Novak Djokovic returns in style at Monte Carlo but Alcaraz pulls out

Estimated read time 3 min read

The world No 1 Novak Djokovic made an emphatic start at the Monte Carlo Masters with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Russia’s Roman Safiullin, easing into the third round at a rain-delayed day three on Tuesday.

Djokovic, who pulled out of the recent Miami Open to balance his schedule, looked fresh as he broke Safiullin’s serve three times in the opening set, and a further two breaks in the second was enough to seal the win. The Serbian, winner in 2013 and 2015, will meet the victor between France’s Arthur Fils and Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti who play their second round match later on Tuesday. Musetti defeated Djokovic at the third-round stage last year.

Hubert Hurkacz is into the second round with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) win, but was made to battle by Britain’s Jack Draper after the Polish 10th seed looked like dominating early on. Hurkacz raced into a 3-0 lead in the first set but Draper rallied to level at 4-4, before the Pole broke serve to take the opener. Draper then broke to love twice to win the second set and force the decider.

With Hurkacz serving at 5-4 to win the match, Draper broke serve but it was a relieved Hurkacz who emerged victorious in the tie-break. Hurkacz, who also beat Draper at last year’s tournament, will face Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the second round.

Alex de Minaur had little trouble seeing off the challenge of the former champion Stan Wawrinka, winning 6-3, 6-0 to progress to the second round. Wawrinka won the title in 2014, but a decade later the Swiss 39-year-old was no match for the Australian 11th seed, who needed only 24 minutes to complete a bagel in the second set, and will face Tallon Griekspoor.

Sebastian Korda also eased into the second round with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, finalist in 2022, but will face a much stiffer test when he takes on the world No 2 Jannik Sinner in the next round. “Obviously, he’s probably the best tennis player in the world right now,” Korda said in advance of meeting the Australian Open champion. “He’s had an unbelievable season and it’s going to be our first meeting on the clay. I’m just going to try to go out there, try my best, and see what happens.”

Carlos Alcaraz, the third seed, has withdrawn from the tournament with an arm injury, and his second round place was taken by the lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego, who will play Felix Auger-Aliassime. Alcaraz may also have an eye on his preparation for the French Open, which begins on 20 May.

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“I have been working in Monte Carlo and trying to recover until the last minute from an injured pronator teres in my right arm, but it was not possible and I cannot play,” Alcaraz posted on social media. “I was really looking forward to playing. See you next year.”


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