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.

Third seed Alexander Zverev was sensationally dumped out of the Miami Open second round as Finnish 21-year-old Emil Ruusuvuori claimed his second top 10 win of his career.

Russuvuori bounced back after losing the first set, changing his tactics and overwhelming the German on Friday to set up a third round meeting with Mikael Ymer.

Ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov also bowed out, going down to Briton Cameron Norrie, while eighth seed David Goffin lost to James Duckworth.

World number two and top seed Daniil Medvedev eased past Lu Yen-hsun, while 11th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, Karen Khachanov and John Isner all progressed.

 

TURNAROUND STUNS THIRD SEED

Zverev may have won last week's Mexican Open and the opening set 6-1 against Ruusuvuori but the tables turned quickly as the Finn produced one of the best displays of his career to date.

The 83rd ranked Finn moved regularly to the net and was aggressive in his approach, leaving Zverev rattled before winning 1-6 6-3 6-1 in a stunning momentum shift.

"I don't even know myself," Ruusuvuori said in his on-court interview when asked how he turned the match around.

"I wasn't feeling very comfortable in the first set and I was making a lot of unforced errors but slowly in the second I was starting to feel a bit better... Of course, it's one of the biggest wins in my career so it feels good."

He'll next face Ymer who knocked out 27th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

 

NINTH SEED BUNDLED OUT

Former world number three Dimitrov was ousted from the Miami Open on Friday, losing 7-5 7-5 to 56th ranked Norrie.

The Bulgarian took an early break and served for the first set at 5-3 but Norrie showed his mettle to break back twice to take the opener.

Norrie sent down 10 aces and was strong on serve throughout, claiming a significant win for his burgeoning career.

“It’s huge,” Norrie said. “He’s had a good start to the year. It was such a physical match at the start. He came out really fast and he set the tone at the beginning of the match. Massive one for me and I take a lot of confidence from it.”

Norrie's win sets up a third round meeting with American Taylor Fritz who beat Marcos Giron 6-2 6-2.

 

DANIIL DOMINATES, GOFFIN SHOCK

Australian Open runner-up Medvedev made light work of Lu, winning 6-2 6-2 to book a third round match with Australian 21-year-old Alexei Popyrin.

Medvedev won in less than an hour, hitting 24 winners and nine aces and making few errors in a clinical display.

Canadian 11th seed Aliassime proved too good for Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4 6-4, setting up a third round meeting with 18th seed John Isner who got past qualifier Mackenzie McDonald.

Seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut progressed by virtue of a walkover against Lloyd Harris who had a wrist issue.

Eighth seed Goffin lost to world number 104 Duckworth 6-3 6-1 in a boilover.

German star Alexander Zverev was too strong for top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Mexican Open final, claiming the title in straight sets after a stunning turnaround.

In a battle of the top two seeds, Zverev reigned supreme 6-4 7-6 (7-3) for his 14th ATP crown in Saturday's Acapulco decider.

Last year's US Open finalist Zverev was runner-up at the ATP 500 tournament in 2019, beaten by Australian Nick Kyrgios in straight sets.

But Zverev went one step further this year, taking down two-time Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas after two hours, 17 minutes.

Zverev, who was rocked during his semi-final win over countryman Dominik Koepfer on Friday – a 5.7 magnitude earthquake registered as broadcast cameras shook, did not drop a set throughout his title-winning run.

Greek star Tsitsipas made an impressive start, racing out to a 3-0 lead after breaking Zverev in the second game.

Zverev, though, hit back as he put the set back on serve in the seventh game before consolidating.

Another break saw Tsitsipas come unstuck – Zverev reeling off six consecutive games to claim the opening set in red-hot fashion.

Zverev and Tsitsipas went toe-to-toe in the second set, the pair exchanging breaks late as a tie-break eventually saw the former complete a dominant display.

World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised into the Mexican Open final with a routine victory over Italian teenage sensation Lorenzo Musetti in Acapulco on Friday.

Tsitsipas triumphed 6-1 6-3 in 79 minutes to get past 19-year-old Musetti, who had beaten third seed Diego Schwartzman and former world number three Grigor Dimitrov on his run to the semis.

The Greek top seed will play second seed Alexander Zverev in Saturday's final after the German got past countryman Dominik Koepfer 6-4 7-6 (7-5) in their semi-final, which was literally rocked by an earthquake.

The broadcast cameras shook mid-point but play continued as a 5.7 magnitude earthquake was registered to the north of Marquelia, which is to the east of Acapulco.

Tsitsipas holds a 5-1 record against Zverev, who is ranked seventh in the world and made last year's US Open final.

"Sascha is someone I've played against in the past and it's never easy. We're both really hungry and we're both very competitive," Tsitsipas said.

The Greek made light work of Musetti, winning five straight games in the opening set after starting at 1-1.

Unforced errors cost Musetti, who had his moments, but Tsitsipas was on song with 17 of 23 winners off his forehand.

Musetti will move into the top 100 of the rankings for the first time on Monday after his breakthrough week.

"We'll definitely see a lot from Lorenzo in the future, he has a wonderful one-handed backhand and creates lots of opportunities. He showed his level this week," Tsitsipas said.

An earthquake hit Acapulco during Alexander Zverev's clash against Dominik Koepfer at the Mexican Open on Friday.

The broadcast camera shook mid-point during the all-German semi-final encounter.

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake was registered to the north of Marquelia, which is to the east of Acapulco.

Zverev went on to secure a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory over Koepfer to reach the final.

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was made to sweat but got past Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets to reach the Mexican Open semi-finals on Thursday.

World number five Tsitsipas, who was a semi-finalist at last month's Australian Open, defeated seventh seed Auger-Aliassime 7-5 4-6 6-3 in Acapulco.

In a tight contest, back-to-back double faults from Canadian sensation Auger-Aliassime in the eighth game of the third set proved costly as Tsitsipas broke after the pair had held serve throughout the last.

"It got really tight," Tsitsipas said in his post-game interview. "I got a bit lucky with the double faults towards the end of the match.

"I was just persistent. Towards the end I had zoned in 100 per cent. Both of us brought an amazing energy out on the court. Felix is someone I've played a lot and I have huge respect for him."

Greek star Tsitsipas will next play emerging Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti for a spot in the ATP 500 tournament decider.

Qualifier Musetti, who upstaged third seed Diego Schwartzman in the first round, stunned fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 7-6 (7-3) in the final match of the day.

The 19-year-old Musetti will now contest his maiden ATP 500-level semi-final as he prepares to enter the top 100 on the men's tour after just his fourth main-draw appearance.

Alexander Zverev – the German second seed – progressed to the semi-finals with a walkover after eighth seed Casper Ruud withdrew due to a wrist injury sustained in practice.

Zverev will play countryman Dominik Koepfer in the final four after he defeated Cameron Norrie 7-5 6-4, maintaining his run of not dropping a set all tournament.

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and fellow star Alexander Zverev progressed to the Mexican Open quarter-finals on Wednesday, but Milos Raonic bowed out.

Tsitsipas was too good for big-serving American John Isner in a 6-3 6-2 victory in Acapulco midweek.

A two-time Australian Open finalist, having also reached the French Open final four last year, Tsitsipas excelled on serve against Isner.

Greek star Tsitsipas only dropped one point on his first serve – not facing a break point throughout the last-16 contest – while firing down eight aces.

Standing in the way of Tsitsipas and a semi-final spot at the ATP 500 tournament is Canadian sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime.

In a battle of the NextGen, seventh seed Auger-Aliassime saved four of five break points in a 6-3 6-4 win over wild card Sebastian Korda.

Zverev will feature in his third Mexican Open quarter-final in four years after the second seed took down Laslo Djere 6-4 6-3.

Runner-up in 2019, Zverev will next face eighth seed Casper Ruud – who topped Tallon Griekspoor 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in the quarters.

"I think today what showed the most is that I got better with the match," Zverev said. "I started off extremely sloppy, started off with a lot of unforced errors.

"The longer the match went on the better I started playing and this is something that is very important for me. When I get into a rhythm I feel very comfortable on court and that's how I felt today."

Elsewhere, Lorenzo Musetti's giant-slaying run continued following a 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-1) victory against Frances Tiafoe.

Musetti earned his first ATP 500 quarter-final as the Italian prepares to meet fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, who eased past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 6-2.

There was an upset after fourth seed Raonic crashed out 6-4 6-2 at the hands of Dominik Koepfer, while sixth seed Fabio Fognini lost 6-4 6-3 against Cameron Norrie.

Alexander Zverev cruised into the second round of the Mexican Open as debutant Sebastian Korda enjoyed a memorable debut in Acapulco.

German star and second seed Zverev accounted for teenager Carlos Alcaraz, the 2019 runner-up winning the opening-round clash 6-3 6-1 on Monday.

Alcaraz – in his first showdown against a top-10 player – broke for a 2-0 lead and while he continued to go toe-to-toe with Zverev through six games, the 17-year-old was unable to maintain his charge.

Zverev broke for a 4-3 lead and the 2020 US Open finalist did not look back, winning nine of the last 10 games to advance in 84 minutes.

"He started off playing extremely well, he didn't miss a lot of balls. Then I felt more comfortable on court, this is the first round," Zverev said.

"It's not always easy to play a first round, especially against a player like this, who is very young, who is very motivated and who wants to compete. I'm actually quite happy with how the match went."

Next up for Zverev – who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in February – is Serbia's Laslo Djere.

Djere took down Steve Johnson 6-2 6-3 for a spot in the last 16.

Meanwhile, Korda capped his Acapulco bow with a shock 7-5 6-2 win against former world number three Marin Cilic.

Korda claimed his first ATP 500-level victory having saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced in the opening set against the 2014 US Open champion.

Canadian sensation and seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime awaits after the 20-year-old converted his sixth match point to see off Tennys Sandgren 6-3 7-6 (10-8).

Elsewhere, John Isner and Dominik Koepfer also advanced.

Andy Murray slumped to defeat to Andrey Rublev at the Rotterdam Open, where both Alexander Zverev and top seed Daniil Medvedev crashed out in Wednesday's action.

Rublev – defeated by Medvedev in the Australian Open quarter-finals – booked his place in the last eight with a clinical 7-5 6-2 victory over the former world number one. 

The world number eight hailed Murray as a "true legend" ahead of the clash, with the Russian and Scot having previously met only once before. 

Murray, then at the peak of his powers, came out on top in the second round of the 2017 Australian Open, thought it was a far different story this time around, Rublev dispatching his opponent with relative ease. 

Rublev saved all three break points that Murray managed to create during proceedings, breaking twice in the second set before wrapping up the win at the first opportunity.

Dusan Lajovic put in an impressive display as he registered a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 victory over Medvedev. 

A run to the Rotterdam final would have moved Medvedev up to world number two, yet the Australian Open runner-up was well shy of his best. 

The Russian led by a break in the first set, only for Lajovic to hit back to square things up at 3-3, with the Serbian winning the tie-break when Medvedev double-faulted. 

Lajovic looked to have the odds stacked against him early in the second set, yet ultimately fought back again following another unforced error from the world number three to claim his second career win over Medvedev.

Lajovic will now face Borna Coric to tee up a tie with Kei Nishikori, who followed up his opening win over Felix Auger-Aliassime by beating Alex de Minaur 6-3 2-6 7-5 to clinch a quarter-final spot. 

The other shock result during the day came in the form of world number seven Zverev losing 7-5 6-3 to Alexander Bublik. 

It was the biggest win of Bublik's career, with the world number 43 - a finalist at the Singapore Open on Sunday - having now triumphed in his last three matches against top-10 opponents. 

Zverev was playing for the first time since a quarter-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne last month. 

Bublik will face American Tommy Paul in the next round, while David Goffin beat Jan-Lennard Struff and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina got the better of compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut. 

Novak Djokovic has claimed the "majority" of tennis players are opposed to playing on tour this season if quarantining before tournaments becomes the norm.

The world number one made his stunning claim after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals with a four-set win over Alexander Zverev, moving a step closer to a ninth title at the event.

Djokovic is battling an abdominal injury and he pointed to problems that have affected the likes of Rafael Nadal, Matteo Berrettini and Grigor Dimitrov during their time in Australia.

He stressed that being locked down in hotel rooms as they were in Australia - in some cases being strictly confined for 14 days - was "definitely not good" for the physical health of players.

He is proposing, casually for now, that tennis considers a bubble system whereby one venue stages a string of tournaments, meaning players would not have to travel from country to country and each time need to abide by different COVID-19 rules.

"I don't want to sit here and complain about what we have been through, but we have to be honest and realistic that it has an effect on the physical well-being of players. Of course also mental, emotional, but physically this is not normal," Djokovic said.

"We are hoping that it's temporary. But talking to a lot of players, the majority of the players just don't want to go ahead with the season if we are going to have to quarantine most of the tournaments.

"So this is something that should be discussed, as of now."

Djokovic is a former president of the ATP player council, resigning before last year's US Open to lead the breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association.

The 17-time major winner may be a divisive figure to some, but he is determined to be involved in the big decisions.

He said he had held conversations with members of the player council, who in turn had spoken to ATP management.

"I'm waiting for some answers. I want to understand how our continuation of the season post-Australia is going to look like, because this definitely is not good for players in terms of their well-being," the 33-year-old Serbian said.

He said players had turned out for the Australian Open because of the large prize money on offer, tolerating the fortnight in quarantine because of the subsequent rewards, but said prize money cuts at other tournaments would make many think twice.

There have been "a lot of complaints" from lower-ranked players, Djokovic said.

"We have to find a way, whether it's something like an NBA bubble, because I heard some players talk about that, and I don't mind to discuss about that kind of idea," Djokovic said, referring to last season's NBA bubble at Walt Disney World, Florida, where the basketball season was able to be completed.

"Select one place and we play all the tournaments on that surface and that place. Three, four weeks in, three, four, two, three weeks' rest, then back again. Something like that."

Djokovic offered no suggestion players would consider skipping the grand slams that remain in 2021 - the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

But he said: "We also have to be realistic that what we are experiencing here in Australia is far better than what most of Europe is going through in terms of restrictions and rules and regulations and quarantines, et cetera.

"And most of the season will continue on in Europe, actually."

He says players can cope with being away from family, if rules are implemented to mean player entourages must be small, but hotel room quarantines are another matter.

"I have been hearing that there are some countries that don't want to accept people coming in from some specific countries because of the virus strains, different virus strains, so forth, and transmission, and God knows what," Djokovic said.

"I don't know how we're gonna handle with that, honestly. But we have to address this very quickly, I mean, because the season already started."

Djokovic, meanwhile, moves on to a clash with qualifier Aslan Karatsev, the 27-year-old Russian revelation of the tournament.

It took an explosion of anger from Djokovic, when trailing 3-1 in the third set against Zverev, to give him the spur to see off the German.

He smashed a racket so hard it left debris on the court that a ball girl was summoned to sweep up.

Djokovic said: "Of course I'm not proud of these kind of moments. To me it happens and then today it actually helped, even though I don't intentionally do it in order for it to help me. I just kind of let it go. Poor racket."

Novak Djokovic lost his temper but refused to let the prospect of Australian Open glory slip away as he edged out Alexander Zverev to reach the semi-finals.

The world number one destroyed a racket when trailing 3-1 in the third set, after he and Zverev split the opening two sets, and it was one of a number of moments when the Serbian showed heightened volatility during a 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-4 7-6 (8-6) win.

Still bothered by an abdominal problem that he sustained in the third round, Djokovic nevertheless strides on and will face Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev for a place in the final.

Zverev, who played in a bright yellow headband and vest top, with a gold medallion hanging from his neck, will look back on an opportunity missed.

As well as that third-set lead, Zverev was also up a break at the start of the fourth, but the US Open runner-up lacked the composure to convert those hard-earned positions.

If Djokovic's racket-smashing was a tactical move designed to gee himself up and distract Zverev, then it worked a treat.

A nip-and-tuck opener had gone the way of German world number seven Zverev, who then made a wretched start to the second set and was 4-0 behind in the blink of an eye.

Just as momentum began to swing back Zverev's way in the third, Djokovic went into his rage, with a ball girl summoned to clear up the mess the 33-year-old created.

Back came Djokovic as double faults began to leak from Zverev's racket, and soon they were into a fourth set.

Zverev led 3-0 but Djokovic was not going away, seizing on mistakes from an opponent who by the end of the second tie-break of the match could only wonder what might have been.

An ace from Djokovic finished off the contest. After eight titles at Melbourne Park, a hunger for more continues to define his every performance in Australia.

"Emotionally I feel a little bit drained. We pushed each other to the limit," Djokovic said in his on-court interview.

"Other than in the second set I started pretty poorly in all the other three sets. I lost my service very early in the first, third and fourth and allowed him to swing through the ball a bit more, but I regained my focus.

"I broke that racket and things started to shift a little bit for me in a positive direction."

Novak Djokovic admitted there was plenty of room for improvement after coming through a "difficult spot" at the Australian Open, where Nick Kyrgios thrilled the crowd with an impressive comeback.

Top seed Djokovic was made to work for his 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 triumph against Frances Tiafoe as he reached the third round in Melbourne. 

Kyrgios is also through, albeit he even surprised himself by rallying from the brink of defeat to knock out 29th seed Ugo Humbert in the evening session. 

Stan Wawrinka was on the wrong of an upset on Wednesday, but there were no such problems for fellow seeds Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic. 

Meanwhile, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime will have to put their friendship to one side when they face each other next, the former setting up the all-Canadian clash by beating Bernard Tomic in three sets.


'PASSIVE' DJOKOVIC STILL MAKING PROGRESS

In the first meeting between the pair, the impressive Tiafoe went toe-to-toe with Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena.  

The 23-year-old American's performance – coupled with the Melbourne heat – made the eight-time Australian Open champion sweat, albeit Djokovic felt he could have made life easier for himself.

"I was at times not feeling my timing as well as I normally am. Credit to him. I think he has managed to come out with a great performance and quality of tennis. He put me in a difficult spot," he said. 

"I had my chances early in the second set. If I broke him there, maybe the course of the match would be different.   

"But again, he was holding his serve very well. I was not really using my break-point chances very well. At times I was too passive. Just wasn't feeling the ball today as well as I normally do." 

Next up for Djokovic is another player from the United States in the form of Taylor Fritz, who ousted compatriot Reilly Opelka in a five-set battle.


IN THE NICK OF TIME

Kyrgios described his clash with Humbert as "one of the craziest matches I've ever played" after prevailing 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 - much to the delight of an enthralled audience who watched the drama unfold on John Cain Arena.

The Australian smashed a racket, lost his cool with umpire Marijana Veljovic over a faulty net cord sensor and had to save a pair of match points before eventually coming out on top in a see-saw battle.

"I just remember, down that end, when I was a couple of match points down, I don't know what was going on," Kyrgios - who dropped to his knees after sealing victory - said in his on-court interview.

"If you were inside my head, there were some dark thoughts in there. But I live to fight another day and hopefully I can continue to play good tennis in front of you guys."

His reward is a clash with Thiem, the third seed having dismissed the challenge of German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets as he dropped just six games.


STAN-D AND DELIVER

Wawrinka appeared on course to survive a serious scare when he rallied from two sets down against Marton Fucsovics, but the Swiss was unable to seize on the chances that came his way in a tense tie-break. 

Fucsovics had needed over four hours to overcome wild card Marc Polmans in the previous round and, once again, found a way to get over the finishing line at the end of a Melbourne marathon. 

The Hungarian trailed 6-1 during the decisive breaker, yet hit back to stun the 17th seed 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6 (11-9). For Wawrinka, there was frustration at the missed opportunities, albeit he also praised his conqueror. 
  
"From 6-1 up, I started to hesitate a little bit in the way I was playing," he said. "I wanted to put the ball maybe too much in and I [was] not going completely for my shots and that's when I started to miss a little bit and it helped him to come back in the match.  

"He was fighting well, he's a tough player, he's a good player and he deserved to win." 

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.

Daniil Medvedev won a marathon match against Alexander Zverev to send Russia into the final of the ATP Cup for the first time.

The world number four and reigning ATP Finals champion triumphed 3-6 6-3 7-5 at Melbourne Park in a match lasting just under two hours and 40 minutes.

That result clinched victory over Germany in the semi-final after Andrey Rublev had earler fought back in style from a set down to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6 6-1 6-2.

"We're really happy to get the win, that's the most important [thing," Medvedev said. "Tough matches [for] both of us. Both [Andrey and I] lost the first set. [It was] not easy, because we had two days off before the match. But happy we're in the final. That's the most important."

Zverev appeared in control after breaking to go 3-2 ahead in the second set after winning the first, but Medvedev reeled off four games in a row as the world number seven began to struggle with a lower back problem.

"When it's against Sascha and you are 6-3, 3-2, break down, many times you're going to lose a match," Medvedev said. "But I needed to keep my chances alive for the team first of all, for the country. I just tried to stay there, got a bit tight maybe. I just did my job and I'm really happy about it."

Russia will meet Italy in the final following their defeat of Spain, which was secured by Matteo Berrettini's straight-sets win over Roberto Bautista Agut.

After Fabio Fognini saw off Pablo Carreno Busta in three sets, Berrettini - who has beaten three of the top 13 players in the world without dropping a set in this tournament - won 6-3 7-5 to set up Sunday's Russia showdown.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," said a delighted Berrettini, who was absent last year as Italy failed to progress from their group in the inaugural staging of the event. "Last year I couldn't make it, so I'm really happy that the first time that I played we are into the final.

"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling pumped. I'm feeling great to play not just for me, but for my team and for Italy in general. That's what matters the most. I'm really looking forward to playing tomorrow."

 

SINNER TO FACE FAMILIAR FOE

There will be an all-Italian affair in the final of the Great Ocean Road Open, with Jannik Sinner to face Stefano Travaglia.

In-form Sinner clinched an impressive 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) win over second seed Karen Khachanov, in a three-hour battle, after his compatriot beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

At the Murray River Open, Felix Auger-Aliassime will meet Dan Evans in the final as each look to secure a first ATP Tour title.

Auger-Aliassime needed only 61 minutes to beat Corentin Moutet, while eighth seed Evans required a minute less to ease past Jeremy Chardy.

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