Rafael Nadal was forced to work hard to avoid becoming the biggest scalp in the last 16 at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Thursday.

Rival Novak Djokovic had already sealed his progress earlier in the day, beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in dominant fashion, but Nadal found life hard against Denis Shapovalov.

The Spaniard has already uncharacteristically lost twice on clay courts this season and was heading for a third as he trailed Shapovalov 3-6 0-3.

Even after Nadal recovered to take the second set, he faced two match points in the decider, battling bravely to a vital hold of serve that took the match well beyond the three-hour mark and into a tie-break.

There, Nadal finally took control, running out a 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) winner to reach the last eight and gain some much-needed minutes on the court.

"It's an important victory for me [to] be able to win matches like today, three hours and 27, in the Barcelona final three hours and 38, long matches," said Nadal.

"To be able to win these kinds of matches against young players gives me confidence with my body."

There had been no such test for Djokovic in his 6-2 6-1 rout, although the world number one felt that was in part due to his improving form.

"I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against [Taylor] Fritz a few days ago," he said. "I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better."

Djokovic will face fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas next after his straight-sets defeat of Matteo Berrettini.

For Nadal, Alexander Zverev is a similarly tricky opponent having come through three sets against Kei Nishikori.

But not every seed made it through, as Dominic Thiem succumbed to the last remaining home hopeful in Lorenzo Sonego, a dramatic 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) victor.

A meeting with Andrey Rublev is the Italian's reward, while there will be at least one unseeded player in the last four as Federico Delbonis prepares to take on Reilly Opelka.

Novak Djokovic cruised into the quarter-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia with a straight-sets demolition of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Thursday.

The world number one took just an hour and 10 minutes to wrap up an emphatic 6-2 6-1 victory at the Foro Italico.

Davidovich Fokina broke the top seed's serve in the first game of the match, but that proved to be a false dawn for the Spanish qualifier.

Djokovic put the 21-year-old under huge pressure with another returning masterclass, breaking back immediately and on two more occasions to seal the first set.

The 18-time grand slam champion was relentless in the second set, forcing Davidovich Fokina's unforced error count up to 30 as he breezed into the last eight.

Djokovic, who has reached at least the quarter-final stage in each of his 15 appearances at the prestigious tournament in Rome, was waiting to learn whether he would face Stefanos Tsitsipas or Matteo Berrettini for a place in the semi-finals.

The Serbian said: "I thought I played well. He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court.

"I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

"He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward.

"I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against [Taylor] Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better."

Novak Djokovic returned following a rain delay to beat Taylor Fritz in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia after Felix Auger-Aliassime dumped Diego Schwartzman out.

Djokovic, playing his first match since a shock loss to Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals of the Serbia Open on home soil, dispatched American Fritz 6-3 7-6 (7-5) on Tuesday.

The world number one, who missed the Madrid Open, won the first three games of the match and saved both break points he faced in the opening set.

Fritz had broken for a second time in the second set to level at 5-5 when the rain came at the Foro Italico, but the top seed was able to come back out on court to finish off the job and will face Cameron Norrie or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the third round.

Auger-Aliassime secured the third victory over a top-10 opponent in his fledgling career, beating eighth seed Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 to move into round three.

The 20-year-old Canadian only needed 64 minutes to send the Argentine packing, converting five of the six break-point opportunities he earned.

Matteo Berrettini saw off Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 6-2 6-4 in the first round less than 48 hours after the Italian was beaten by Alexander Zverev in the Madrid Open final.

Gael Monfils was unable to win his first match since the Australian Open, as Lorenzo Sonego got the better of the fit-again Frenchman, who had been sidelined with a calf injury, 6-4 5-7 6-4.

Reilly Opelka moved into the last 16 with a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Lorenzo Musetti, while Pablo Carreno Busta's withdrawal due to lower back pain handed Kei Nishikori a walkover.

Daniil Medvedev and David Goffin were unable to start their second-round matches due to the weather in Rome.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal learned their round of 32 opponents after Monday's action at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Taylor Fritz will be hoping for a first win over world number one Djokovic at the fourth attempt after recovering from 1-3 down in the first set to defeat Monte Carlo semi-finalist Dan Evans 6-3 6-2.

"We played twice on clay in 2018, in Monte-Carlo and Madrid," the American said, having bounced back from two down to take Djokovic to five sets in this year's Australian Open.

"I got beaten pretty bad those two times. I feel better prepared to play him now, after the match in Australia."

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner continued his superb form to set up a meeting with Nadal, a nine-time winner in the Italian capital.

Sinner dispatched Ugo Humbert 6-2 6-4 in 90 minutes for his 20th win of the season and will now look to improve upon a straight-sets loss to Nadal at Roland Garros last October.

World number 27 Aslan Karatsev matched Sinner's 2021 haul by overcoming Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 and is up next for Daniil Medvedev.

Marin Cilic will take on fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas after battling to a 4-6 6-2 6-3 triumph over Alexander Bublik, while Andrey Rublev and Dominic Thiem – also the beneficiaries of byes – will face Jan-Lennard Struff and Marton Fucsovics respectively after their straight-sets wins over lucky losers Aljaz Bedene and Yoshihito Nishioka.

The most notable casualty in Monday's round one action was Hubert Hurkacz who, who retired at 6-4 2-0 down to Italian wildcard Lorenzo Musetti.

Andy Murray heads to Rome on Saturday with the drive to show there could be one last special summer in his career, and he has an early test against Novak Djokovic booked in.

Former world number one and 11-time grand slam finalist Murray has not played since the Rotterdam Open in early March, having been forced to pull out of the Miami Masters due to a groin injury.

Staying fit has been a problem for Murray since he required a hip resurfacing procedure in January 2019, to deal with a persistent problem that threatened his career.

He particularly wants to play Wimbledon and the Olympics this year, having won both events twice, and hopes to do so in good health.

The 33-year-old is waiting to learn whether he must go through qualifying for the French Open or if a wildcard awaits. He is not entered into the upcoming Internazionali d'Italia but will be in Rome all the same, working to get himself match-ready for the tests that lie ahead.

Murray said: "I want to get out there to be around the top players and top tournaments. On Sunday I've got a court booked with [Diego] Schwartzman and then Novak [Djokovic] in the afternoon.

"I want to play against the highest-level players possible because I think that will help me improve my game quicker."

Quoted in the British media on Saturday, Murray said: "I'm really looking forward to going away [on Saturday] and being among those guys and having a good few months this summer, with Wimbledon and the Olympics. I feel good right now."

Murray was ruled out of the Australian Open, which took place in February, after contracting COVID-19, and the groin injury in Miami was another major disappointment.

While he will be limited to the practice courts in Rome, Murray is aiming to fit in at least one tournament before the French Open, with Geneva and Lyon both staging events in the week ahead of Roland Garros qualifying.

"It's difficult for me to look too far into the future," said Murray, now down to 123rd in the ATP rankings. "I need to try and find a way of staying on the match court for longer. It has been extremely frustrating.

"When I had the operation on the hip I knew it was going to be unbelievably challenging. It just feels there are a couple of things that have happened this year which have been very unfortunate, that have been hard to take."

Defending champion Novak Djokovic has revealed he will not play in the Madrid Open next week.

The world number one on Wednesday announced he will not take his place in the draw at the Caja Magica, where he won the title for a third time two years ago by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic suffered a shock defeat to Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals of the Serbia Open on home soil last week and the 18-time grand slam champion will not be adding to his list of honours in Madrid.

He stated: "Sorry that I won’t be able to travel to Madrid this year and meet all my fans.

"It's been two years already, quite a long time. Hope to see you all next year!"

Djokovic has won 12 times and been beaten twice this season, claiming a ninth Australian Open crown in February.

The Madrid Open was not staged last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

World number one Novak Djokovic was full of praise for his Serbia Open semi-final conqueror Aslan Karatsev but bemoaned his own "low level" performance.

Karatsev got past Djokovic in the longest match of the 2021 ATP Tour in Belgrade, triumphing 7-5 4-6 6-4 on Saturday.

The match went for three hours and 25 minutes, with the Russian securing a spot in Sunday's final against 10th ranked Matteo Berrettini.

The Serbian had beaten Karatsev in the Australian Open semi-finals two months ago, with the 27-year-old Russian, who is now ranked 28th, returning the favour.

"From my side, I played on quite a low level, in my opinion," Djokovic said.

“[I had] some flashes of good quality tennis. I was fighting. That is a positive.

"I was really trying all the way [and] the crowd was great. They carried me and tried to lift me up, all the way to the end.

"Because of them, I think I won the second set. Unfortunately in the third, he was just the better player in the decisive moments. I had my chances, but that is sport."

Djokovic was gracious in defeat, offering a thumbs up immediately after Karatsev secured victory along with complimentary words to his opponent who saved 23 of 28 break points.

"Karatsev showed a lot of courage and that is why I gave him the thumbs up," Djokovic said.

"I felt like he deserved to win… Once the final point is done, there is never bad blood. We are rivals on the court, but I don’t hate anybody. I can’t be upset with him if he beat me.

"I have to be upset with myself and question why I lost the match. Whoever beats me deserves the credit and I gave him that.

"I lost to a better player who was just more courageous. He went for his shots at the right time and it worked for him."

Aslan Karatsev secured a stunning career-best victory over home favourite Novak Djokovic to set up a Serbia Open final against Matteo Berrettini.

Karatsev showed astonishing defiance to beat the world number one 7-5 4-6 6-4 in the longest ATP Tour match of the year on Saturday.

The third seed from Russia saved 23 of the 28 break points he faced as his aggressive approach paid off, toppling the 18-time grand slam champion in a contest that lasted three hours and 25 minutes.

It was sweet revenge for Karatsev, who was beaten by the legendary Serbian at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open two months ago.

Djokovic had won 11 matches in a row in his homeland, but bowed out despite being 2-0 up in the first two sets as a solitary break in the decider ended his run.

Karatsev, the world number 28, said: "It was a long, tough match [against a] tough opponent.

"You have to put [in] like 200 per cent to beat this guy, it's like playing against a wall. And he also made some good shots.

"He doesn't give you any free points. He always makes you play and you have to be always there because once you miss a couple of shots, he just takes it very quickly. That’s how I lost the second set."

Berrettini secured his place in the final with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 victory over lucky loser Taro Daniel.

Second seed Berrettini only lost six points in the last set after Daniel came from a break down in the second before winning a tie-break to take the second semi-final the distance.

Heading into Sunday's final, Karatsev and Berrettini have never previously faced each other on the ATP Tour.

 

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.

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.

Novak Djokovic admitted he played an "awful" match against Dan Evans at the Monte Carlo Masters as Rafael Nadal advanced with ease to the quarter-finals.

World number one Djokovic, playing in his first tournament since winning a ninth Australian Open in February, suffered his first defeat of 2021 on Thursday.

Evans, who had never before reached the last eight of a Masters 1000 tournament, won 6-4 7-5 with a performance that belied his relative lack of success on clay.

The 30-year-old Briton will now meet David Goffin, who surprised fifth seed Alexander Zverev 6-4 7-6 (9-7).

"To be honest, this has been probably one of the worst matches and performances from my side I can recall in the last years," said Djokovic. "I don't want to take anything away from his win, but from my side, I just felt awful on the court overall. Just nothing worked. It's one of those days."

Saying he felt "completely the opposite" to Wednesday's win over Jannik Sinner, Djokovic added: "Just was obviously very, very windy, tough to play in these kinds of conditions against a guy like Evans who makes you move. He's very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game."

Eleven-time Monte Carlo champion Nadal had no such problems in his match as he dismissed Grigor Dimitrov 6-1 6-1 in 55 minutes.

Nadal, who boasts a 14-1 career record against the Bulgarian, did not face a break point in either set against his off-colour opponent.

Dimitrov started the match with three double faults in his opening service game and was 4-0 down in each set.

"[I am] sorry for him. He played a bad match. That is the truth," said Spaniard Nadal. "He made a lot of mistakes. I was there. I was doing the right thing, but it is true that today was more his fault than my good tennis."

Nadal will face Andrey Rublev after the Russian battled past Roberto Bautista-Agut 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-3.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Cristian Garin 6-3 6-4, will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina next, while Fabio Fognini's straight-sets win over Filip Krajinovic set up a meeting with Casper Ruud.

Dan Evans produced a stunning victory over Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters, revealing the world number one had irritated him before the match even began.

A 6-4 7-5 victory for 33rd-ranked Evans in his first career clash with Djokovic carried the Briton through to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final and inflicted a first defeat of 2021 on his opponent.

The seeds of the upset were planted before the players hit the court, Evans later revealed, with the 30-year-old having been irked at having to wait for Djokovic in the locker room.

Top seed Djokovic was playing his first tournament since winning the Australian Open in February, for his 18th grand slam title, and he found it tough against a player who has previously enjoyed little success on clay.

"I thought I did a good job to get out of my service games. He had so many break points but didn't take them, so I was a little lucky there," Evans told Amazon Prime.

"I ran around the first second serve I got, to tell him I'm not going to just stand back and rally, I'm going to try to hit his second serve a little, and I got a few doubles out there."

Djokovic served four double faults, with Evans setting the tone for the match by surging 3-0 ahead early in the opening set.

"He kept me waiting at the start of the match in the changing rooms a little bit, so it was a little annoying," Evans said. "I was ready to go from that, so that got me a little extra fired up."

Rather than being intimidated by the presence of Djokovic on the other side of the net, Evans indicated he treated the Serbian like just another opponent, there to be beaten.

"That's why we roll the balls out, it's one against one and we've got to see who wins," Evans said.

"He gave me some cheap ones today which he never normally does, so I was a little lucky there, but I'm just really happy with coming through."

Evans' win was hailed by former British number one Tim Henman, who said: "He played fantastic tennis. In difficult conditions, he was the one that really dealt with it so well.

"Those first three games where he got up a double break, that probably changed his mindset. It increased his belief and Djokovic was frustrated, but in so many critical moments it was Evans who came up with the great tennis.

"It's an unbelievable achievement. Evans has won so few matches on clay so to beat the world number one, it's an amazing win."

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.

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