Alexander Zverev continued to rebuild his confidence on clay with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the Monte Carlo Masters second round on Wednesday and will next face in-form Daniil Medvedev.
German 13th seed Zverev, who suffered a serious ankle injury in the French Open semifinals last year, won his second match in as many days in his first appearance on the red dirt since the Roland Garros drama.
Zverev broke for 3-2 in the first set and held serve to take it before breaking again in the fifth game of the second set.
Bautista Agut, however, broke the German’s serve to level at 3-3, only for Zverev to make the decisive break in the following game.
Russian Medvedev, winner of four hardcourt titles this year, continued his excellent start to the season with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Italian Lorenzo Sonego on a surface he has not enjoyed much success on in the past.
“I always struggle on clay,” said third seed Medvedev. “I’ve had some good matches where I still struggled. There’s no rhythm on clay, every bounce is a bad bounce and even when it’s good you’re expecting a bad bounce.
“But I managed to play good against a very strong player.”
RUUD MARCHES ON
Casper Ruud, last year’s French Open runner-up, continued his preparations for the claycourt Grand Slam by battling past Botic van de Zandschulp 7-5, 7-6(1), avenging a three-set defeat by the Dutchman in Miami last month.
“It’s never easy to start at a new tournament and against a player I’ve lost to before,” said Ruud, who claimed the Estoril title in the lead-up to Monte Carlo.
“I was a bit sloppy and didn’t take my chances. Sometimes it’s a little tricky playing someone you recently lost to, like ‘not again’ but in this case I was a bit happy because I felt there was some unfinished business.”
Ruud next plays Jan-Lennard Struff who stunned 14th seed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-2. Karen Khachanov also went through with a 7-6(2), 6-2 win over Ilya Ivashka while eighth seed Taylor Fritz overcame Swiss veteran Stan Wawrinka 7-6(10), 6-2.
They were joined by Lorenzo Musetti, who blanked Luca Nardi 6-0, 6-0 to set up a clash with world number one Novak Djokovic.
Miami runner-up Jannik Sinner advanced after his doubles partner Diego Schwartzman retired with a shoulder injury trailing 6-0, 3-1.
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