Nadal, Djokovic progress in Monte Carlo

Saturday, 21 Apr, 2018

Nadal started his bid for an 11th Monte Carlo title with a comfortable victory over Slovenia's Bedene.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion was playing in only his fourth tournament since last year's Wimbledon, after losing his opening matches at both Indian Wells and Miami to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire respectively. But it was Nadal who came out on top in their most important match yet, brushing aside Thiem in straight sets in the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

Though he's behind 5-2 in their series, Thiem was the only player to beat Nadal on clay a year ago.

The 31-year-old triumphed in finals in Barcelona and Madrid as well as a semi-final clash en route to claiming his 10th French Open title. He hit a backhand wide.

Bedene, ranked 58th in the world, put up a stiffer fight in the second set, holding serve until the sixth game before Nadal broke twice in succession to seal a convincing victory in an hour and 17 minutes.

And Thiem continued to throw in a series of poor shots, double faulting on Djokovic's first set point as the 30-year-old took the breaker 7-2. In the victory, Nadal won 79 percent of his first serve points and 65 percent of his second serve points. "I wouldn't be sitting here in front of you and competing in this tournament if I didn't believe that I can do that (win grand slams), if my intentions are not like that", said Djokovic.

"It's the ultimate challenge for everybody, to play against him", said Thiem of playing Rafa.

"I know when I'm healthy, when I'm not dealing with any significant injury that can disturb me on the way to compete and train, then I can really reach that desired level". "I think (it's an) awesome decision by him to take Marian Vajda back because it's the coach he won everything with nearly".

If Djokovic, a former world No.1, wins his upcoming matches, he may face current world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.

Thiem brought up two more set points, only for his forehand to break down with two errors as ninth seed Djokovic broke back to force a tie-break.

Alexander Zverev began the day with a 3-set win over Jan Lennard Struff.

Last year's semifinalist, Lucas Pouille of France, blew a one-set lead to suffer a shock 2-6 6-1 7-6 (3) defeat to German Mischa Zverev.

Sixth seed David Goffin defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 7-5 in a match that included a weird incident involving a ball boy.

The Spanish player raised a hand in apology but received a warning from the umpire.

Second-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, the Australian Open runner-up, had seven aces in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win against Fernando Verdasco. He spent the offseason at Piatti's academy in Bordighera and he has the Italian in his corner this week in Monte Carlo where Coric faces Djokovic in the second round on Wednesday.