Djokovic makes successful return at Monte Carlo Masters

Defending champion Fabio Fognini also advanced to the third round with a win over Jordan Thompson and Casper Ruud won against ninth-seeded Diego Schwartzman.

Djokovic, who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2013 final and won the tournament again in 2015, could face the Spaniard in Sunday's final.   -  REUTERS

Novak Djokovic produced a clinical 6-4, 6-2 win over up-and-coming Jannik Sinner at the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday, making a successful return to clay.

Facing a stern test in his first competitive match since his record-extending ninth win at the Australian Open, the two-time Monte Carlo champion eased into his clay-court routine to reach the third round and improve his unbeaten record this season to 10-0.

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After dropping his serve early, the top-ranked Djokovic won four straight games to take control of the match. Sinner, who arrived in Monte Carlo on the back of a runner-up finish at Miami, saved two match points but was too often put on the back foot by Djokovic's mix of baseline attacks and subtle drop shots. The 19-year-old Sinner bowed out on a double fault and Djokovic hit a total of 20 winners.

The clay-court tournament is back on the calendar with no fans attending after it was cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Defending champion Fabio Fognini also advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Jordan Thompson. Also, Casper Ruud earned his second top 10 victory with a 6-3, 6-3 victory against ninth-seeded Diego Schwartzman.

Djokovic, who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2013 final and won the tournament again in 2015, could face the Spaniard in Sunday's final. Nadal, who seeks a record-extending 12th title here, was scheduled to take on Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis later Wednesday.

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