ATP Monte Carlo: Karen Khachanov edges wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis in thrilling encounter

Aubrey Yates
April 17, 2018

I always enjoy this Europe season. The Spaniard won here eight years in a row between 2005 and 2012, and also took the title in both 2016 and 2017 after a four-year gap.

Djokovic has endured something of a blip of late, suffering three consecutive losses, including a three-set defeat at the Indian Wells Masters to Taro Daniel, a qualifier from Japan, following a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open.

An intriguing clash between two young rising stars in the blockbuster first-round encounter at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters saw Karen Khachanov putting in a terrific clay-court masterclass display to oust the resurgent and tricky talent in Thanasi Kokkinakis, triumphing 7-5, 6-4 after a marathon 110-minutes, which could be considered lengthy for a straight-sets encounter. "Every match I win is very important".

Novak Djokovic has advanced to the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters after recording a comfortable 6-0 6-1 win over Dusan Lajovic to whet appetites for a potential showdown against Rafael Nadal.

'I want Federer to play in Madrid again before he retires, ' Lopez said.

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Djokovic was in a hurry to get the job done and Lajovic was put out of his misery when he drilled a backhand wide.

World number one Rafa Nadal, who returned to action from a leg injury in Spain's Davis Cup win against Germany last week, is chasing a record-extending 11th title at the clay-court tournament. "That's why I am here, to play tennis and to accept all the rules. In my experience, on the tennis court, the crowd gets more insane, the crowd gets more emotional and enjoys the match with more passion when you play good points".

"He said that a couple of days ago - and I thought he would play Roland Garros".

It remains to be seen how the shot clock will affect the game, however, one thing is certainly evident, some of the biggest names in the sport are divided on the opinion and it should be very interesting to see how it all pans out at the US Open later this year. "In some cases it was working well and some cases not", said world number three Marin Cilic. "I think it needs to be slightly balanced but I think it can be good for tennis to have something like that". Seeded players with byes in this segment are Lucas Pouille, Alexander Zverev, Pablo Carreno-Busta and Marin Cilic, while unseeded players with prospects in this bottom half of the draw include Richard Gasquet, Diego Schwartzman, Fabio Fognini, Kyle Edmund, and the victor of the mouthwatering Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych first-round clash, due to be played today.

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