Rafael Nadal.and Stefanos Tsitsipas will do battle for the Barcelona Open title on Sunday after both cruised into the final in straight sets.

Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3 6-2 to stand on the brink of being crowned champion for a 12th time at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona 1899.

The top seed won 77 per cent of points on his first serve and returned superbly in yet another sublime clay-court exhibition.

Nadal broke Carreno Busta in his compatriot's first service game and ominously charged into a 5-1 lead in imperious fashion on Pista Rafael Nadal.

Carreno Busta broke back to prolong the opening set, but the 20-time grand slam champion wrapped it up in 45 minutes before swiftly taking charge of the second.

The world number three breezed into a 4-0 advantage and did not face a solitary break point as he took just shy of an hour and a half to set up a showdown with Tsitsipas, who knocked him out of the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage in February.

Tsitsipas maintained his magnificent form with a 6-3 6-3 defeat of Jannik Sinner.

The in-form Greek won the Monte Carlo Masters last weekend and matched Andrey Rublev's ATP tour-leading total of 26 victories this season by steering past Sinner.

Second seed Tsitsipas has won all 17 sets he has played on clay this season, having saved all four break points that Sinner earned.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal each continued to advance in ATP Tour tournaments in their home countries on Friday.

Djokovic reached the semi-finals of the Serbia Open with a 6-1 6-3 defeat of fellow home hopeful Miomir Kecmanovic.

The world number one has looked at ease this week, after his return to action last week for the first time since the Australian Open saw a shock defeat to Dan Evans in Monte Carlo.

Djokovic will face Aslan Karatsev in the last four after the Russian saw off Gianluca Mager with a confident 6-3 6-4 win.

"I'm feeling very well on court, moving well, hitting the ball well and, of course, enjoying the home-court advantage," Djokovic said.

"So, I'm really excited to go out in the semi-finals on the court again tomorrow."

Having beaten Kecmanovic, who he said "has the potential to go far", Djokovic is the last remaining Serbian in the competition after Matteo Berrettini beat Filip Krajinovic.

Nadal, Djokovic's great rival, has also returned to form after dropping sets in consecutive matches earlier in the week.

His Barcelona Open progress was secured with a swift 6-1 6-4 quarter-final win over Cameron Norrie on Pista Rafa Nadal.

Nadal next takes on Pablo Carreno Busta after his 6-4 3-6 7-5 win over Diego Schwartzman, while second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas went through on the other side of the draw after a 6-3 6-3 win against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The semi-final opponent for Monte Carlo champion Tsitsipas will be the impressive teenager Jannik Sinner, though, rather than world number seven Andrey Rublev.

The 19-year-old Miami Open finalist won in straight sets against Rublev, breezing through the opener 6-2 and then fighting to see out the second 7-6 (8-6), saving a set point with the first of three consecutive points that sealed the match.

Rafael Nadal fended off Kei Nishikori to reach the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open along with the in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday.

Top seed Nadal secured an opening-set bagel in just 30 minutes, but Nishikori hit back to force a decider before the 20-time grand slam champion prevailed 6-0 2-6 6-2.

Nishikori hit only three winners as he was blown away in the first set, but broke twice in the second to ensure Nadal was taken to three sets in back-to-back matches for the first time in this tournament – having overcome Ilya Ivashka in the second round.

The world number three saved three break points from 0-40 down in the final set and Nishikori saw another two come and go, with a more clinical Nadal breaking twice to advance.

Nadal will now face unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie, who also won the first set 6-0 and was 5-3 down to David Goffin in the second when the Belgian retired due to a leg injury.

Newly-crowned Monte Carlo Masters champion Tsitsipas defeated Alex de Minaur 7-5 6-3, stretching his straight-sets winning streak to seven matches.

Next up for the second seed is a meeting with Felix Auger-Aliassime, who beat fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-2 6-3, while Jannik Sinner beat Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (11-9) 6-2.

Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman and Pablo Carreno Busta also made it through.

Two seeds fell in the Serbia Open, with Federico Delbonis taking out Dusan Lajovic 6-3 2-6 6-4 and Taro Daniel defeating John Millman 3-6 6-2 6-3.

Gianluca Mager moved into the quarter-finals at the expense of Alexei Popyrin and Aslan Karatsev battled past Aljaz Bedene 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-5) in Belgrade.

Novak Djokovic thought he was "pretty flawless" in his first match of the Serbia Open, but Rafael Nadal was given a scare in his clash with qualifier Ilya Ivashka at the Barcelona Open.

World number one Djokovic suffered a shock third-round exit to Dan Evans at the Monte Carlo Masters last week but ruthlessly dispatched Kwon Soon-woo 6-1 6-3 in his home city of Belgrade.

Djokovic broke his opponent five times to set up a meeting with eighth seed and fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who battled past qualifier Arthur Rinderknech in three sets, in the quarter-finals.

"I thought it was a pretty flawless performance," Djokovic said. "I moved well, I was mixing up the pace quite well, making him play. I served well in the important moments, [and] overall I just felt great."

On playing in front of his family and friends, the two-time Serbia Open champion added: "It gives you an extra push, an extra motivation, energy to really give your best and leave it all out on the court.

"I think also that made me feel comfortable and confident on the court and I played really good. I'm really pleased with the quality of tennis."

Second seed Matteo Berrettini defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-3 and will face either Filip Krajinovic or Nikola Milojevic in the last eight of the clay-court tournament.

Over in Barcelona, Nadal – an 11-time champion at the event – was out to make a statement after a rare defeat on the dirt to Andrey Rublev in Monte Carlo.

But the 'King of Clay' needed two hours and 20 minutes to fight back against the unheralded Ivashka 3-6 6-2 6-4 to reach the round of 16, where he will face Kei Nishikori. Nadal is now 62-4 at a tournament where he once won 41 straight matches.

Second seed and Monte Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas hammered Jaume Munar 6-0 6-2, while third seed Rublev - runner-up to the Greek on Sunday - joined Pablo Carreno Busta (6) and Alex De Minaur (14) in making it through.

Evans was unable to follow up his run in Monte Carlo with the 16th seed beaten by Corentin Moutet in a lengthy three-setter, while Fabio Fognini (9) was defaulted for unsportsmanlike conduct after verbally abusing a line official when trailing 6-4 4-4 to Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles.

Jannik Sinner set up a clash with Roberto Bautista Agut at the Barcelona Open as he vowed to keep making progress after cracking the top 20 for the first time.

Italian 19-year-old Sinner is a fast-rising new star of the men's game and now has a ranking to match his age. However, he was put in his place by Novak Djokovic last week in Monte Carlo, before the world number one was himself dealt a jolting defeat by Dan Evans.

Sinner sped past Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in the first round in Barcelona on Tuesday, winning 6-3 6-2, and it will be wily world number 11 Bautista Agut who stands in his way of going deeper into the tournament.

In two meetings on hard courts this season, Sinner has edged out 33-year-old Spaniard Bautista Agut in tight deciding sets, and now they face a reunion on clay.

"He lost in Dubai against me, he lost in Miami against me, now we play once more here, so it's quite a small period of time," said Sinner.

"We're playing now our third match already, so it's going to be a very tough match. He is very, very solid. I never played against him on clay. I'm trying to be ready in the best possible way."

Bautista Agut barged past fellow Spanish player Pablo Andujar, scoring a 6-4 6-0 win.

Sinner was proud to enter the ATP top 20 this week but sees it as just a step on his journey, saying: "Obviously it's a good number, but for me at the moment not that important."

He added, quoted on the ATP website: "[I'm] just trying to improve day after day with my team and trying to improve as a player and the ranking is what it is. I'm happy to be top 20 player but the road is long so a lot of work to do."

Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Lorenzo Musetti and Frances Tiafoe, who fought off 17-year-old Spanish prospect Carlos Alcaraz, were also among Tuesday's winners in Barcelona.

Star turn Djokovic begins his campaign at the Serbia Open on Wednesday when he tackles Kwon Soon-woo, with the 18-time grand slam winner having received a first-round bye.

Tuesday's play in Belgrade saw wins for, among others, Federico Delbonis, Aljaz Bedene and Miomir Kecmanovic.

Rafael Nadal's bid to win a 12th Monte Carlo Masters title got off to an emphatic start as the Spaniard swept Federico Delbonis aside after Novak Djokovic had also booked his passage to the third round.

Nadal, 34, has won the competition more times than anyone else in its history and looked in good shape as he returned to the court for the first time since losing to Stefano Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarter-finals on February 17.

He needed just 81 minutes to get past the Argentinian qualifier 6-1 6-2 as he improved his record in the tournament to 72-5, breaking Delbonis' serve five times and only dropping his own once.

He is not getting carried away, however, with Grigor Dimitrov likely to provide a sterner test in the next round after beating Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

"It was solid match, I think. Of course, a very positive result. He's a good player on clay. [It was a] positive start for me," Nadal said in his post-match interview.

"I think I just really played a solid match. Nothing unbelievable, but nothing wrong. Just a solid match, a positive start. I think I did what I had to do."

On Dimitrov, Nadal added: "We've had some great matches. In Melbourne, of course... we played another great match in Beijing, another one in Shanghai. He's a good friend, a good guy, and a great player. It's going to be a tough test in my second round.

"It's going to be his third. I need to be ready for it. I hope to be ready for it. I am just excited to play a tough match very early in the tournament."

A little earlier in the day, world number one Djokovic was in a similarly unforgiving mood as he overcame the potentially tricky obstacle of Jannik Sinner, the Serbian and two-time Monte Carlo champion winning 6-4 6-2.

Like Nadal, Djokovic was back in action for the first time since the Australian Open – which he won – and appeared fresh as he gave the promising young Italian something of a lesson in game management, reaching 10 matches unbeaten at the start of a season for the sixth time.

"It feels great [to be back and] also playing in Monaco, where I reside," Djokovic said. "I have used this club as a training base for almost 15 years, so it feels like playing at home."

Despite the rather commanding nature of his win, Djokovic was keen to pay tribute to the 19-year-old Sinner, adding: "It was a very good encounter. I thought it was a great first match [and] a big challenge for me. Jannik is in form. He played the final [in] Miami and has been playing well. I just hung in there today and managed to find the right shots and the right game at the right time.

"He has got a lot of talent and he has proven that he is the future of our sport. Actually, he is already the present of our sport. He played a final [in an] ATP Masters 1000 [tournament] already. He is making big strides in professional tennis."

Dan Evans awaits Djokovic after an impressive 6-4 6-1 win over Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz, while Alexander Zverez and Andrey Rublev – the fifth and sixth seeds – moved into the next round with respective straight-set victories over Lorenzo Sonego and Salvatore Caruso.

There were mixed fortunes for the other two top-10 seeds in action on Wednesday, as Pablo Carreno-Busta defeated Karen Khachanov 6-2 6-3, but Diego Schwartzman was sent packing by Casper Ruud, the Norwegian winning 6-3 6-3.

Novak Djokovic will tackle teenage rising star Jannik Sinner for the first time in a tantalising clash of tennis generations on Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters.

World number one Djokovic is returning to action this week, having taken time away from the tour since banking an 18th grand slam title by winning the Australian Open in February.

He received a first-round bye, but waiting for him in the last 32 is Sinner, who on Tuesday saw off 2017 Monte Carlo runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 6-4, again illustrating the 19-year-old Italian's great potential.

World number 22 Sinner is the only teenager ranked inside the top 80 in the men's game and is coming off his first run to a Masters final, at the Miami Open.

The switch from hard courts to clay is one that Sinner is having to deal with, and seeing off a specialist on the surface in round one represents an impressive start, although facing two-time former champion Djokovic will be a step up.

"It's always good for me to see what I can do on clay," Sinner said, quoted on the ATP website. "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."

Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last 16 with a 6-3 6-4 win over Russian Aslan Karatsev, but there was disappointment at the same stage for Italian eighth seed Matteo Berrettini, beaten 7-5 6-3 by Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Those were the only second-round matches of the day.

Surprise Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz made a winning start, battling to a 6-3 3-6 6-3 first-round success against Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano to reach round two.

Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta and Fabio Fognini each booked places in round two thanks to straight-sets wins.

Qualifier Federico Delbonis was a 7-5 6-1 victor over France's Adrian Mannarino, meaning the Argentinian faces the ultimate test in clay-court tennis next, a tussle with Rafael Nadal, the 11-time former champion in Monte Carlo.

Nadal has won all four of their previous matches, and their fifth encounter will immediately follow the Djokovic-Sinner match on Wednesday.

Hubert Hurkacz made history after trumping Jannik Sinner in the Miami Open final for his first ATP 1000 title.

Hurkacz became Poland's first ATP 1000 champion thanks to his 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over teenage sensation Sinner in Miami on Sunday.

Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, fourth seed Andrey Rublev, sixth seed Denis Shapovalov and 12th seed Milos Raonic were all upstaged by Hurkacz en route to the decider.

Hurkacz – the 26th seed – capped his memorable run with an impressive win against 19-year-old Italian and occasional doubles partner Sinner following one hour, 45 minutes on court.

Set to break into the ATP Tour's top 20 for the first time in his career, moving from 37 to a career-high 16th in the world, Hurkacz became the fourth player to win his first ATP 1000 trophy via the Miami Open since 1990 – following in the footsteps of John Isner (2018), Novak Djokovic (2007) and Andre Agassi (1990).

"I played [some] of the best tennis I've ever played," Hurkacz, who converted seven of 11 break-point chances against ATP 1000 finals debutant Sinner, said.

"I was solid throughout the whole tournament, and I was able to get through each round, [and] was even more pumped for the next round. I think that's something special for me.

"My tennis is getting better. We work hard with my coach, [Craig Boynton], and I'm super happy that it happened here. We still need to improve a couple of things and just try to get better each day."

Hurkacz became the first player this ATP Tour season to win two titles, having already claimed the Delray Beach Open.

The 24-year-old added: "Last year I spent so much time in Florida. I was here like almost half of the year.

"We were working pretty hard, and I think I'm used to the conditions. I think [that's] been part of the success I had here in Florida."

Hubert Hurkacz has recorded back-to-back top 10 wins to move a step closer to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy with a hard-fought straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev at the Miami Open on Friday night.

The 26th seeded Pole knocked off in-form fourth seed Rublev 6-3 6-4 to book a spot in Sunday's final where he will play teenage 21st seed Jannik Sinner who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut earlier in the day.

The 24-year-old from Wroclaw had beaten second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals and continued that strong form by never allowing Rublev to settle into his game.

"It means a lot, especially after winning a title at the beginning of the year, I had a couple of rough matches," Hurkacz said in his on-court interview, referring to his January win at the Delray Beach Open in Florida.

"I’m so happy that I came over and I was still trying to improve my game and trying to be a better player. This is really huge for me."

The 23-year-old Russian had won 16 matches this calendar year including taking out last month's Rotterdam Open.

Rublev had also not lost a set all tournament and only been broken twice, yet Hurkacz broke serve three times.

The Pole also hit 25 winners and showed determination under pressure, when Rublev had a break point at 5-4 in the second set, before saving it in an epic rally and winning the game to secure the match.

World number eight Rublev said: "Today was not my day. Hurkacz played really well and he deserved to win… Now it's time to go back to work hard to be ready for the clay season."

"It’s [been a] great week for me. I did my first semis [at an ATP Masters 1000]. I'm playing really consistent. Every week I go deep in the tournament."

Sinner, 19, won a three-set match against Bautista Agut to book his spot in the decider earlier on Friday.

The young Italian world number 31 and Hurkacz know each other well.

"We played doubles together last week in Dubai,"Hurkacz said. "Now we’re playing in the final of a Masters 1000 event, so it’s going to be a fun match."

Jannik Sinner followed in the footsteps of three all-time tennis greats as he became the fourth teenager in history to reach a men's singles final at the Miami Open.

The 19-year-old Italian hit three huge backhand winners to break serve in the final game as he pulled off a 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut in their last-four clash.

It means Sinner matches Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - players who went on to be ranked number one in the world - in becoming a finalist at the Masters 1000 tournament while still in his teens.

The hotly tipped world number 31 will contest a final at this level for the first time in his career on Sunday, awaiting the winner of the second semi-final between Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz.

Sinner said of his feat: "It sounds incredible. I'm very, very happy about today because obviously being the first semi-final it's not easy to play, especially on a Masters event, and playing against a very, very solid player in Roberto.

"We had a tough battle two weeks ago, and coming out as a winner today it means a lot to me."

Sinner also won that previous match, another tight three-setter, in Dubai.

Speaking on Amazon Prime, he explained how he recovered from a slow start to win the Miami tussle.

"In the beginning I think we were both a little bit tight and then we both played a little bit better," Sinner said.

"Today was not easy, it was a little bit windy, and in the end I tried to serve better and try to move him a little bit more, try to mix it up a little bit, and that was the key today.

"He was serving a few second serves in the last game and I just tried to go for it and even if I lost the game I was 5-5, so I was up in the score and it was the right decision."

Agassi, in 1990, and Djokovic, in 2007, were both teenage champions at the event, beating Stefan Edberg and Guillermo Canas respectively in the title matches.

Nadal lost to Roger Federer in the 2005 final, with the Swiss coming from two sets down to win what was then a five-set finale to the tournament. It has since gone back to being a best-of-three match.

Sinner may have benefited from Nadal, Djokovic and Federer electing to skip this year's tournament, but many believe he has the potential to follow them to the very top of the game.

Former women's world number five Daniela Hantuchova hailed Sinner's "braveness and calmness", adding: "When it really mattered, he stepped it up big time and to be able to do that at such a young age, we are looking at something very, very special here."

Greg Rusedski, runner-up at the 1997 US Open, added on Amazon's broadcast: "Rafa was the youngest to be in the Miami finals. Mentally they have a lot in common. Different styles but just bold and brave."

Russian star Daniil Medvedev overcame painful cramps and Alexei Popyrin to battle his way into the Miami Open round of 16.

Medvedev looked in all sorts of trouble against the Australian, but the world number two and top seed survived at the ATP 1000 tournament on Sunday.

Canadian sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime was sent packing by former champion John Isner in Miami.

 

MEDVEDEV ADVANCES… SOMEHOW

Australian Open and US Open runner-up Medvedev could barely walk during his gruelling three-set win against Popyrin.

Medvedev let three match points slip away in the second set, having led 5-2, before cramp set in.

In humid conditions, Medvedev was forced to rely on his serve as he limped around the court.

"Winning a Grand Slam final in straight sets doesn't feel the way I felt after the match point today," he said. "A match to remember for sure."

"I felt like my legs were not following me anymore," Medvedev said. "The only thing I was thinking about is not to fall down, because if you fall down, I don't think I would be able to get up. There were a few moments I just wanted to lay down and say, 'OK, it's over.' That's the thing I couldn't accept myself to do."

Awaiting Medvedev is Frances Tiafoe after he outlasted 16th seed Dusan Lajovic 1-6 7-5 6-3.

 

AUGER-ALIASSIME TOPPLED

A new year, but same result for 11th seed Auger-Aliassime, who was beaten 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) by Isner.

Isner defeated Auger-Aliassime en route to the championship match in Miami two years ago and the big-serving American repeated the feat.

The only former Miami champion in this year's field, Isner remains unbeaten in tie-breaks at Hard Rock Stadium, winning all 11 since the tournament relocated in 2019.

"It was a big test for me. There's probably not many places in the world where I like my chances against Felix," Isner said. "I'm kind of lucky to play him here in Miami, where I like it a lot. If I were to play him on clay somewhere in Europe, it'd probably be a different story."

Next up is seventh seed Roberto Bautista-Agut, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Elsewhere, Jannik Sinner, Taylor Fritz, Emil Ruusuvuori and Alexander Bublik also advanced.

A "tired" Roger Federer was "incredibly happy" to mark his long-awaited return with a battling victory over Dan Evans in the second round of the Qatar Open.

Swiss legend Federer had been out of action for 14 months after undergoing knee surgery, but he was back in business with a 7-6 (10-8) 3-6 7-5 win over Briton Evans.

The 20-time grand slam champion had spent a lot of time practicing with Evans in recent weeks before making his comeback and they spent another two hours and 24 minutes on court in a tight tussle on Wednesday.

Federer was delighted to be back after such a lengthy absence and the 39-year-old's next test will come against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals in Doha.

He said: "I was tired, I was more focused on being tired than winning the points. If I was going to go out, I was going to go out swinging. Dan had more energy left at the end but I was serving well and I thought I played a really good match. I'm incredibly happy about my performance.

"It was a pleasure to share the court with Dan and always nice to finish off with a backhand down the line on match point. The important think is how I feel tomorrow and the next day and so forth for the next six months.

"It's been a long and tough road for me. I enjoyed it though, it's been a huge challenge in my tennis career."

Top seed Dominic Thiem earlier needed three sets to defeat wildcard Aslan Karatsev 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2, while the in-form Andrey Rublev was given a walkover after Richard Gasquet withdrew due to a leg injury.

Denis Shapovalov beat Vasek Pospisil in an all-Canadian encounter, while Roberto Bautista Agut was among the other winners.

Karen Khachanov reached the quarter-finals of the Open 13 Provence with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over Mackenzie McDonald, while Jannik Sinner ousted Hugo Gaston in straight sets.

Cameron Norrie, Matthew Ebden and Egor Gerasimov were also victorious in Marseille.

The war of words between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios continued on day one of the Australian Open, while Gael Monfils was reduced to tears after a first-round exit.

Reigning champion Djokovic cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour and a half but was unwilling to be drawn on comments made by Kyrgios following the home favourite's 6-4 6-4 6-4 success against Frederico Ferreira Silva.

Djokovic, who has now won 15 straight Australian Open matches, will take on Frances Tiafoe next and Kyrgios has a meeting with Ugo Humbert. A potential crossing of their paths on court could not happen until the semi-finals.

Monfils, seeded 10th at Melbourne Park, could not hide his emotions after succumbing to a 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 defeat in a five-set thriller against Emil Ruusuvuori.

Benoit Paire was the only other seed to go out on day one, with Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman and Stan Wawrinka picking up victories.

 

"HE'S A STRANGE CAT"

On the eve of the first grand slam of the year Djokovic said he had "no respect" for Kyrgios off the court, which the Australian was confused by as he pointed out the charitable work he has done during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kyrgios was previously critical of the Adria Tour organised by Djokovic last year, which ended with multiple players testing positive for COVID-19.

Asked about the Serbian's pre-tournament comment, Kyrgios said: "It actually would make complete sense to me if he was like, 'Look, I don't respect the guy on the court.' Because I understand if he doesn't agree with some of my antics on the court that I have done in the past.

"He's a very strange cat, Novak is. Heck of a tennis player, but unfortunately someone that's partying with his shirt off during a global pandemic, I don't know if I can take any slack from that man. That's as bad as it gets for me."

When a reporter asked if they could read those comments out to Djokovic in his post-match news conference, the 17-time major champion replied: "You can read it, but I'm not gonna answer to anything."

Upon hearing the remarks and being asked if he had a reply, Djokovic simply said: "No."

 

ANOTHER LOSS FOR MONFILS

Having lost his first-round match to Ruusuvuori, who incredibly saved 17 break points, Monfils remained without a win on the ATP Tour since February 2020.

The Frenchman was eliminated in the first round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2006 and admitted he had lost all his self-belief and was finding it extremely difficult to get himself back on track.

"I don't have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can't," said Monfils.

"I don’t know when it's going to end. It's hard. Every time I get here I feel judged, I've lost again. I can't serve, I'm playing badly. I'm being honest and it's going to take time."

 

BEST OF THE REST

Thiem made light work of Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Dominik Koepfer, but Zverev had to come from a set down to beat Marcos Giron 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-2. He will face Maxime Cressy next.

Denis Shapovalov also had to fight back to defeat Jannik Sinner, who reached the French Open quarter-finals last year, in an entertaining five-setter on Margaret Court Arena.

Marin Cilic, the runner-up at Melbourne Park in 2018, went down 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to Grigor Dimitrov, while Pablo Carreno Busta overcame Kei Nishikori 7-5 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

There were straight-set wins for Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Felix Auger-Aliassime against Paulo Sousa, Federico Coria and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe respectively, and Schwartzman defeated Elias Ymer 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 2-6 6-2.

World number four Daniil Medvedev clinched ATP Cup success for Russia, who defeated Italy in Melbourne on Sunday.

On the eve of the Australian Open, Medvedev boosted his preparations by guiding Russia past Italy thanks to a 6-4 6-2 victory over Matteo Berrettini at Melbourne Park.

It was a dominant display from Russia, who won all eight singles matches they played in the ATP Cup, after Andrey Rublev overpowered Fabio Fognini 6-1 6-2 in the second matchup.

"I want to thank my team. Andrey won all of his matches," Medvedev said. "Thank you for being with me here and lifting this trophy in a few moments."

Medvedev heads in Monday's Australian Open in red-hot form, having won a personal-best 14 successive matches, dating back to the start of last year's Paris Masters.

Of those victories, 10 have come against top-10 opponents as 2019 US Open runner-up Medvedev – seeded fourth for the year's first grand slam – prepares to face Vasek Pospisil on Tuesday.

"It's a really big achievement because I also didn't lose a match. Yeah, 10 matches against Top 10 opponents, didn't lose a match in these 10 matches. It's a big boost in confidence," Medvedev said.

"Even when you lose, you know that you're capable of playing this level, and it helps you for the next time to stand up."

While Italy did not taste team success, Jannik Sinner claimed the Great Ocean Road Open on Sunday.

Sinner overcame countryman Stefano Travaglia 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to earn his second title following the first all-Italian ATP Tour final since 1988.

The 19-year-old Sinner is the youngest player to win two ATP Tour titles since world number one Novak Djokovic (19) in 2006, while he is also the youngest player to celebrate back-to-back trophies since 20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal (19) in 2005.

Elsewhere, eighth seed Daniel Evans defeated Canadian sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2 6-3 to claim his first tour-level title.

Evans became the first Brit to win an ATP Tour title since Kyle Edmund at the New York Open last February.

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