers 7-6(3), 3-6, 11-9.

Sixth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot also claimed their spot in the second round with a 7-6(2), 6-3 win against Adrian Mannarino and Benoit Paire.

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Tsitsipas Contains Karatsev In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas aced a tricky opening test at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Aslan Karatsev on Tuesday.

One break of serve in each set made the difference for the Greek  on Court Rainier III as he faced the Dubai titlist for the first time. Tsitsipas fired nine winners over an hour and 24 minutes as he claimed the first spot into the third round.

“I knew I had to face a difficult opponent today,” Tsitsipas said in his post-match interview. “Aslan has [had some] great results this year… I managed to push him back and attack with my forehand. Things worked out pretty well for me. 

“My clay court experience helps a lot to come back each year stronger, knowing that I have done better before. It was a very beautiful game out there and I enjoyed it.”

With the victory, the Greek improved to 18-5 on the season, having reached the quarter-finals or better at all five of his previous tournaments including a run to the championship match in Acapulco. Tsitsipas advanced to the third round in Monte Carlo for the second edition in a row, equalling his best result at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event.

“I’m putting [in] hours on the court, trying to become consistent [and] get close to the legends of our sport,” said Tsitsipas. “I am working every single day. I am very far from that, but it is definitely a dream of mine that I want to achieve one day.”

Tsitsipas awaits the winner of John Millman and 16th seed Cristian Garin for a spot in the quarter-finals. Garin defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in a rain-interrupted 7-6(3), 6-1 first-round clash, while the Aussie advanced after a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ugo Humbert.

Also in action, Norwegian Casper Ruud won a Scandinavian showdown against Danish wild card Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-2, 6-1, en route to the third round. Ruud will face seventh seed Diego Schwartzman next. Schwartzman leads their ATP Head2Head record 4-0.

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New Day, New Outcome For Garin Against Auger-Aliassime

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

Cristian Garin trailed Felix Auger-Aliassime 2-4 when the pair’s first-round match was suspended due to rain on Monday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. When the Chilean returned to the court on Tuesday, he raised his game to march into the second round.

The five-time ATP Tour clay-court titlist claimed 11 of the 14 games played on Tuesday and capitalised on 28 forehand unforced errors from Auger-Aliassime to record a 7-6(3), 6-1 win. Garin improved his record on clay this season to 5-1, highlighted by his title run at home at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago.

“The conditions were pretty different [from] yesterday,” Garin said in his post-match interview. “Yesterday, the court was pretty humid and today it was faster. I love these conditions. It is my favourite surface… These matches help me a lot to keep looking at the things I have to improve. I am very happy to be playing here in Monte-Carlo.”

The World No. 24 has regained the lead in his ATP Head2Head series against the #NextGenATP Canadian. Garin has won two of his three matches against Auger-Aliassime, with all three encounters contested on clay.

“I didn’t expect to play Felix in the first round. He is a great player with a really great future, so I am very happy with the way I played today,” Garin said. “I hope to keep improving. Most of the tournaments that I played this year were on clay, so I had more rhythm.”


Auger-Aliassime was making his first appearance under the guidance of new coaching team member Toni Nadal this week. The Canadian approached the Spaniard towards the end of 2020 and spent more than a week preparing for the 2021 ATP Tour season at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca. Auger-Aliassime opened the year with a run to the Murray River Open final (l. to Evans).

Garin will meet John Millman for a spot in the third round. The Aussie defeated Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-3 to start his Monte-Carlo campaign on Monday.

“[Millman] is a very solid player,” Garin said. “I saw his match yesterday [and] he played really well. He is a dangerous player. Every player here plays amazing.”

Singapore champion Alexei Popyrin recovered from a slow start to beat Pablo Andujar 0-6, 6-2, 7-6(3). The 21-year-old qualifier won 79 per cent of his first-serve points in the decider (15/19) to improve to 12-4 on the season.

Popyrin will meet French wild card Lucas Pouille in the second round. The former Top 10 star defeated Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4 to earn his second tour-level win of the year.

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ATP 250 To Be Held In Parma From 22-29 May

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

ATP has added an 250 clay-court tournament in late May following the one-week delay to the start of Roland Garros.

For the first time, Parma, in Italy’s North, will host an ATP Tour event. The Emilia-Romagna Open will be held from Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May, leading into the second Grand Slam tournament of the year in Paris.

The event, to be held in the heart of Emilia at the President Tennis Club of Montechiarugolo, is strongly supported by the Emilia-Romagna Region.

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images
Italy is experiencing a tennis boom, with 10 players inside the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. For the first time this November, the country will host the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin in the week following the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

MEF Tennis Events , which already runs ATP Challenger Tour events in Italy and abroad, will organise the event. It has already worked on events in the municipalities of Parma, Montechiarugolo and Forlì, which in the past two years have seen the triumphs of former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo, American Frances Tiafoe and #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

Any further updates to the ATP Tour calendar will be communicated in due course.

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Sinner Sets Djokovic Clash In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

In his first appearance since his runner-up finish at the Miami Open presented by Itau, Jannik Sinner claimed a debut win at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Tuesday to book a blockbuster meeting with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

The #NextGenATP Italian made a slow start to his first-round match, but he recovered quickly to defeat 2017 finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4 on Court des Princes. Sinner rallied from 0-2 in the first set and broke serve on three occasions to improve to 15-5 this season.

“I practised [for] three days on clay, which is not that much, knowing that [Ramos-Vinolas] played well in Marbella. He played a good tournament there… Maybe he was a little bit tired,” said Sinner.

“It’s always good for me to see what I can do on clay. Obviously, I am not in the best form on clay now for the first week. But I think today was a solid match from my side. It was not easy. He’s not giving [away] one point, so you have to stay there the whole match… I think I played a good match from my side.”

Sinner and Djokovic will meet for the first time on the ATP Tour in Monte-Carlo. Djokovic is competing for the first time since he captured a record-extending ninth Australian Open title in February.

Sinner is competing in only his fourth ATP Masters 1000 main draw this week. The Great Ocean Road Open champion recovered from a set down against Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut en route to the Miami championship match (l. to Hurkacz).

Sinner was one of five Italians to reach the second round on Tuesday. Defending champion Fabio Fognini moved past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 7-5 on Court Rainier III and there were also wins for Lorenzo Sonego, Marco Cecchinato and Salvatore Caruso.


Graphic courtesy Hawk-Eye Innovations/ATP Media

Sonego defeated Rotterdam runner-up Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 6-4 to extend his unbeaten record on clay this year to 5-0. Last week’s Cagliari singles and doubles champion (w/Vavassori) will meet Alexander Zverev in the second round.

Cecchinato converted five of his nine break points to beat German qualifier Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-3. Caruso trailed by a set and a break at 6-7(3), 2-3 when his match against Monegasque wild card Lucas Catarina was suspended on Monday. The Italian qualifier recovered well to defeat the home hope 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-3 in three hours and eight minutes.


“It’s difficult right now, but I can remember things I did during that match to keep improving,” said Catarina. “Maybe I can play other tournaments at a high level. I hope I will be able to win more matches.”

Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz needed three sets to complete his two-day encounter against Thomas Fabbiano on Court No. 2. The Pole, who led 6-3, 0-1 when play was suspended due to rain on Monday, saved seven of the nine break points he faced to beat the Italian qualifier 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

The 13th seed will meet Daniel Evans for a place in the third round. The British No. 1 overcame 2019 runner-up Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-7(11), 6-2 in another match played over two days. Evans was unable to convert two match points in a marathon 24-point second-set tie-break, but he quickly regained his composure in the decider to race to victory.

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Fognini Makes Winning Return

  • Posted: Apr 13, 2021

Two years on from the biggest title run of his career, Fabio Fognini made a successful return to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

The Italian opened play on Court Rainier III with a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Miomir Kecmanovic to reach the second round. Fognini fired 27 winners, compared to just four from Kecmanovic, to advance in 85 minutes.

“It was difficult coming here with a bit of pressure,” Fognini said in his post-match interview. “Last week was a really bad week for me, so I tried to change something in my game, especially mentally, because when I am feeling good, [my] tennis is going the perfect way.”

Rain had forced the majority of play to be cancelled on Monday, but the defending champion was welcomed onto court on Tuesday morning by perfect spring conditions in the Principality. Despite dropping serve in the opening game of the match, Fognini raced through the first set in 33 minutes.

The second set proved far more competitive, but Fognini made a late move to claim his 18th win in Monte-Carlo (18-10). With Kecmanovic serving at 5-6, the 33-year-old outmanoeuvred the Serbian in an extended baseline rally to earn three consecutive match points. Fognini attacked his opponent’s forehand to convert his second opportunity.

“The first round is always difficult,” said Fognini. “He was pushing the ball really hard from the baseline… I am happy about my victory today.”

En route to the title in 2019, Fognini claimed straight-sets wins against Alexander Zverev and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal. The Italian became the first player from his nation to lift an ATP Masters 1000 trophy with another straight-sets win against Dusan Lajovic in the championship match.


“It is really special because I was born here, I was born in Sanremo,” said Fognini. “I was practising here since I was 14 years old. I have a lot of memories here.”

Fognini will face Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the second round. Thompson outlasted Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(5) over three hours and three minutes in his first-round match on Sunday.

Ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut took just 75 minutes to beat Sardegna Open semi-finalist Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5. The Spaniard dropped only four points behind his first serve (25/29) to book another meeting against American opposition. Bautista Agut will face Tommy Paul in the second round.

Grigor Dimitrov converted all three break points he created to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-4. The 14th seed, who owns a 15-7 record in the Principality, will face Jeremy Chardy in his next match. The Frenchman dropped the second set of his match against Alexander Bublik 6-0, before he regained his form to defeat the Miami quarter-finalist 6-4, 0-6, 7-5.

Did You Know?
There are nine Italians in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters main draw this year. Since the inception of the ATP Masters 1000 series in 1990, this marks a tournament record. The only Masters 1000 event to feature more Italian players in the main draw was the 1993 Internazionali BNL d ‘Italia in Rome (10).

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