Stefanos Tsitsipas defended his Monte Carlo Masters crown and lifted his eighth ATP Tour title by defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets on Sunday.

Greek Tsitsipas, who defeated Andrey Rublev to triumph in Monaco last year, eased past second seed Alexander Zverev in the semi-final and repeated the trick with a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) victory over Davidovich Fokina.

The Spaniard beat Novak Djokovic and reigning Indian Wells Masters champion Taylor Fritz en route to his maiden ATP Tour final, and started well on Court Rainier III with an early break.

However, Tsitsipas found his rhythm with his ferocious forehand to break back before winning four of the next five games to take the lead.

The world number five, appearing in his fourth Masters 1000 final, then failed to serve out for the match at 5-4 up in the second set, but recovered in the tie-break to secure his first trophy of the season.

In doing so, Tsitsipas becomes the sixth player to manage consecutive Monte Carlo titles in the Open Era, while half of his eight tour-level titles have come on clay.

"I am very proud of myself," Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. "Things weren't going well at one point, but I managed to stay composed to finish the match off.

"I am really proud with the belief I put in my game. Sometimes you doubt yourself, but it is always important to keep your head high."

Davidovich Fokina was aiming to become the first unseeded champion in Monte Carlo since Thomas Muster in 1992, and Tsitsipas acknowledged the 22-year-old made him fight to reclaim the trophy.

"He fought in moments I didn't expect him to fight," Tsitsipas said. "He can hit incredible winners out of nowhere and play unpredictably.

"But I was able to minimise that. I knew he would be a dangerous opponent but that is a great win for me. I think we will see great results from him in the future."

Stefanos Tsitsipas remains on course for a second consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title after recording a straight-sets semi-final win over Alexander Zverev.

The third seed, who defeated Andrey Rublev to clinch the title in Monaco last year, produced a scintillating performance to beat the world number three 6-4 6-2 in Saturday's last-four encounter.

Tsitsipas will face world number 46 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Sunday's final, and the Greek said he will need to perform at an even higher level to defeat the 22-year-old, whose incredible run continued with a three-set win over Grigor Dimitrov in the final four.

"It was good," Tstispas told Amazon Prime Video of his semi-final win. "I don't know whether the long match [his three-set quarter-final win over Diego Schwartzman on Friday] gave me some rhythm, but I was able to play good tennis today. I'm happy with the level I was able to execute, and I came up with some good ideas on the court.

"I'm looking forward to the next one, I have a difficult opponent tomorrow, so I need to be ready and to take the best out of this one and move on.

"It's going to take a little bit more [to beat Davidovich Fokina], he's in a good rhythm. I've played him before, and he's a difficult opponent, I'm going to be as ready as possible, he's definitely improved and I'm going to have to produce the best tennis I can."

Davidovich Fokina, who has made headlines by eliminating Novak Djokovic and Indian Wells Masters champion Taylor Fritz during a thrilling run in the municipality, beat Dimitrov 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 earlier on Saturday, reaching his first ATP Tour final.

The unseeded Spaniard needed two hours and 43 minutes to wrap up his semi-final contest, and revealed that a bathroom break allowed him to reset his mind and clinch a hard-fought victory after he failed to serve out the second set at 5-4 up.

"I am so happy to be in the final, it's a dream come true to try to have the title," he said after the win.

"When I was a kid, I was dreaming about this day and it's come true, I'm so happy.

"In the second set I had my chances, I was so tight. But I went to the bathroom [after the second set] and I said to myself 'I want this'. Now I am in the final, I will enjoy, I have all the power with me."

Reigning Monte Carlo Masters champion Stefanos Tsitsipas will have to overcome Alexander Zverev if he is to have the chance to defend his title.

Zverev, who is ranked third in the world - two places higher than Tsitsipas - fought back to defeat Jannik Sinner 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in his quarter-final match, denying his opponent another top-five seed scalp following his prior win over Andrey Rublev.

"It means a lot, definitely, especially [with] how this year has been going so far for me," said Zverev after a gruelling three hours on court.

"I've lost long matches like that, so I’m happy I won this one."

Tsitsipas also orchestrated a superb turnaround against Diego Schwartzman, prevailing 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-4.

The Greek had looked set for a last-eight exit at four games down in the final set, only to stage a dramatic comeback to keep his hopes of a first title since last May's Lyon Open alive.

"There was a moment in the match where I felt what I was doing wasn't working," Tsitsipas said.

"He had a massive lead and momentum in what he was trying to do. I just tried to stay in the match as much as I could and that worked out very well.

"I wasn't expecting much at that point being a double break down, so I relaxed at that point."

Schwartzman meanwhile will rue his inability to put the tie to bed, having already reached two ATP finals this year.

Grigor Dimitrov and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina will face off in the other semi-final.

Bulgarian Dimitrov beat off Hubert Hurkacz in another final-set tie-break, winning 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2).

Fokina, who eliminated Novak Djokovic in the second round, turned over Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz in another comeback result, triumphing 2-6 6-4 6-3.

Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed to the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters with straight sets wins on Thursday, remaining on course for a final meeting.

Last year's runner-up Andrey Rublev, however, missed out on a last-eight spot after falling to a three-set defeat against Jannik Sinner.

World number three Zverev overcame Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2 7-5 to progress in Monaco, where he is seeking to win the sixth ATP 1000 title of his career.

"For the second clay-court match of the season, I can't complain too much," the 24-year-old second seed said on court after sealing the victory.

"Yes, I lost focus a little bit in the second set, but at the end of the day, he's somebody that can really play. I'm happy with a two-set win."

Tsitsipas (3) remains in contention for a second consecutive title in the principality after defeating Laslo Dere 7-5 7-6 (7-1) and will face off against 12th seed Diego Schwartzman for a semi-final spot after the Argentine defeated Lorenzo Musetti in a hard-fought three-set encounter.

There will be no repeat of 2021's final between Tsitsipas and Rublev, however, after the Russian fell to a thrilling 5-7 6-1 6-3 loss to ninth seed Sinner in the day's final contest.

The other seed to fall victim to a shock in the last 16 was world number seven Casper Ruud, losing 6-3 7-5 to Grigor Dimitrov, who will face Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight. 

Finally, Novak Djokovic's conqueror Alejandro Davidovich Fokina cruised past David Goffin 6-4 6-1 to set up a quarter-final tie with the United States' Taylor Fritz, who bested compatriot Sebastian Korda – with whom he played doubles with in Monte Carlo – in straight sets.

Lorenzo Musetti headlined a day of shocks at the Monte Carlo Masters as Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to a first-round defeat.

Auger-Aliassime already has one singles title to his name this year, having prevailed in Rotterdam, and also reached the final of the Open 13 in Marseille and helped Canada to victory in the ATP Cup at the start of 2022.

However, the sixth seed entered this contest with just one win from his last four matches and came unstuck once again at the hands of Musetti. 

Musetti, who won two sets in the fourth round of the French Open against Novak Djokovic last year, is very much at home on the clay in Monaco.

He demonstrated that in 6-2 7-6 (7-2) success, setting up a last-16 meeting with Diego Schwartzman.

“I live here and practice here,” Musetti said in his on-court interview. "It is nice to be here and play here in front of such a crowd. I am really happy.

"My backhand down the line was a key to many of my great shots. After a really good first set, he came back with such powerful serving, but I was calm and patient and that was the most beautiful thing about today."

Auger-Aliassime's exit came a day after top seed Djokovic was knocked out in the second round by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, but there were no such problems for second seed Alexander Zverev as he saw off Federico Delbonis in straight sets.

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev came from a set down to defeat Alex de Minaur and fourth seed Casper Ruud, coming off his defeat in the final in Miami, edged qualifier Holger Rune in two tight sets.

The man who vanquished Ruud in Florida will go no further on the Cote d'Azur, however, Carlos Alcaraz losing in just over three hours to Sebastian Korda on his Monte Carlo debut.

Korda lost to Alcaraz in the final of last year's Next Gen ATP Finals, but avenged that defeat with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 victory.

World number 10 Cameron Norrie lost to Albert-Ramos Vinolas and his British compatriot Dan Evans fell to David Goffin, while 16th seed Lorenzo Sonego was beaten by the in-form Laslo Djere.

Elsewhere in the draw, there were wins for Jannik Sinner, Taylor Fritz, Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta.

Novak Djokovic suffered a stunning defeat in his first ATP Tour match since February, the world number one losing in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Djokovic's status as an unvaccinated player has limited his ability to compete on the tour this year. He missed the Australian Open in January after a saga surrounding his visa eventually resulted in his deportation on public health grounds, while laws around vaccination against COVID-19 in the United States prevented him from playing at Indian Wells and Miami.

Despite his inactivity, the Serbian - whose sole appearance on tour this year came during a run to the quarter-finals in Dubai - was expected to prevail on the clay against his Spanish opponent after receiving a bye in the first round.

But there were evident signs of rust in a mistake-riddled display against the world number 46, who remarkably emerged victorious to set up a meeting with either Dan Evans or David Goffin.

The tide looked to have turned in the second set tie-break, when an exquisite whipped forehand from Djokovic sent the match to a decider.

However, Djokovic, who committed 51 unforced errors, immediately surrendered the momentum by dropping serve in the first game of the third and he was broken twice more as Davidovich Fokina powered to a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 victory in just under three hours.

"I knew that Nole hasn't had that confidence because he didn't play a lot," Davidovich Fokina said.

"This win is so special for me. I look at him every tournament. Here in Monte Carlo, full people [capacity], against the number one, I enjoy every moment."

Earlier, Evans saw off Benjamin Bonzi while Goffin, fresh off his triumph in Marrakech, came through against Jiri Lehecka to set up their second-round meeting.

Tenth seed Taylor Fritz defeated Monegasque wild card Lucas Catarina in three sets and 16th seed Lorenzo Sonego saw off Ilya Ivashka in straight sets. Laslo Djere, a semi-finalist in Marrakech, also progressed to the second round.

Stan Wawrinka's ATP Tour return at the Monte-Carlo Masters ended in defeat, while Jannik Sinner came through a tense encounter with Borna Coric. 

The former world number three made his comeback after more than a year out with a left foot injury that required two surgeries but fell to a 3-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Alexander Bublik in the first round. 

Wawrinka, who entered the tournament as a wildcard having slipped to 236 in the world rankings, came from a break down to take the opening set but fatigue eventually set in and he was eliminated after two hours and seven minutes. 

"I think the body's getting much better," said Wawrinka, who lost in straight sets to Elias Ymer at a Challenger tournament in Marbella two weeks ago. 

"I'm still far away from where I want to be, but I think I'm [going in] the right direction. I think today was a positive match. It was a tough loss, of course, but I'm happy with the way I was playing today. 

"I was playing better, feeling better on the court physically. I spent a lot of mental energy to focus, to stay there as it was tough at the end. But I'm happy with what I have done."

Ninth seed Sinner was taken the distance by Coric before completing a 6-3 2-6 6-3 victory to advance to the second round. 

Sinner took a medical timeout in the second set while he dealt with some apparent abdominal pain, but he was able to battle back and take the win. 

Diego Schwartzman needed over three hours to come from behind and defeat Karen Khachanov 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-3, while his fellow Argentine Federico Delbonis set up a clash with second seed Alexander Zverev by besting Jaume Munar 6-4 3-6 6-4. 

Reigning champion Stefanos Tsitsipas faces a meeting with Fabio Fognini in the second round after the Italian overcame Arthur Rinderknech 7-5 4-6 6-3.  

There were also wins for Hubert Hurkacz, Pablo Carreno Busta, Marin Cilic, Alex de Minaur, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Sebastian Korda. 

Novak Djokovic could face Carlos Alcaraz for the first time after the Monte Carlo Masters draw put the world number one and the teenage revelation on course to clash in the quarter-finals.

The draw for the tournament that begins on Sunday served up the appetising prospect of a tussle between the reigning French Open champion and a player many expect to enjoy huge Roland Garros success.

Alcaraz, 18, last week became the youngest men's champion at the Miami Open, and he has soared to number 11 in the ATP rankings after sitting outside the top 100 at this time 12 months ago.

He won an ATP 250 tournament on clay last year in Umag, and an ATP 500 on the surface in Rio de Janeiro in February, but earning a Masters 1000 hard court title in Miami highlighted the scale of Alcaraz's rapid improvement.

Both he and Djokovic will receive a first-round bye in Monte Carlo, and they must then win twice to set up a meeting at the last-eight stage.

Alcaraz may have to beat the in-form Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz in the third round, with Marin Cilic and Sebastian Korda also potential early opponents for the young Spaniard.

Djokovic will not be taking a quarter-final place for granted, either. If he navigates his opening match, the Serbian could face a dicey third-round clash with Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut or the player to whom he lost at the last-16 stage last year, Britain's Dan Evans.

Rafael Nadal is absent after suffering a stress fracture of a rib during his Indian Wells final defeat to Fritz.

Novak Djokovic is set to appear at next month's Monte Carlo Masters after his vaccination status left him unable to compete at Indian Wells.

The world number two has been forced to sit out the first Masters event of the year after not meeting the vaccination requirements to enter the United States, having been deported from Australia ahead of January's Australian Open for similar reasons.

Now, a post on the 20-time grand slam champion's official website suggests he will appear on the clay surface in Monaco, where the 34-year-old resides.

Monaco currently allows those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the previous six months to enter the city-state, with Djokovic claiming to have suffered from the virus in December.

"Novak will open his 2022 clay court season in Monte-Carlo, where he won the Masters 1000 title twice, in 2013 and 2015," the post reads.

The tournament now looks set to be the second to feature Djokovic in 2022 after he lost at the quarter-finals stage of last month's Dubai Tennis Championships.

The Monte Carlo Masters begins on April 10, lasting until April 17, and Djokovic will be looking to make amends after exiting last year's tournament to Dan Evans in the last 16.

Rafael Nadal, who overtook Djokovic for the most men's singles grand slam titles with his January triumph in Australia, holds the record for the most successes in Monaco, winning the tournament on 11 occasions.

 

Meanwhile, with France having loosened its travel restrictions for unvaccinated people this month, Djokovic will now hope to use the Monaco outing as preparation for a first grand slam appearance of the year at Roland Garros.

The Serbian now looks increasingly likely to be permitted to defend his 2021 French Open title in May after travel restrictions had originally cast doubt on his participation.

Stefanos Tsitsipas landed the first Masters 1000 title of his career as he scored a thumping 6-3 6-3 win over Andrey Rublev in Monte Carlo.

The Greek star had lost his previous two finals at this level, with Rafael Nadal denying him in Toronto and Novak Djokovic beating him in Madrid.

However, he had the measure of Russian Rublev on the Monte Carlo clay on Sunday, breaking his opponent's serve three times and giving away nothing on his own delivery.

Tsitsipas, who lives in Monte Carlo, said he had experienced an "unbelievable week", declaring it was the pinnacle of his career to date.

"I can't describe the feelings right now," he said on Amazon Prime. "I'm overwhelmed by so many different emotions.

"It's incredible I'm able to be in the position I am, and I think we both deserved being in the final and put on an amazing fight and an amazing show.

"Generally I would consider it the week of my life so far. I knew he was going to be a very difficult opponent to face and there were a lot of nerves coming into that match.

"I've played him in the past, he always wants to bring the best out of us when facing each other."

Rublev beat 11-time Monte Carlo champion Nadal in the quarter-finals, but the 23-year-old could not hit the heights of that performance in the title match.

Tsitsipas, 22, said: "I'm just proud of the way I managed to behave and to be out on the court today.

"The clay-court season couldn't start better and it's the best thing right now, winning my first Masters 1000, and it's even more special doing it here on home soil in Monte Carlo and doing it on clay which is my favourite surface."

Andrey Rublev reflected on an "amazing feeling" as he booked a Monte Carlo Masters final appearance against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Russian has had a remarkable week at the Masters 1000 event that included a stunning win over 11-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.

Rublev continued his fine run with a 6-3 7-5 win over Casper Ruud on Saturday to ensure he will do battle against Tsitsipas in his first final at this level.

Tsitsipas comfortably saw off Dan Evans – who had beaten Novak Djokovic earlier in the tournament – winning his semi-final 6-2 6-1.

Rublev had 21 winners in his 80-minute victory over Ruud and has a record of 24-4 this season, the ATP Tour's best.

"It is an amazing feeling - it is my first [Masters] final, so I am really happy," said Rublev. 

"We will see what is going to happen [in the final]. I will try to do my best.

"Casper is a really amazing player, especially on clay. Since the beginning he put a really high intensity [on the court] and was really tough. 

"I knew that I needed to raise my level if I wanted to fight against him, because if I [did] not raise the level I [would] lose for sure."

Rublev defeated Tsitsipas in straight sets on his way to winning an ATP 500 title in Rotterdam last month.

Six of his eight ATP titles have come since the start of last year.

It took Tsitsipas, who has not won a tournament for 14 months, only one hour and nine minutes to see off the challenge of Evans, forcing 11 break points to the Briton's one.

"I am indeed pleased with the performance," Tsitsipas said, with the Greek yet to drop a set in Monte Carlo.

"I found ways to play at my best. It was really difficult to maintain my level of consistency and I am really happy I managed to deal with all the different moments during the match.

"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling energised. I still have plenty of gas and energy left in me. I was able to have all of my matches done in two sets, so that is a big plus. 

"I am happy to be able to play that way, just take it match by match, approach each individual match with the same intensity and energy - I'm really focused for Sunday."

Rublev has won three of his six career meetings with Tsitsipas and one of their two battles on clay.

Tsitsipas will be competing in his third Masters final, having lost to Nadal and Djokovic in his two previous appearances, the last of which came two years ago in Madrid.

Overall, Tsitsipas has won just five of his 13 ATP finals.

Rafael Nadal was dumped out of the Monte Carlo Masters as Andrey Rublev completed a superb 6-2 4-6 6-2 victory in their quarter-final clash.

Nadal went into the meeting with a 73-5 record at the event but Russian Rublev was in inspired form to stun his Spanish opponent.

The 11-time champion looked set to complete a trademark comeback after taking a 74-minute second set, yet Rublev held firm in the decider to claim a memorable victory after two hours and 33 minutes on court.

"I cannot imagine being in the situation of Rafa, knowing that you are the best player on clay and you have that pressure every time," Rublev said, according to the ATP Tour website.

"I think for him it must be incredibly tough every time. I am in shock [with] the way he is playing under this pressure and that is why he is a legend."

Rublev will face Casper Ruud in Saturday's semi-final after he overcame defending champion Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-3.

Dan Evans followed up his superb victory over Novak Djokovic on Thursday with a slender win over David Goffin to reach his first Masters 1000 semi-final.

World number 33 Evans, who had come into the tournament having lost his previous 10 matches on clay, overcame Goffin 5-7 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 42 minutes.

"I am proud of how I came back today, especially with what happened in the first set," he said after the match.

"I felt my concentration wasn't great and I am really happy with coming through. Yesterday would not have been worth it with a bad performance today."

Evans will face Stefanos Tsitsipas, who progressed when opponent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina retired injured in their quarter-final.

Spaniard Davidovich Fokina did not return for the second set after earlier receiving treatment during the first, which Tsitsipas won 7-5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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