Rafael Nadal remains on course for a record-extending 14th French Open title after overcoming Diego Schwartzman in an intense quarter-final on Wednesday.

Schwartzman ended Nadal's run of 36 consecutive sets won at Roland Garros to level up the contest at one set apiece, but the Spaniard's quality told in the end.

The third seed held serve throughout a tense third set and eased through the fourth to take the match 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0 in two hours and 45 minutes in front of 5,000 spectators.

Nadal, who won nine games in a row to see out the contest, will now face either Novak Djokovic or Matteo Berrettini for a place in the final.

Like Nadal, Schwartzman had not dropped a set at this year's tournament heading into this showdown, but the Argentinian was broken in the sixth and eighth games of the first to fall behind.

However, Schwartzman played some sublime and attacking tennis to instantly hit back by twice breaking Nadal in the second set.

In doing so, he became just the third player to win a set in more than one match against Nadal at Roland Garros after Djokovic and Roger Federer.

A tight third set followed, with both players holding until the ninth game when Nadal took the second of his break points with a slice-lob combo.

That proved to be a turning point in the match as Nadal claimed the following game to wrap up the set and dominated a swift fourth set to book his place in a 14th semi-final.

Facing Rafael Nadal at the French Open is arguably the toughest challenge in sport, such is the King of Clay's incredible record at Roland Garros and, for Diego Schwartzman, forgetting about the 13-time champion and his reputation will be half the battle when he faces him in Wednesday's quarter-final.

Schwartzman is enjoying another excellent run at Roland Garros, having reached the semi-finals last year only to be defeated by Nadal in their 11th career meeting.

The Argentinian saw off Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets on Monday before Nadal recovered from a slow start to beat Jannik Sinner in three and set up a reunion in the last eight.

They are the only two players remaining in the draw who are yet to drop a set.

Schwartzman has a 1-10 record against Nadal but has the distinction of having beaten the Spaniard on clay, doing so in Rome in 2020.

And he took a set off Nadal in their first clash at Roland Garros back in 2018, though he could not do the same last year.

Asked about the prospect of a four or five-hour match with Nadal, Schwartzman told a media conference: "I think at the beginning of every match against Rafa, you have to walk on the court thinking to win the match, to have opportunities, to get opportunities, and think about something else and not think about Rafa on the other side of the net.

"If you think about the four, five hours you are going to play, if you think about everything about Rafa in Roland Garros, he's very difficult to play.

"You know, you have to go on court, think about the tactics, think about how to play your best game. 

"It's Rafa and you never know what is going to happen, and everyone knows that it's going to be very difficult.

"Playing against Rafa in these kind of tournaments, it's always, I mean, a good step, a good time to know how good are you playing. It's always a good challenge.

"I want to be there one more time. I beat him one time, so is not the same thing. I know we played two times here were good matches, and now let's see what happens. I have to enjoy today, day free tomorrow, and let's see what happens on Wednesday."

Nadal heads into the contest content with his overall performance against Sinner, who failed to serve for the first set and could not produce a turnaround in the second despite fighting from 4-0 down to get back on serve at 4-3.

"I think I started the first two games playing great. Then I had a bad game with 2-0 and with the wind helping, so that was a big mistake. Then I started to play too much against his backhand and too far from the baseline. So then I give him the chance to be inside the court and to have the control of the point from inside," said Nadal.

"From that position he's dangerous. I was a little bit farther every time, no, from the baseline. Then I was able to have the break back in the 5-4 with the wind helping. I know that was a chance. So it was important to hold my serve with the 5-3 against the wind.

"Then with the 5-4, you know that you can have your chances. So that's what happened. I won that game. I had the break. Then I play a solid game with my serve.

"Then from that moment to 7-5, 4-0 I think I played very good level of tennis. Then again, couple of mistakes and he played well, honestly. Four-three until that moment to the
end of the match I think I played great."

Rafael Nadal has tipped Alexei Popyrin for greatness after being tested by the youngster in the opening match of his latest French Open title defence.

World number three Nadal saved two set points in the third set on his way to a well-earned 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory in Tuesday's contest at Roland Garros.

It means that only three players have taken a set from the Spaniard at the grand slam event since 2016 – Diego Schwartzman, David Goffin and Dominic Thiem.

Nadal's victory over Popyrin was his 31st in a row in Paris since 2015 and keeps him on course for a record-extending 14th triumph in the French capital.

The third seed was impressed by what he saw from his 21-year-old opponent, who showed admirable resistance by saving four break points to force a tie-break in the third set.

"With this serve, with these kinds of shots from the baseline, he has everything to become a top player," Nadal said. "If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game.

"He has everything to become a great, or at least a fantastic player. Let's see. Let's see what is going on in the next couple of months and years."

Asked about his impressive record of rarely dropping a set, Nadal said: "We are playing best-of-five. The other player needs to win two more sets to beat you.

"I know I'm going to be there fighting for every single point. Of course I don't want to lose the set at all, but that's part of the game.

"I'm happy to win that third set. I don't know how I won it, but I did, and I'm glad."

RUBLEV BEATEN BY BIG-SERVING STRUFF

Nadal's path to another French Open title is a little clearer following seventh seed Andrey Rublev's surprise first-round exit to world number 42 Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rublev had reached the quarter-final stage at his previous three majors and was much fancied to go far in Paris, but he fell 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 6-4 to the big-serving Struff.

The German hit 25 aces on his way to beating a top-10 opponent at a grand slam for the first time, setting up a second-round meeting with Facundo Bagnis.

"I was feeling fine," Rublev said after the defeat. "I practiced well. I don't know why I lost. I think we played a good level today. I played a solid two sets, third and fourth, and then the fifth set.

"I think I should have won the second set, but this is tennis. I was serving for the set and I didn't make it, then in the tie-break I was a bit unlucky and he played well."

MONFILS ENDS SLAM DROUGHT

Fan favourite Gael Monfils battled back from a set down to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-4 and earn his first grand slam win since the 2020 Australian Open.

Monfils has struggled since tennis resumed last year after the coronavirus-enforced break, with Tuesday's win on home soil just his second this season.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev kicked off his French Open campaign with victory over Jenson Brooksby in three sets.

Tenth seed Schwartzman, who reached the last four in Paris last year, saw off Lu Yen-hsun 6-2 6-2 6-3 in his opening match.

Matteo Berrettini was made to work a little harder for his victory against Taro Daniel, the ninth seed advancing through 6-0 6-4 4-6 6-4.

There was an upset later in the day, though, as number 20 seed Felix Auger Aliassime was beaten in four sets by world number 98 Andreas Seppi.

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.

Carlos Alcaraz, a 17-year-old wildcard, will face Rafael Nadal in the second round of the Madrid Open, with the top seeds set to get their campaigns underway on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Alcaraz, featuring in an ATP Masters 1000 event for just the second time, was in impressive form as he saw off France's Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-0.

The teenager, who will face Nadal on his 18th birthday on Wednesday, fired 19 winners as he took the initiative against his more experienced opponent and his reward is significant.

He became the tournament's youngest ever match winner, beating the record set by Nadal.

"For me, [to] play against Rafa is a dream come true," Alcaraz said as he readies himself to go up against the 20-time grand slam winner.

"Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able to here [on] the Centre Court of La Caja Magica in Madrid. It is a really special match against Rafa."

He told Tennis Channel: "It's the best present for my birthday."

The biggest casualty of the day was 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who lost 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5) to Lloyd Harris early on, the South African now 4-0 against top-20 opponents this year.

Two qualifiers in Pablo Andujar and Marcos Giron played out a remarkable encounter that lasted three hours and 21 minutes.

The first set alone clocked in at just over an hour and a half, but eventually Giron came through the gruelling clash 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 to set up a meeting with third seed Dominic Thiem.

Fabio Fognini defeated Carlos Taberner 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-3 for the right to face eighth seed and Italian countryman Matteo Berrettini.

Diego Schwartzman, the seventh seed, awaits Aslan Karatsev after he beat Ugo Humbert in straight sets in what was the Russian's debut appearance at the tournament.

Dan Evans and John Isner were among the other players to secure progress on Monday.

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.

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.

Top seed Daniil Medvedev powered his way into the Miami Open quarter-finals, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev on Tuesday.

Medvedev won in straight sets against unseeded American Frances Tiafoe, hitting 24 winners.

Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas won in straight sets against 24th seed Lorenzo Sonego, although the second went to a tie-break which the Greek dominated.

World number eight Andrey Rublev got past Marin Cilic in straight sets to book his last-eight spot.

Fifth seed Diego Schwartzman was the major casualty on Tuesday, losing to unseeded American Sebastian Korda in three sets. Seeds Josh Isner, Milos Raonic and Taylor Fritz also exited.

 

TOP SEED EASES INTO LAST EIGHT

World number two Medvedev was too good for Tiafoe in a 6-4 6-3 victory.

Medvedev improved his 2021 record to 17-2, sending down 11 aces with a dominant first-serve display while taking three of his four break points.

The 2021 Australian Open runner-up will meet seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut in his maiden Miami Open quarter-finals appearance.

"It was definitely a tough match," the Russian said in his post-match on-court interview. "I am just looking forward to tomorrow. Roberto is a hell of a player.

"I feel like sometimes, when I have practised with him and played against him, that his ranking should be higher. There are reasons why it is not and I am going to try to do something with it tomorrow."

STEFANOS SIZZLES PAST SONEGO

Tsitsipas kept up his good form after making last month's Australian Open semi-finals, by booking his first Miami Open quarter-final appearance.

The Greek world number five defeated Sonego 6-2 7-6 (7-2) with a clinical performance to keep alive his dream of a maiden ATP Masters title.

Tsitsipas won in just over an hour and a half, proving too good on serve, having not offered up one break point and winning 89 per cent of first-serve points.

He was also too good with his return for the Italian, winning 35 per cent of the points on Sonego's serve.

The Greek will take on Polish 26th seed Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight, after he knocked out 12th seed Raonic 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

 

FIFTH SEED TOPPLED BY KORDA

World number nine Schwartzman was knocked out in three sets by Korda 6-3 4-6 7-5 as he continues his super run.

Florida resident Korda, 20, reached his maiden ATP 1000 quarter-final, showing fight after the Argentinian raised his game in the second set, winning after an early break in the last.

Rublev made light work of former US Open champion Marin Cilic, triumphing 6-4 6-4.

Bautista Agut got past 18th seed Isner 6-3 4-6 7-6 (9-7), while Jannik Sinner defeated Alexander Zverev's conqueror Emil Ruusuvuori 6-3 6-2.

Alexander Bublik, seeded 32nd, sent down 23 aces as he beat Taylor Fritz 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4.

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas battled through to the Miami Open round of 16 and he was joined by Andrey Rublev on Monday.

Greek star and second seed Tsitsipas got the better of 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori in Miami.

Rublev continued his fine 2021 with a straight-sets demolition of Marton Fucsovics at the ATP 1000 tournament.

In-form Aslan Karatsev, however, bowed out following a surprise loss to Sebastian Korda.

 

TSITSIPAS HALTS NISHIKORI

Despite a mid-match wobble, Tsitsipas overcame Nishikori 6-3 3-6 6-1 to reach the fourth round.

Former world number four Nishikori forced a deciding set but Tsitsipas withstood the Japanese's comeback.

Tsitsipas, who hit 32 winners, will meet Lorenzo Sonego for a place in the quarter-finals after the 24th seed defeated Daniel Elahi Galan 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

 

RUBLEV STAYS HOT

Russian fourth seed Rublev made light work of Fucsovics 6-2 6-1 in just 52 minutes.

Rublev leads the ATP Tour with 18 victories this season after eliminating the in-form Hungarian, ahead of top seed Daniil Medvedev (16-2).

The result secured a third win for Rublev over 29th seed Fucsovics this month.

"I was laughing, because of [the] situation and plus Marton also told me, 'I don't want to see you. I don't want to see you'," Rublev said, cracking a laugh. "[It was] just a situation that [was] fun, and I feel sorry."

Awaiting Rublev is 2014 US Open champion and former world number three Marin Cilic, who beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-4.

 

KARATSEV CONQUERED

For only the third time this year, Australian Open semi-finalist and Dubai Tennis Championships winner Karatsev tasted defeat following a 6-3 6-0 loss at the hands of Korda.

American sensation Korda became the first player outside the top five to beat Karatsev this year, with the latter's previous two losses coming against world number one Novak Djokovic and world number four Dominic Thiem.

"It is super special [to reach the Round of 16], especially playing a guy who was as hot as he was," said Korda. "I just took the tactics that I used [against him] at Roland Garros and it worked out really well today."

Diego Schwartzman stands in the way of Korda and the quarters after the fifth seed accounted for Adrian Mannarino 6-1 6-4.

Elsewhere, Denis Shapovalov – the sixth seed – was upstaged by Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

Another Canadian awaits Hurkacz after 12th seed Milos Raonic was a 6-4 7-5 winner against Ugo Humbert.

Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his strong run of form en route to the Miami Open third round, while Aslan Karatsev's maintained his fairytale run in 2021.

Greek star Tsitsipas flexed his muscles in a straight-sets win over Damir Dzumhur on Saturday.

Australian Open semi-finalist and Dubai Tennis Championships winner Karatsev enjoyed a victorious Miami debut.

Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman, Denis Shapovalov, Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic also progressed at the ATP 1000 tournament.

 

TSITSIPAS STAYS HOT

World number five Tsitsipas eased past Dzumhur 6-1 6-4 in his first appearance since losing in last week's Mexican Open final.

Tsitsipas (15-4) became the third player to reach 15 wins this season, the second seed following in the footsteps of Russian duo Rublev (17-3) and Daniil Medvedev (15-2).

"It was a great match, especially against a guy that I probably don't have a good record playing against in the past," said Tsitsipas. "I started the match very strong, breaking him twice and taking a big lead in the score, and I think the things worked out by themselves after that."

Tsitsipas will face Kei Nishikori after the Japanese outlasted Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 6-4.

 

NO STOPPING KARATSEV

Karatsev's Miami Open debut ended in a 6-4 6-3 win for the 17th-seeded Russian over Mikhail Kukushkin.

Already in the ATP's top 100 and set to keep climbing, Karatsev broke serve four times en route to the next round, where Sebastian Korda awaits after upstaging 10th seed Fabio Fognini 1-6 6-4 6-2.

"Of course it gives me confidence to win my first title, but you arrive here and it’s a different surface and new tournament," said Karatsev, who ended last season ranked 112th before bursting into the top 30 behind his semi-final run at Melbourne Park. "So you try [to think of it] as a new tournament and new place, but of course it gives me a lot of confidence."

Karatsev owns a 13-2 record this year, with his only two losses coming against world number one Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Dominic Thiem.

 

RUBLEV ROLLS ON

Fourth seed Rublev has proven to be remarkably consistent, highlighted by his crushing 6-1 6-2 rain-interrupted victory against Tennys Sandgren.

Having equalled his previous best run in Miami, Rublev will play 29th seed Marton Fucsovics who took down Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4.

Rublev has won a Tour-leading 17 matches this year.

Elsewhere, fifth seed Schwartzman was a 6-3 6-3 winner against Yasutaka Uchiyama, Shapovalov – the sixth seed – trumped Ilya Ivashka 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 in a marathon, 12th seed Raonic accounted for Jordan Thompson 6-2 6-1, former US Open winner Cilic surprised 13th seed Christian Garin 3-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5), while 15th seed Alex de Minaur was eliminated.

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti may be ranked 120th in the world but he claimed his maiden top-10 scalp on Tuesday, beating Diego Schwartzman in the first round of the Mexican Open.

Musetti, the Australian Open boys' singles champion in 2019, secured a 6-3 2-6 6-4 win over ninth-ranked Schwartzman in a stunning success.

"There is a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and I think some tears left in my eyes," the 19-year-old said during his on-court interview.

"I'm really proud of myself, but now I'm going to work harder and focus on the next days."

Musetti, whose forehand was excellent, defeated both Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori at the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome last year.

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas had no such trouble, easing into the second round, where he will face big-serving American John Isner.

The Greek world number five beat France's Benoit Paire 6-3 6-1, aided by a strong display on serve.

"I didn't know what to expect from Benoit today," Tsitsipas said. "I think it's kind of tricky playing a tournament you haven't played before."

On facing 27th-ranked Isner next up, Tsitsipas added: "He's a guy that serves really well so that's going to be the biggest element and the one thing that I'll really have to resolve during that match."

Fourth seed Milos Raonic sent down 13 aces as he defeated American Tommy Paul 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

In the late match, fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov got past Adrian Mannarino, who retired when trailing 6-4 3-0.

Diego Schwartzman claimed his first ATP Tour title on home soil as he defeated qualifier Francisco Cerundolo in the final of the Argentina Open on Sunday.

After losing in his two previous finals in Argentina, Schwartzman finally came good in his home city of Buenos Aires with a 6-1 6-2 victory. 

The world number nine was in complete control from the off, breaking six times and conceding on his serve just once as he took just 81 minutes to wrap up a fourth Tour title.

Cerundolo's run to the final had at least ensured that whoever came out on top in the showdown would result in the first Argentine champion of the competition since 2008, when David Nalbandian triumphed in a clash with compatriot Jose Acasuso.

"I'm very, very happy, it's been an amazing week for me," Schwartzman said in the trophy presentation.

"It's the first time that [I have won at] home. Two years ago, I reached the final here and lost. I was very unhappy, but two years later I have my revenge against Francisco who is a great player."

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.

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