'Rusty' Djokovic through in Monte Carlo but Cilic comes unstuck
Novak Djokovic battled into the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters, but Marin Cilic suffered an early exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
World number one Djokovic got the better of the dangerous Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 4-6 6-4 on Court Rainier III, having seen Cilic dumped out by Guido Pella in the previous match.
Cilic's exit further opened up the draw for 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, one of only two remaining seeds in the bottom quarter of the draw, as the Spaniard prepares to face compatriot Roberto Bautista-Agut on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, 18-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime - a semi-finalist at the Miami Open - set up a meeting with Alexander Zverev after seeing off Juan Ignacio Londero in straight sets.
Borna Coric, Gilles Simon, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Cameron Norrie were also among those to progress.
DJOKOVIC UP AND RUNNING
Despite an underwhelming display in his opener, Djokovic was happy to get past Kohlschreiber - who registered a shock triumph over the Serb at Indian Wells - and hoped to build on his first appearance on clay in 2019.
"[Kohlschreiber] was as close to a win as I was. If he won this match, it wouldn't be undeserved," Djokovic said. "He played very well.
"In some phases, we both made a lot of unforced errors - it was not the prettiest tennis match, but a win is a win. It's a rusty first match on clay this season for me. But I kind of expect that."
2019 CLAY KING SINKS CILIC
Nadal typically reigns supreme on the red dirt, but the man with more clay-court wins than any other player on the Tour this season is Pella.
Victory number 13 was a notable one as he prevailed against Cilic in a superb showing, even affording to let the seventh seed back into the match before easing through.
Cilic was a set and a break down but battled back to level the match, only for Pella to seize control again in the decider and seal a 6-3 5-7 6-1 victory with plenty to spare.
INJURY HALTS TSONGA AGAIN
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saw his 2018 season hampered by injury, before ending his wait for a 17th title at the Open Sud de France in February.
However, the popular Frenchman suffered a fitness setback as he was forced to retire in his match with Taylor Fritz when trailing 2-0 in the second set having already lost the first.
Another notable name followed Cilic and Tsonga in crashing out, as eighth seed Karen Khachanov was beaten by qualifier Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets.
Marco Cecchinato staged a remarkable comeback to beat Stan Wawrinka 0-6 7-5 6-3, the Italian claiming 10 of the last 13 games to see off his Swiss opponent.Published 17 Apr 2019, 00:54 IST