Monte Carlo Masters: Rafael Nadal passes Kyle Edmund test, Andy Murray makes winning return
Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal would have definitely liked to have had a straightforward win in his first match on the European red clay at the 2017 Monte Carlo Masters but it turned out to be a dogfight despite the blazing start made by the Spaniard in Monaco on Wednesday.
The defending champion eventually passed the stern test given to him by the 45th ranked Brit Kyle Edmund and won the match, 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 to set up a tantalising third round meeting with the talented 19-year-old Alexander Zverev.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion made a thunderous start on his most productive surface as he raced to a set and a break up. An undeterred Edmund soon found his reliable forehand and broke Nadal to take a 4-2 lead in the second set. Rafa, however, soon broke back but the set still went to the British player.
In a topsy-turvy third set, both men made inroads into each other’s service games. The Spanish ace was the one who was able to carve out three breaks of serve and that made the difference as Nadal wrapped up his opener in 2 hours 18 minutes.
Murray, Wawrinka, Berdych overcome tough challenges
Top seed and World No. 1 Andy Murray, who just recovered from an elbow injury, also overcame a tough challenge from World No. 28 Gilles Muller to notch up a 7-5, 7-5 win. The Wimbledon champion was broken in each set by the veteran but the 2016 Monte Carlo semi-finalist came back to complete the victory in straight sets.
Former champion Stan Wawrinka too had a stressful day at the office. World No. 54 Jiri Vesely, who had upset Novak Djokovic at this venue in 2016, pocketed the middle set only to see the third-seeded Swiss storming back for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
Ninth-seeded Tomas Berdych too had to work extremely hard to prevail 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 over the 39-year-old Tommy Haas.
In contrast, fifth seed Marin Cilic dropped just three games to blast his way past Jeremy Chardy of France, 6-3, 6-0. 14th seed Alexander Zverev was equally impressive in a 6-0, 6-4 win over Feliciano Lopez.
Zverev has conceded a total of only seven games in his first couple of rounds.
Dimitrov, Bautista-Agut bite the dust
Grigor Dimitrov’s woes continued as he suffered an opening round exit for the third tournament in a row. The eighth seed made a good start but failed to continue the momentum as he slumped to a 6-4, 3-6, 2-6 defeat to German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff.
12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut also departed with a 3-6, 6-7(3) loss to Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
Winning start for Bopanna
India’s Rohan Bopanna, meanwhile, made a winning start to his Monte Carlo Masters campaign. Bopanna, who is playing alongside Pablo Cuevas, lost the second set narrowly in a tie-break to the Austrian-Polish combine of Alexander Peya and Marcin Matkowski. The Indian-Uruguayan pair then rebounded for the 6-3, 6(7)-7, 10-2 win in 1 hour 27 minutes.
Bopanna and Cuevas have a tough task up next as they face the fifth seeds Rajeev Ram and Raven Klaasen.