Sebastian Korda won the first ATP Tour title of his career with a straight-sets defeat of Marco Cecchinato in the Emilia-Romagna Open final on Saturday.

Korda became the first American man to be crowned a champion on clay in Europe for 11 years, beating the Italian wildcard 6-2 6-4 in Parma.

The unseeded 20-year-old son of former world number two Petr Korda did not drop a set this week and will head to the French Open with his confidence sky-high.

Korda won 82 per cent of points behind his first serve and broke three times to get the better of Cecchinato at the President Tennis Club.

The Florida native took just an hour and 15 minutes to become the first American man since Sam Querrey in Belgrade back in 2010 to win a title in Europe on this surface.

His victory ensured the Kordas are the third father-son duo to win ATP Tour-level singles titles in the Open Era, emulating Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan, and Phil Dent and Taylor Dent.

World number 63 Korda will face Spaniard Pedro Martinez in the first round at Roland Garros next week.

Novak Djokovic will head to the French Open on the back of claiming the singles title at the Belgrade Open after battling past Alex Molcan in the final.

The world number one did not have it all his own way against the world number 255, with the first set featuring just three service holds.

But Djokovic claimed four breaks to Molcan's three to take the opener and did not let his advantage slip in front of his home crowd.

He negotiated a similarly tricky second set to prevail 6-4 6-3, with attention now turning to the second grand slam of the year after Djokovic won the Australian Open back in January.

After a resilient performance in the first set as he twice came back from a break down, Djokovic was able to enjoy a slightly less frenetic path to victory in the second.

He broke down a more obdurate Molcan for a 4-2 lead, only for the Slovak to hit straight back.

But Djokovic was not to be denied and immediately claimed another break, which he consolidated to delight his adoring public.

Victory in what was Djokovic's first final on home soil since 2011 means he now has 83 ATP singles titles to his name, with three of them coming at this event.

It also caps a positive period of preparation for a tilt at a second French Open title, with Djokovic having reached the final in Rome this month only to lose to Roland Garros favourite Rafael Nadal.

Nadal and Djokovic could meet in the semi-finals this year in Paris, where the Serbian was thrashed by the King of Clay in three sets in the 2020 final.

Djokovic will start his campaign to add to his 2016 French Open success when he faces Tennys Sandgren in the first round.

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – a statement largely true until Rafael Nadal emerged on the scene and made the French Open his own.

Since breaking through for his first Roland Garros triumph in 2005, only three other men – Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic – have managed to interrupt Nadal's dominance in Paris.

Nadal has won 13 French Open men's singles titles, seven more than any other player in the Open era (Bjorn Borg, six) heading into this year's edition.

Despite being seeded third, it would take a brave person to bet against defending champion Nadal adding to his mammoth and unprecedented haul in the French capital, where the second grand slam of the year gets underway on Sunday.

On the women's side, defending champion Iga Swiatek is looking to follow in the footsteps of Belgian great Justine Henin.

As all eyes shift to Court Philippe Chatrier and its surroundings, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind this year's slam, using Opta data.

 

The 'King of Clay'

Nadal will open his title defence against Australian Alexei Popyrin. Since 2000, only Nadal (13) and Gustavo Kuerten (two) have won the French Open more than once.

The 34-year-old swept aside world number one Djokovic in straight sets last year for his fourth consecutive French Open crown and 20th slam trophy, equalling Roger Federer's all-time record. Nadal maintained his stranglehold on the major, having not dropped a set throughout the fortnight. Only three players have previously won the French Open without losing a single set: Ilie Nastase in 1973, Bjorn Borg in 1978 and 1980 and Nadal in 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020.

Nadal is the only player to have won the same slam more than 10 times. He has lost just two of the 102 matches played in Paris (excluding walkovers), losing to Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals, while has won each of the last 30.

The record for most slam titles on the men's circuit will also be up for grabs, with Nadal and the returning Federer seeking to snap their tie.

In the last 25 years, the number one seed has won the French Open on only five occasions – Nadal (2018, 2014 and 2011), Djokovic (2016) and Kuerten (2001). It does not bode well for top seed and 18-time major champion Djokovic, who is looking to close the gap on foes Nadal and Federer.

Australian Open champion Djokovic, who will face Tennys Sandgren in the first round, has reached the final in seven of the last 10 slams he contested, claiming six titles. However, the Serbian star has only featured in five French Open deciders (W1 L4) – fewer than in any of the other three major tournaments.

 

Declining Federer, Nadal challengers?

The French Open will be a welcome sight for tennis fans as Swiss great Federer, who has not played a slam since the 2020 Australian Open due to his troublesome knee and the coronavirus pandemic, makes his comeback.

Seeded eighth ahead of his opener against Denis Istomin, 2009 French Open champion Federer has only contested nine slam finals over the last 10 years (W4 L5) after reaching that stage in 22 major events in the previous decade (W16 L6). Since the beginning of 2016, the 39-year-old has only taken part in one French Open, in 2019, where he reached the semi-finals.

Daniil Medvedev has been flirting with a breakthrough slam triumph. The second seed is a finalist at the Australian Open (2021) and US Open (2019). Medvedev has reached the semi-finals in two of his most recent three appearances at a grand slam after going further than the fourth round in only one of his previous 13 major tournaments. However, the Russian has lost in the first round in each of his four Roland Garros appearances.

US Open champion and fourth seed Dominic Thiem has played two finals at Roland Garros (2018 and 2019) – more than in any other slam – but lost both of them against Nadal. He has won 80 per cent of his games at the French Open, his best win rate in any of the four majors.

Andrey Rublev is the only player to have taken part in the quarter-finals during each of the past three grand slams, including the 2020 French Open. But the seventh seed – who fired down 53 aces at Roland Garros last year, at least 14 more than any other player – is yet to progress further than that round.

Aslan Karatsev enjoyed a fairy-tale run at Melbourne Park in February, the Russian qualifier making it all the way to the semi-finals. Only one qualifier has reached the semi-final stage at the French Open: Filip Dewulf in 1997.

 

Iga in 14-year first?

Having never progressed beyond the fourth round of a major, Polish teenager Swiatek broke through for her maiden slam title via the French Open last year, upstaging Sofia Kenin.

The 19-year-old Swiatek – who will return as the eighth seed in her defence, starting against Kaja Juvan – could become the first woman to win consecutive titles at Roland Garros since Henin in 2005-2007 (three in a row). Only three players have won multiple titles in the women's tournament at the French Open in the 21st century: Henin (four), Serena Williams (three) and Maria Sharapova (two).

Swiatek could claim the French Open and Rome's Internazionali d'Italia in the same campaign. Only Serena Williams (2002 and 2013), Sharapova (2012), Monica Seles (1990), Steffi Graf (1987) and Chris Evert (1974, 1975 and 1980) have achieved the feat previously.

Swiatek celebrated slam glory in the absence of world number one and defending champion Ash Barty in 2020. No player has won more games on clay this season than Australian top seed Barty and Veronika Kudermetova (both 13).

Only Barty (three) has won more titles than third seed Aryna Sabalenka (two) in 2021 – the Belarusian is one of two players currently ranked in the top 20 in the WTA yet to reach a major quarter-final, alongside Maria Sakkari.

In a field also including four-time slam champion and reigning Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka – the second seed – Sabalenka could become only the third woman to win the Madrid Open and French Open in the same season after Serena Williams in 2013 and Sharapova in 2014.

As for fourth seed Kenin, she could be just the fourth American player to reach back-to-back Roland Garros finals, after Serena Williams (2015-16), Martina Navratilova (1984-1987) and Evert (1973-1975, 1979-80 and 1983-1986).

 

All eyes on Serena

The queen of WTA tennis for so long, Serena Williams is one slam success away from matching Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles championships. But the 39-year-old has been stuck on 23 since reigning supreme at the Australian Open in 2017.

While the French clay is not one of her favourite surfaces, it could be the scene of a remarkable achievement following a lengthy wait.

Roland Garros is where Williams has the lowest winning percentage (84 per cent) and where she won the fewest titles (three, at least half as many as the other slams).

Williams won her maiden French Open in 2002 and could hoist the trophy aloft 19 years after her first success in Paris. The longest span between two majors wins for a single player in the Open era is already held by Williams (15 years between 1999 and 2014 at the US Open).

Irina-Camelia Begu awaits the seventh seed in the first round.

Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the US Open, the Olympic Games, Indian Wells: this year's tennis calendar is not lacking in red-ringed dates.

But August 8 and September 26 are majorly notable in that they will mark the 40th birthdays of Roger Federer and Serena Williams, respectively.

Federer's birthday falls on the final day of the Tokyo Olympics, while Williams reaches the same landmark a fortnight after the US Open women's singles final.

Both have kept their future plans quiet, but it would come as no major surprise if one, or both, were to retire by the end of the year.

Fellow grand slam greats Venus Williams, Andy Murray and Kim Clijsters may also be a matter of months away from bowing out of the professional ranks.

Will life after tennis begin at 40 for Williams and Federer, or could the superstar pair return to the French Open in 2022?

Stats Perform looked at the players who may be considering their futures, what they still want to achieve, and their prospects of attaining those remaining goals.
 

Federer's final fling?

Ahead of his 30th, Federer was asked what it felt like to hit such a milestone.

"Birthdays happen. They're part of life," Federer said. "I'm happy I'm getting older. I'd rather be 30 than 20, to be honest. To me it's a nice time."

A decade on, Federer may be similarly equanimous about hitting 40. Family life is good, he'll never need to borrow a dollar, and he has advanced from 16 grand slams to 20.

But the knees would sooner be 30 than 40, and Federer, remarkable sportsman though he is, is coming to the end of the line in his tennis career. It will hurt the Fedfans to think so, but all the evidence points to it. We are probably witnessing a lap of honour.

Having won Roland Garros only once at his peak, we can surely forget the prospect of any heroics in Paris. Federer needs to win a few rounds though, in order to be sharp and battle-hardened for the grass season. Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open are events where you might give a fit Federer a chance, even at such a veteran age, but he has played only three matches since the 2020 Australian Open, losing two of those.

Target: Federer has never settled for second best, so he will want to be a tournament winner again, no doubt about it. The hunger does not go away after 20 grand slams, but it can be more difficult to sate.

Prospects: Slim, but not forlorn. So much of Federer's game is about feel and ease of movement, and assuming that knee surgery last year means the body is in good shape again, he should be able to call on those staples of his game. Key missing ingredients are the confidence that comes with beating rivals, and match fitness. Federer's 1,243 wins and 103 singles titles count for an awful lot still, and there could be one final hurrah before the Swiss great signs off.


Serena still one short of Court

From precocious teenager to queen of the tour, Williams' tennis journey has been a 25-year odyssey and there is nobody more driven to succeed than the great American.

It must be an intense frustration that she remains rooted on 23 grand slams, one short of Margaret Court's record haul, and the four grand slam final losses she has suffered while on that mark have been cruel blows.

As her 40th birthday approaches, it would not be a surprise if Williams reached that target, but what once felt inevitable now only has the air of being a possibility. She is becoming less of a factor when looking at title favourites, but Williams is still capable of beating top players, still a threat wherever she shows up.

Target: The 24th slam remains the must-have for Williams. Tour titles feel like an irrelevance, and Williams has won just one of those since January 2017, her calendar built around peaking for the majors since returning from giving birth to daughter Olympia.

Prospects: Beating Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep at the Australian Open demonstrated Williams still has the game for the big stage, and a semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka, to whom she has now lost in three of four encounters, should not particularly detract from that. Williams is playing on clay primarily to get in great shape for grass, because Wimbledon, where she plays the surface with a command that others can only envy, is where that elusive 24th slam looks most likely to come.


Amid losing streak, tennis waits to learn what Venus infers

Some suspect that the Williams sisters, having arrived on tour together, might bow out at the same time too. Venus has won 49 WTA Tour-level titles but has recently slipped out of the top 100 for the first time since early 2012. Ahead of turning 41 in June, it is hard to see her being a reliable force again.

The seven-time slam winner will be needing wildcards for the grand slams unless the wins start to flow, and naturally she should have no trouble getting those backdoor tournament entries, but for a player of her stature, losing in the first round most weeks can offer little satisfaction.

It is 21 years since Venus' greatest tennis summer, when she won the Wimbledon, Stanford, San Diego, New Haven, US Open and Olympics singles titles, along with doubles glory alongside Serena at the Olympics and Wimbledon.

Nevertheless, she said at the Australian Open in February: "I'm trying to get better every day. I think that no matter what happens to you in life, you always hold your head up high, you give a hundred million percent. That's what I do every single day. That's something that I can be proud of."

Target: Venus last won a singles slam in 2008, so forget that. A run to the second week of a slam is not entirely unimaginable, or she could stun a big name early on. Venus will want to wring every last drop from her career, but you suspect more than that, she would love to be there to watch her little sister win that 24th slam.

Prospects: Since a second-round exit to Elina Svitolina at the 2019 US Open, Venus has won only four matches at WTA level, and she is presently on a run of five consecutive defeats, which began with a 6-1 6-0 trouncing by Sara Errani at the last-64 stage of the Australian Open. Her last Wimbledon appearance resulted in a first-round loss to the then 15-year-old Coco Gauff two years ago, so even hopes of a resurgence at the event she has won five times appear somewhat remote.


We wish you a Murray summer

Once a grand slam nearly man, Murray banished that reputation with his US Open triumph and twin Wimbledon titles, not to mention the two Olympic gold medals, the Davis Cup victory, and the 14 Masters 1000 tournaments he won along the way, a big-time champion on every surface.

What a career, and it deserves a fitting ending. Murray is battling one injury after another and will miss the French Open, hoping his tired frame holds up to see him through Queen's Club, Wimbledon, the Olympic hat-trick bid and the US Open.

Target: He would probably say another slam is possible, if he can get healthy and stay that way. The 'if' there is doing an awful lot of heavy lifting though.

Prospects: Should Murray manage to stay injury-free, then it will be enthralling to see what he can achieve. However, since an unexpected title in Antwerp in October 2019, he has won just four matches on the ATP Tour and one in the Davis Cup. The resurfaced hip, the troublesome groin, the pains of being Andy Murray aged 34 are proving wearing on the Scot. If he is fit enough to feature at Wimbledon, it would be a joy to see him play even just one more great singles match on Centre Court. Admirers must hope Murray follows the pattern of his career by exceeding expectations, which are logically low.


Kim wildcard wonder?

If you missed the Clijsters comeback, it is hardly surprising, given she returned to the WTA tour after a near eight-year absence just weeks before the pandemic shut down tennis, and she has barely been seen since. The three-time US Open winner was dealt bum draws in her comeback year but gave Garbine Muguruza, Johanna Konta and Ekaterina Alexandrova enough to think about in the course of three first-round defeats.

Since losing behind closed doors in three sets to Alexandrova at the US Open, Clijsters has undergone knee surgery and had COVID-19, and she does not plan to play again until after Wimbledon.

Target: If Clijsters, who turns 38 in June, can build up form and fitness, then some kinder draws would be a fitting reward for persistence. She could have quietly called time on this comeback, but the former world number one is a fighter, and it would be fitting, perhaps, if her career were to end with a night session match in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Court at Flushing Meadows. The Belgian's intentions are not entirely clear, but that prospect must have crossed her mind.

Prospects: The New York wildcard would be assured if Clijsters can show she is in any sort of form, given her US Open history. Clijsters' immediate potential is entirely unclear, but she had the highest game-winning percentage (66.7 per cent) of any woman in World Team Tennis last year, and Jessica Pegula, Sofia Kenin and Jennifer Brady were all part of that competition. Bring that game to a major and we're talking.

Novak Djokovic survived a second-set fightback from Andrej Martin to seal his place in the final of the Belgrade Open on Friday.

The world number one looked well placed to cruise to victory after taking just 38 minutes to win the first set 6-1, but qualifier Martin hit back in the second to force a decider.

Djokovic swiftly regained composure, though, with a bagel settling the contest 6-1 4-6 6-0 in his favour, and he will now have the backing of his home crowd as he looks to clinch his third Belgrade Open title and warm up for the French Open in style.

"I'm super excited to play in front of a Serbian crowd. This is my home town," said Djokovic, who previously won at the event in 2009 and 2011.

"I'm always excited, but also nervous, coming out on the court and playing in front of my home crowd. It's a very unique feeling. You feel a lot of pressure and expectations. But I'm just happy to fight for a trophy.

"I thought I started and finished the match really well, so I'll try to take those positive feelings into tomorrow's final. I also had some letdowns in concentration towards the end of the second set, and I'll try to correct those mistakes for tomorrow."

Standing in the way of a second title of the season for 34-year-old Djokovic is another qualifier, Slovakian Alex Molcan, who came from behind to beat Federico Delbonis 4-6 6-4 6-4.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open, Sebastian Korda, who has yet to drop a set this week, triumphed in an all-American semi-final contest, beating Tommy Paul 6-3 6-3 to reach his second Tour-level final.

Korda's win sets up a final against Italian Marco Cecchinato, who is aiming for his fourth career singles title after overcoming Jaume Munar 7-6 (7-2) 1-6 6-1.

Rafael Nadal is not worried about being in the same half of the draw as fellow legends Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the French Open.

World number one Djokovic and Federer, eighth in the rankings, could meet at the quarter-final stage at Roland Garros, with a potential showdown with Nadal to come in the last four.

Defending champion Nadal says he is not looking beyond a first-round encounter with Alexei Popyrin in Paris, where he could move ahead of Federer by claiming a record 21st grand slam title.

The Spaniard said on Friday: "I see it as natural. One player is almost 40 [Federer], another is almost 35 [Nadal] and the other is 34 [Djokovic]. It seems logical that younger players climb in the rankings.

"Whenever that happens you have these consequences [with the seedings]. I see it as completely normal. I'm not worried about it. I have a lot of work in front of me to play a potential match versus Djokovic [in the semi-final].

"They would need to play each other and I have my own path. My path right now is Popyrin [in the first round] and that's where my mind is. My draw is hard enough to be thinking about anything else. I must continue my preparation, focus on my routines and keep advancing in the way we want."

Nadal on Thursday saw a statue of himself unveiled at Roland Garros, where has won 13 French Open titles and has a staggering record of 100 victories and two defeats.

He has won the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome and the Barcelona Open on clay this season but is braced for a tough start against 21-year-old Australian Popyrin.

Nadal said: "He's young, he has the power. He has big shots. As always, I need to be ready for it. I need to keep practising [during] the next couple of days and try to be in the best shape possible.

"I know every round is tough, I always respect every opponent. I respected everyone since the beginning of my career. And Popyrin is a dangerous one, so I need to play well and I'm looking forward to trying to make that happen.

Novak Djokovic felt he produced his best performance of the year in breezing past Federico Coria at the Belgrade Open for a milestone victory.

World number one Djokovic needed a little under an hour to beat Coria 6-1 6-0 on Thursday and set up a semi-final with Andrej Martin on home soil.

The victory moves the 34-year-old above Argentine great Guillermo Vilas for the fifth-most victories in the Open Era with 952.

He is 70 wins adrift of fourth-placed Rafael Nadal (1,022). Ivan Lendl (1,068) is third, behind Roger Federer (1,243), with Jimmy Connors holding the record of 1,274 wins.

Djokovic won 53 of the 75 points played against Coria and dropped just one game to remain on course for a third crown in Serbia ahead of the French Open.

"It was a great display," Djokovic said in his on-court interview. "It's probably one of the best matches, if not the best match, I played this year. I felt fantastic from the first point.

"It was the first time that I played against Coria and I tried to impose an aggressive style from the very beginning and not allow him to have too much time to play around. I played a phenomenal second set, really flawless.

"It's not always possible to play like this. But I think this definitely helps me feel better on the court. I think everything worked perfectly for me today."

Martin awaits Djokovic in the last four after the world number 119 recovered from a set down to beat Dusan Lajovic 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Alex Molcan remains in the hunt for a shock triumph in Belgrade, meanwhile, after beating Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-0 to set up a showdown with Federico Delbonis.

Eighth seed Delbonis advanced to his second semi-final of the season following Roberto Carballes Baena's withdrawal through illness.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, Sebastian Korda eliminated Yoshihito Nishioka to set up an all-American semi-final with Tommy Paul, who took down Jan-Lennard Struff with a 6-2 6-4 victory.

Richard Gasquet was another seeded player to fall as he lost 6-1 6-1 to Jaume Munar, with the Spaniard now set to take on Italian wild card Marco Cecchinato – a straight-sets winner against lucky loser Norbert Gombos – for a place in the final.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could meet at the semi-final stage of the French Open, while Iga Swiatek and Ash Barty are in the same half of the draw.

Nadal will start his quest to win the Paris grand slam a staggering 14th time with a first-round encounter against Australian Alexei Popyrin next week.

Defending champion Nadal, the third seed, is in the same half of the draw as fellow all-time greats Djokovic and Federer, who could face the Serbian world number one in the last eight.

Top seed Djokovic, who is two major titles shy of the record of 20 held by Federer and Nadal, will take on Tennys Sandgren in the first round.

Swiss great Federer will come up against a qualifier in round one at Roland Garros, while two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem is up against Pablo Andujar.

Pole Swiatek claimed her maiden grand slam title at the French Open last year and takes on her close friend Kaja Juvan in the first round.

World number one Barty, who did not travel to Paris to defend her title in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has will make her return at the clay-court major against Bernarda Pera.

Serena Williams comes up against Irina-Camelia Begu, while last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin must do battle with the 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko in a standout first-round match.

Carla Suarez Navarro can expect plenty of support when she takes on Sloane Stephens in her first tournament since successfully completing cancer treatment.

Gael Monfils missed out on a place in the Belgrade Open quarter-finals as the second seed was stunned by qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

World number 15 Monfils would have been expected to breeze through against Carballes Baena, whose lone ATP title came back in February 2018.

But Monfils was trounced in the first set and, despite coming back from a break down to win the second, he could not avoid a shock loss as Carballes Baena reversed a 4-1 deficit in the decisive tie-break on Wednesday.

Carballes Baena's triumph sets up a last-eight clash with eighth seed Federico Delbonis, who beat Thiago Monteiro 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-4 at the ATP 250 event in Serbia.

Dusan Lajovic also moved through to the quarters after easing past Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-4, with Andrej Martin the fifth seed's opponent after upsetting third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 4-6 7-6 (7-4).

Elsewhere, top seed Lorenzo Sonego suffered a second-round exit at the Emilia-Romagna Open as Sebastian Korda claimed a surprise win.

Korda entered the tournament with just one clay-court win to his name in 2021 but followed up a first-round success over Andreas Seppi with a 6-1 7-5 defeat of Sonego.

Yoshihito Nishioka is his next opponent after the Japanese saw off Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-2.

Jaume Munar and Richard Gasquet also progressed, as did Jan-Lennard Struff, Norbert Gombos, Marco Cecchinato and Tommy Paul.

 

Novak Djokovic celebrated putting his name into "another history record book" after his victory over Mats Moraing at the Belgrade Open.

Djokovic's 6-2 7-6 (7-4) triumph on Tuesday set up a quarter-final tie against Federico Coria, and put the world number one level with Argentine great Guillermo Vilas for the fifth-most match wins in the Open Era (951).

It was his 17th win of the season, as the 34-year-old looks to prepare for the French Open with a third title success in his home tournament.

"With this win I managed to put my name in another history record book," Djokovic said following his victory.

"Obviously being in the same conversation with Vilas and the legends and greats of our game, it makes me really fulfilled and very joyful."

Djokovic has some way to go to make it into the top four on the all-time list, however.

He is 71 wins adrift of Rafael Nadal (1,022), who sits fourth. Ivan Lendl (1,068) is third, behind Roger Federer (1,243), who still has Jimmy Connors' record of 1,274 Open Era wins in his sights.

Despite a tight start, Djokovic got away from Moraing by winning four straight games.

Moraing hit back in set two to force a tie-break, but his illustrious opponent had too much quality.

"I was twice a break up in the second set so I maybe could have finished out the job earlier, but credit to him for fighting, for playing really well, for playing very courageous, very bold tennis," Djokovic said.

After turning 34 on Saturday, Djokovic received a bye to the second round of the Belgrade Open. He lost in the semi-finals of the Serbian Open last month, and came into this event on the back of a defeat to Nadal in the Rome Masters final.

Next up is Coria, who defeated Pablo Cuevas 6-3 6-2, though Djokovic's compatriot Pedja Krstin dropped out, crushed 6-0 6-0 by Slovakian Alex Molcan.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, fifth seed Richard Gasquet defeated Daniel Altmeier 6-3 6-3, while Sebastian Korda defeated Andreas Seppi to tee up a tie with top seed Lorenzo Sonego. 

Lorenzo Musetti claimed his 13th tour-level win of 2021 by overcoming Gianluca Mager, and the Italian's reward is a meeting with Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat Sam Querrey.

Federico Coria and Jeremy Chardy, along with Serbian Pedja Krstin, progressed into the second round in Belgrade on Sunday.

Coria came from a set down to win 4-6 6-2 6-0 in the first-round match in the Serbia Open against ATP Tour debutant Marko Topo.

Chardy overcame Tennys Sandgren 6-4 6-2. The Frenchman started the season well, and managed two semi-final runs, but has been out of form in recent competitions and was knocked out in the first round at the Madrid Masters earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Pedja Krstin made home advantage count against Kwon Soonwoo.

The trio will be joined in the second round by top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic, who received a first-round bye and is in the hunt for his third title in Belgrade.

At the Parma Open, American Tommy Paul reeled off a 7-5 6-4 win over Stefano Travaglia, and Flavio Cobolli beat Marcos Giron 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4).

Stefanos Tsitsipas teed himself up for the French Open in dominant fashion as he claimed his second title of 2021 with a straight-sets win over Cameron Norrie at the Lyon Open. 

Tsitsipas looked sharp throughout the week in central France and was in clinical form on Sunday, pouncing on some minor mistakes from Norrie to triumph 6-3 6-3. 

Norrie was by no means an easy opponent, but five double faults handed Tsitsipas an edge he duly made the most of. 

This year's Monte Carlo champion had to claw back three break points in the opening game of the match but was firmly in control from then on. 

A break to make it 5-3 enabled the Greek to serve for the first set – an opportunity he took at the first time of asking – and another clinical break put him 4-3 up in set two.  

Tsitsipas' third and final break came on the second match point on offer, with Norrie overhitting a forehand to seal the world number five's 33rd Tour win of the season.  

Having dropped just one set throughout his run this week, Tsitsipas will now switch focus to Roland Garros, where he reached the semi-finals in 2020.  

"I felt in a good shape from the beginning of the tournament, felt like things were going my way," he said in a post-match interview.  

"I'm proud of today's match. I knew it would be a difficult one against Cameron who has played great this week, winning against good players and showing what his left hand can do on clay. I had to handle the nerves and I'm proud of my performance and the way I stayed focused.  

"It's about getting there [Paris] as early as possible, getting in practice and getting in shape for the big Parisian grand slam which I adore and love. Hopefully, something good can come out of it." 

Rising star Casper Ruud continued his impressive 2021 with a straight-sets win over Denis Shapovalov in the Geneva Open final to win his second career title.

The world number 21 prevailed 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in the first top-level meeting between the two players to add to the Argentina Open crown won – also on clay – in February 2020.

Ruud did not face a single break point in the match, which lasted an hour and 40 minutes, and needed only one break conversion himself to see off second seed Shapovalov.

"It's tough to find all the words," said Ruud, who has a 15-4 record on clay this year. 

"It was such an amazing week here in Geneva. I was always looking forward to coming to this tournament.

"I watched it on TV for many years when I was younger and it always seemed like a nice place, so I guess I know why I wanted to come here.

"It's been going well and this week has been unbelievable for me."

Looking to lay down a marker ahead of the upcoming French Open, where he reached the third round last year, third seed Ruud took little time to get going against Shapovalov.

However, the first set went the way of the serve to set up a tie-break, which the Norwegian eventually took with his fifth set point after Shapovalov won four points in a row.

Shapovalov was competing in his third tour-level final after winning the Stockholm Open and losing in the Paris Masters final in 2019, but he struggled to break his opponent.

Ruud earned a break in the fifth game of the second set and saw the job through to keep his momentum going ahead of the second grand slam of the year.

Asked about his aims for Roland Garros, Ruud said: "Well, it's the toughest clay court tournament of the year.

"This season I am playing well on the clay and I'm looking forward to Paris. I hope I can make the second week, that's all I can say.

"If I'm in the second week I will be very happy of course."

Lyon Open top seed Dominic Thiem was stunned in straight sets by Cameron Norrie in the last 16 on Thursday for the "biggest win" of the Briton's career.

Thiem was handed a bye to this stage and fell at the first hurdle on a day of upsets, the world number four sending down four double faults and losing serve three times as he lost 6-3 6-2.

Norrie now has 10 victories on clay in 2021, compared to seven before this year, and will face qualifier Arthur Rinderknech – a surprise 6-7(7) 6-2 7-5 winner against Jannik Sinner – in the quarters.

"I'm so pleased to win. It's the biggest win of my career and my highest-ranked win," Norrie, who had never previously beaten a top-five opponent, said in his on-court interview. 

"It's such a beautiful day in Lyon. I couldn't be happier to get the win today and to get another match on the clay before Roland Garros."

Third seed Diego Schwartzman also exited the competition on Thursday with a 6-3 7-5 defeat to Richard Gasquet, who eased over the line despite letting two match points slip.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is now the strong favourite to triumph in France after starting his campaign with a convincing 6-1 6-4 victory over Tommy Paul.

Yoshihito Nishioka upset Gael Monfils 4-6 6-3 7-6(2) in an impressive comeback victory and now awaits Tsitsipas in the last eight.

At the Geneva Open, rising star Casper Ruud kept his momentum going with a 2-6 6-1 6-4 win over Dominik Koepfer to make it 12-4 on clay this season.

Ruud recovered from a sloppy first set by holding his serve in the following two sets to reach his fourth successive clay court semi-final on the ATP Tour.

Next up for the third seed is a meeting with Pablo Andujar, who beat youngster Dominic Stephan Stricker 4-6 6-4 6-4.

Elsewhere, Laslo Djere overcame Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-7(2) 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals and will face Denis Shapovalov later on Thursday after the Canadian recovered from a set down to beat Marco Cecchinato 6-7 7-5 6-1.

The winner of that match will meet Pablo Cuevas, the Uruguayan having ended Grigor Dimitrov's run with a battling 7-6 6-3 win.

Jannik Sinner fought back to claim victory in a thrilling battle with Aslan Karatsev at the Lyon Open, where David Goffin crashed out.

Sinner lost to Karatsev in Dubai earlier this year but recovered from a dreadful start to win 0-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 32 minutes.

There were seven breaks of serve in a thrilling encounter between two players bidding for an ATP Finals spot as Karatsev – who has beaten Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev this year – was ultimately defeated.

"It was tough," said Sinner. "He is a great player, especially this year with some big results. 

"I dug deep and I am happy to have won. It is definitely good to have the support of the crowd in order to come back from Aslan's fast start."

Lorenzo Musetti followed up his impressive opening round win over Felix Auger Aliassime by defeating Sebastian Korda on Wednesday.

But it was a bad day for fourth seed Goffin as he suffered a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 loss to Aljaz Bedene, who will now take on Musetti.

Karen Khachanov saw off Kamil Majchrzak in straight sets and he will play the winner of Diego Schwartzman v Richard Gasquet, a match which has been rescheduled for Thursday due to rain.

At the Geneva Open, third seed Casper Ruud won 7-5 6-2 against Tennys Sandgren.

Rising star Ruud – who only gave up one break point – has now reached six consecutive quarter-finals on the ATP Tour and will face Dominik Koepfer in the last eight.

Fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov was a 6-4 6-4 winner over Ilya Ivashka, while second seed Denis Shapovalov is scheduled to play Marco Cecchinato in the last match of the day.

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