Roger Federer returned to action at the Halle Open on Monday and won his first match on grass since the 2019 Wimbledon final.

Federer has endured two torrid years on the ATP Tour, missing most of 2020 due to double knee surgery.

The 20-time grand slam champion had then been limited to six matches this season heading into this week.

Having finally found some momentum at the French Open, Federer withdrew from his fourth-round match and explained: "It's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery."

But the Swiss great was fit to finally step back out on a grass court for the first time since coming up short against Novak Djokovic at the All England Club.

And it was a winning return as Federer battled past Ilya Ivashka 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 in Germany.

Ivashka squandered two break point opportunities early in the opener and was quickly on the back foot after the set went to a tie-break, saving three set points but not a fourth.

Federer stayed patient in a second that stayed on serve initially, belatedly piling on the pressure to break in the final game having earlier passed up a match point at 5-4.

Fifth seed Federer was the only seed to win on Monday, however, as Sebastian Korda upset Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets and David Goffin gave Corentin Moutet a walkover.

There was a standout shock at the Queen's Club Championships, too, as talented teenager Jannik Sinner was pipped by home hopeful Jack Draper 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-2).

Draper's compatriot Cameron Norrie joined him in the last 16, battling back to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three.

Rafael Nadal continued on his serene path to a 14th French Open title by seeing off Jannik Sinner in straight sets.

Having seen Italian compatriot Lorenzo Musetti take Novak Djokovic to five sets earlier on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Sinner made a strong start against the King of Clay.

However, whereas Musetti took two sets from the world number one before being outpunched by Djokovic, Sinner was swiftly reeled back in after spurning a chance to win the first set.

The 19-year-old's spirited efforts were undermined by 40 unforced errors, offering Nadal far too many opportunities to press home the gulf in class and experience in a 7-5 6-3 6-0 win.

Nadal held to love in his first service game and then immediately broke Sinner. However, he was uncharacteristically sloppy across his next two service games, sending down three double faults, as Sinner reversed the tide to surge into a 4-2 lead.

Yet the teenager crumbled as he failed to serve out the set, surrendering a break to love with a double fault.

Then tasked with serving to stay in the set, Sinner had no answer for Nadal, who was now in full flow, an exquisite drop shot bringing up three set points. Sinner saved one, but Nadal's defence forced him into a forehand error that handed the Spaniard his 33rd consecutive set at Roland Garros.

A scorching cross-court backhand saw Nadal craft an early break in the second and he seemingly had a stranglehold on the contest after going 4-0 up.

Sinner surprisingly rattled off the next three games to get back on serve, only to instantly cede the advantage back to Nadal, who subsequently wrapped up the second set with a powerful serve down the middle.

And there was no fightback from Sinner in the third as Nadal coasted to a last-eight clash with Diego Schwartzman, who won earlier against Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rafael Nadal set another French Open record and hit one more grand slam milestone with victory on Saturday, while world number one Novak Djokovic also progressed at Roland Garros.

Nadal, a 13-time French Open champion, reached the last 16 of the tournament for a record 16th time by beating Cameron Norrie 6-3 6-3 6-3.

It marks the 50th time Nadal has made it through to the fourth round of a grand slam in his outstanding career. Djokovic is second on the all-time list with 54 appearances in the last 16 of a major – behind only Roger Federer - after he saw off Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-4 6-1 in just 92 minutes.

While Nadal is set for a repeat of last year's quarter-final against Jannik Sinner, top seed Djokovic will be taking on another promising youngster in the form of Lorenzo Musetti.

DJOKOVIC THRILLED WITH HAMILTON COMPARISON

Djokovic is yet to drop a set at Roland Garros in 2021, with last year's beaten finalist – who is well on course to meet up with his old foe Nadal in the last four this time around – looking every bit worthy of his status as top seed.

His dominant display against Berankis drew comparisons, from one commentator at least, to Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

"It's like the dominance of Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team. Berankis is a great driver, he maximises everything under the hood. But Novak Djokovic is driving a completely different race car," said former French Open champion Jim Courier.

"Berankis can't do the same things. On the same track, he can't race the same. Novak can drive how he wants."

It was a comparison which delighted Djokovic.

"Well, I'm honoured to be compared to Lewis. I respect Lewis and everything he does in his career, but also, off the track with his activism," said the 34-year-old, who is hunting a 19th major win. "Something that truly inspires me and a lot of athletes.

"I don't want to talk about my driving next to Lewis' name. Honestly, it's embarrassing to speak about my driving, and in the same sentence with Hamilton! But the analogy and the comparison of my game with an F1 car, it's definitely something that pleases me."

NADAL ENJOYING ROLAND GARROS BACKING

Given his sensational achievements in Paris down the years, it is no surprise that Nadal feels right at home whenever he returns to Roland Garros.

There were, of course, no fans allowed into the stands last year, but a limited number of spectators, including his family, are on hand to cheer him on once more this time.

"It is true that for the last year and a half it has been difficult for every player, although I didn't play so much," Nadal said.

"Those who have been travelling week after week without the chance to have family and a full team with them is very tough. They have been challenging conditions.

"For me it is very important to have the team and family behind me, because of them I am what I am today. I'm happy to have crowds, that is so important for us."

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Though the era of dominance enjoyed by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is only just starting to show signs of slowing down – albeit they still monopolise the grand slams – round four is going to throw up two fascinating contests.

Sinner came up against Nadal in the 2020 quarter-finals, and the Italian will be looking to cause an almighty upset this time around after overcoming Mikael Ymer.

Joining Sinner in the last 16 is his compatriot and fellow teenager Musetti, who has the small task of taking on the world's best player following a hard-fought victory over Marco Cecchinato.

It is the first time two teenagers have reached the fourth round at Roland Garros since Djokovic and Gael Monfils did so in 2006.

Rafael Nadal eased into the second week of the French Open with a 6-3 6-3 6-3 triumph over Cameron Norrie during Saturday's play at Roland Garros.

The defending champion is still yet to drop a set while sailing through to the last 16, where he will take on Jannik Sinner in a repeat of last year's quarter-final clash between the pair.

Nadal was not at his absolute peak against Norrie – he committed 29 unforced errors and had problems holding his serve in the second set, though the Spaniard still produced when it mattered to beat the Briton comfortably enough.

A solitary break was enough to take the opening set, but the third seed was made to work hard in the next – at one stage even finding himself 3-1 down.

After a backhand winner put him up 40-30 in the fourth game, Norrie flashed a fabulous forehand past his opponent to register a second successive break. Crucially, though, he could not consolidate on each occasion.

Indeed, Nadal claimed the next five games as he seized control in imperious fashion, wrapping up the second set after 42 minutes courtesy of a stunning passing shot that was followed by a roar of approval towards his watching team.

With his forehand now in full flow, Nadal motored towards the finishing line in the third and final set.

A break in the fourth game edged him in front and while unable to seal the result at the first attempt when having a match point on his opponent's serve, the king of clay fashioned yet another straight-sets win in the French capital.

Norrie made him work to the very end, at one point sitting at 30-30 in the ninth game, but the relentless pursuit of a record-extending 14th French title continues for Nadal.


Data Slam: Rafa adds another win to the collection

Nadal is now 103-2 for his career at the French Open and is unbeaten in his previous 33 outings at the event. Such is his dominance, the left-hander has secured 32 sets in a row since he lost the second in the 2019 final against Dominic Thiem. 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 35/29
Norrie – 15/21

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal – 3/2
Norrie – 2/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal – 6/12
Norrie – 2/3

Roger Federer is enjoying the "whole rhythm thing" of playing at a grand slam again but admits he has no idea what he is capable of achieving at the French Open.

The Swiss looked sharp in his first-round match on Monday against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, posting a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win – coming through his first match at a major since the 2020 Australian Open and subsequent knee surgery.

It was partly his prowess but perhaps also the shortcomings of Istomin's performance that allowed 2009 champion Federer to put on a show on Court Philippe Chatrier, setting up a clash with a familiar foe in Marin Cilic next.

Federer and Cilic will be going head to head for an 11th time – Federer leads the series 9-1 – and for the first time since the 2018 Australian Open final, which went the way of Basle's 20-time grand slam winner in five sets.

It will be their sixth clash in a slam and at the earliest stage they have encountered each other at a major, with those past tussles also including the 2017 Wimbledon final, when an injury-hampered Cilic lost in straight sets.

Federer spoke after beating Istomin of how it is difficult to gauge what he might go on to manage at Roland Garros.

"In a way, I like this situation, that I don't know what's next, how my next match will be. I don't even know who I play, to be honest," Federer said.

"I take it round by round, match by match. I think it's going to help me, with the way I go about it. I'm very happy I won today. It gives me a chance again to test myself on Thursday, I believe. I don't know when I'm playing.

"So see how I feel tomorrow morning. Just all these things going through practice, coming to the site, seeing people, just this whole rhythm thing.

"It's nice to be back in it."

Federer is in Paris without his family due to COVID-19 restrictions and worries it will be the same story at Wimbledon.

But he added: "We signed up for it. I didn't do rehab to then sit at home again. There's a lot to look forward to."

MEDVEDEV WINS AT LAST

Daniil Medvedev's status as the second seed in Paris was the factor that made it possible for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to be drawn in the same half of the draw, which is what transpired.

There is an element of farce about Medvedev being seeded above 13-time Roland Garros champion Nadal, because the Russian has gone out in the first round in each of his previous visits to the clay-court slam.

However, on Monday, the world number two made a breakthrough, winning well in a match where he was expected to run into trouble as he earned a 6-3 6-3 7-5 victory over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik.

"It doesn't feel different than the Australian Open for me coming into this tournament. Now when I'm coming to these big tournaments feeling like this, I know I'm capable of doing big things," Medvedev said.

"If I lose here in Roland Garros it's probably going to be because my opponent will play really good."

NEXTGEN MAKE EARLY IMPACT

David Goffin, the Belgian 13th seed, lost 6-0 7-5 7-6 (7-3) to 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, and it was a day when the sight of 39-year-old Federer turning on the style was balanced by the inspiring sight of the next generation showing their potential.

Musetti's fellow Italian Jannik Sinner is also 19 and is the 18th seed, showing on Monday he has the fight to come through tough battles, rallying from two sets to one down to beat experienced French player Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4.

It was the first time Sinner had won a deciding set in a best-of-five match.

Sinner, Musetti and Spain's Carlos Alcaraz could all be major factors at Roland Garros in future years.

Alcaraz, who turned 18 in early May, followed up his run through qualifying and to the second round of the Australian Open by doing the same in the French capital.

He dropped only 11 games in winning three best-of-three-set qualifiers last week and was too strong for his 24-year-old compatriot Bernabe Zapata Miralles, snatching a 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) win for a first senior win at Roland Garros.

"I think the mental game is really, really important in this kind of matches," Alcaraz said. "You have to be focused and calm all the match, like three hours and 10 minutes.

"It's really important and not easy to do. In the match I trusted a lot in my physical side. I could play really, really good game during the whole match."

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.

Dominic Thiem surged to an emphatic victory on his return to the ATP Tour at the Madrid Open.

US Open champion and two-time Madrid Open runner-up Thiem was playing his first match in nearly two months on Tuesday, having taken a break to recharge.

But it did not take him long to get back into the groove, the third seed easing through his second-round match with American qualifier Marcos Giron 6-1 6-3 at the ATP 1000 event.

"I was uncertain how things will be going. The game worked out very well in the past days of practice, but I was always practising on the outside courts which are faster, which are smaller, so I was just not sure how it was going to be in the match," Thiem said.

"But there were some things which I think made [the match] a little bit easier after such a long time, especially the conditions in Madrid, which are great for me.

"Then [I have] amazing memories on this court, where I already played probably some of the best matches of my career. I think that's why things worked out quite well tonight."

Next for Thiem in the last 16 is Alex de Minaur, who was leading 6-2 3-0 when Lloyd Harris retired from their match.

It was a largely strong day for the seeded players in the Spanish capital, home hope and ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut beating Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 in a first-round clash.

Andrey Rublev – the sixth seed – came from a set down to beat Tommy Paul 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 and eighth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini joins him in the last 16 after defeating compatriot Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-4.

Jannik Sinner, who is seeded 14th, won in the first round after Guido Pella retired in the second set. However, four seeds did tumble out of the draw.

Felix Auger-Aliassime was thrashed 6-1 6-4 by Casper Ruud in the first round and his Canadian compatriot Denis Shapovalov was beaten 6-4 5-7 6-4 by Alexander Bublik in their second-round encounter.

Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz suffered a second successive second-round exit, the 12th seed defeated 5-7 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 by John Millman in a match that went the distance having lost at the same stage in Monte Carlo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It's always good for me to see what I can do on clay," Sinner said, quoted on the ATP website. "Obviously, I am not in the best form on clay now for the first week.

"But I think today was a solid match from my side. It was not easy. He's not giving [away] one point, so you have to stay there the whole match. I think I played a good match from my side."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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