It is not clear whether it was Monday blues or the nature of the courts, but every player who played at the Monte Carlo Masters today experienced some sort of difficulty during the course of their respective matches. They found it difficult to hit the right targets with their serve, and there were more errors than what was generally expected from them.
Moreover, the players cannot challenge the on-court umpire decisions, which are final in the absence of Hawkeye. That was a source of plenty of confusion on Day 2 of the tournament.
The first match of the day was between the Russian Daniil Medvedev and Joao Sousa of Portugal. Right from the start of the match, it looked as if Medvedev was still in hard-court mode, as his approach looked the same as it was during the Indian Wells and Miami Masters.
He stood very deep for the first serve return and was content to get a lot of balls back without taking too many risks. That worked well for Medvedev as Sousa leaked a lot of errors on the day. The Portuguese won just one game in the first set which ended in 29 minutes.
Medvedev hit 16 winners and 11 unforced errors compared to the 10 winners and 27 unforced errors from Sousa, and the second set ended with the same scoreline as the first. The Russian won 30 points at the baseline compared to Sousa's 14, wrapping up the match 6-1, 6-1 in under an hour.
In the next match, birthday boy Denis Shapovalov faced the German Jan-Lennard Struff. This was a roller-coaster ride with each player snatching service games away from the other in the first set. Finally in the 12th game, Shapovalov broke Struff's serve decisively and took the set 7-5.
In the second set, Shapovalov lost his first service game and Struff took an early 2-0 lead. But the situation soon changed as Struff lost his service game and the scores were leveled at 2-2.
Both the players looked a bit uncomfortable on the court as they made many unforced errors from both the forehand and the backhand side.
Shapovalov lost his serve once again at 3-3 and that signaled the start of his downfall. Struff took complete control of the match from there and defeated Shapovalov 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
The contest between Fabio Fognini and Andrey Rublev was undoubtedly the match of the day as there were many twists and turns coupled with tennis of high quality between the two.
Fognini looked comfortable initially, having broken Rublev and getting an early lead. But Rublev bounced back, taking advantage of the unforced errors from Fognini, and won the set 6-4.
Fognini looked completely out of it in the second set as he was down 1-4, with Rublev looking ready to clinch the match. But Fognini broke back, and the crowd who were in favor of the Italian started getting involved too; the tables had suddenly turned.
It was a different Fognini altogether with the crowd cheering him at every point as he fought back from 1-4 down to take the score to 5-5. He then broke Rublev's serve once again and leveled the match at one set apiece.
In the first few games of the third set, Fognini found some amazing angles and hit some magnificent winners on the forehand as well as the backhand side. There were also a few line calls that didn't go Rublev's way which added to the frustration of the young Russian as he lost the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Fognini hit 35 winners and a massive 55 unforced errors whereas Rublev hit 19 winners and 30 unforced errors. The first serve percentages of both the players were below par, at 45% and 47% respectively.
Fognini will now await the winner of the match between local favorite Gilles Simon and the Australian Alexei Popyrin.
Results summary of matches on Day 2
1) Daniil Medvedev beat Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-1
2) Roberto Bautista Agut beat John Millman 3-6,6-1,6-1.
3) Jan Lennard Struff beat Denis Shapovalov 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
4) Philip Kohlscreiber beat Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-3
5) Marton Fucsovics beat Nikoloz Basilashvilli 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
6) Diego Schwartzman beat Kyle Edmund 4-6, 6-3, 6-1Published 16 Apr 2019, 00:12 IST