MONTE CARLO—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 semi-finals 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.”
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 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.
Former US Open champion Dominic Thiem’s attempts to revive his career following a wrist injury were dealt another blow in a 6-2 6-4 loss to ninth-ranked Holger Rune.
The loss extended Thiem’s bid for a first win over a top-10 ranked player since November, 2020.
Denmark’s Rune next faces Matteo Berrettini, who celebrated his 27th birthday with a hard-fought 5-7 7-6(1) 6-4 victory over Francisco Cerundolo.
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