Monte-Carlo Masters: Zverev and Rublev reach the third round in Monaco

Paris, April 14 (IANS): Under sunny but windy conditions at the Monte-Carlo country club in Monaco, second seed Alexander Zvereve of Germany opened his 2022 clay-court season with a straight-set victory on Wednesday, beating Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6- 1, 7-5 to reach the third round.

Following the shock exit of top seed Novak Djokovic the day before, Zverev, in search of his sixth ATP Masters 1000 title, remained the tournament’s highest-ranked player. A victory in Monte Carlo would see the 24-year-old move closer to the top spot in the ATP rankings.

“It’s the only clay-court Masters that I haven’t won yet, but I’m very motivated to do so,” said Zverev, the 2018 semi-finalist at the event. “I’m very motivated to play good tennis and hopefully I can show that on the court this week.”

Zverev dominated the opening set, winning six in a row after losing the opener to take the lead. But his Argentinian opponent fought back well in the second set, even reaching a set point at 5-2. But Zverev was so calm on the brink, saving the set point and winning 11 straight points to move into a match-winning game, Xinhua reports.

The tough Delbonis saved a match point at 4-5 and another at 5-6 but failed in the third.

“I just think about coming back, never letting him get too far ahead,” Zverev said. “I broke him twice, so it’s useful. If you’re down 4-1, 5-2, something like that, it’s not easy to come back.”

The world No. 3 will next face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the round of 16, as the latter progressed after second-round rival Alexander Bublik pulled out in a three-set match.

Earlier, new Miami Masters champion Carlos Alcaraz suffered a shock loss to young American Sebastian Korda in a three-set 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-3 match.

The 21-year-old Korda, who was competing for the first time in Monte Carlo, scored a decisive break in the deciding set to take a 5-3 lead and then served to triumph in the strong wind.

“It was good to get the win today. I stayed calm and believed in my comeback. It was super tough, every time he threw the ball it was moving. It was a match crazy,” said the world No. 42, whose only tour-level title also came on clay in Parma last year.

Next up for Korda will be the winner between Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz or former US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev came from a set down to defeat Australian Alex de Minaur 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 to progress. It was the Russian’s first head-to-head victory against Minaur after losing their previous two matches. Rublev will next face ninth seed Jannik Sinner for a spot in the quarter-finals.

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