Nadal Opens Clay-Court Campaign In Monte-Carlo

Rafael Nadal (photo: Monte Carlo Rolex Masters)

MONTE CARLO, April 17, 2019

Rafael Nadal headlined Wednesday’s second round action at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, as the 11-time champion opened his clay-court season in the Principality of Monaco against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.

The World No. 2 has shown a remarkable return to the courts for the first time since pulling out of the Indian Wells semi-final with a right knee injury on 16 March. Nadal eased past Bautista Agut, winning 6-1, 6-1. The 32-year-old from Mallorca saved all five break points he faced, converting five of his own eight chances to advance in one hour and 16 minutes.

“This is just the first match. [It has] been a very positive start,” Nadal was quoted on the ATP Tour website. “The result says that. And the feeling on court, too… I just started well. It’s the first match in almost a year on this surface. But, of course, a start like this helps.”

It was Nadal’s 16th straight match win in Monte Carlos, improving to a career record of 69-4. Up next for the king of clay will be Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who defeated German Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(2), 6-4 in just under two hours of play.

“Tomorrow is another good test against Grigor, so let’s see,” said Nadal. “I need to play well again.”

Zverev, Thiem advance – Nishikori falls

Earlier in the day, Alexander Zverev of Germany converted six of seven break points en route to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada. The No. 3 seed will next take on Fabio Fognini of Italy, who advanced to third round by walkover versus Gilles Simon. The Frenchman was forced to withdraw from the match due to a back injury.

Dominic Thiem remained untroubled in his match against Martin Klizan from Slovakia. The No. 4 seed from Austria didn’t face a break point, capitalizing on four of his own opportunities to seal a 6-1, 6-4 victory in one hour and 24 minutes.

Thiem will next meet Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, who defeated 2017 semi-finalist David Goffin 6-3, 6-4 from Belgium in one hour and 28 minutes.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert earned his first career Top 10 win on clay with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over last year’s Monte Carlo finalist and No. 6-ranked Kei Nishikori from Japan. Herbert sent down seven aces, saving all 10 break points he faced to prevail after one hour and 42 minutes. Herbert will next face Borna Coric from Croatia.

“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,” Herbert was quoted on the ATP Tour website.

“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.”

Further Results

[6] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) def. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-3, 7-5
[10] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) def. Radu Albot (MDA) 6-1, 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) def. Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-6(3), 6-3
Taylor Fritz (USA) def. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-4, 6-2