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Rediff.com  » Sports » Tennis round-up: Djokovic powers past Nishikori; Wozniacki passes Barty test

Tennis round-up: Djokovic powers past Nishikori; Wozniacki passes Barty test

May 08, 2018 09:21 IST

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during his first round match against Japan's Kei Nishikori. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters

Former world number one Novak Djokovic showed signs of a return to form with an impressive 7-5, 6-4 victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori in the opening round of the Madrid Open on Monday.

 

Later France's Gael Monfils beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a second round clash on Wednesday with champion and tournament favourite, Rafael Nadal.

Following early exits in Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Miami and Indian Wells, Djokovic, 30, struck his shots with precision and recorded 26 winners to improve his head-to-head advantage to 12-2 against world number 20 Nishikori.

Djokovic was broken to love at 2-2 but he recovered well by pouncing on his opponent's second serve to clinch the opening set in just over an hour.

The two-time winner in Madrid went on to claim a decisive break in the 10th game of the second set to wrap up the contest.

It was Djokovic's first victory over a top-20 opponent since the Serb overcame Monfils at Eastbourne in June last year.

Earlier in the day, Canada's Milos Raonic booked a second-round meeting with third seed Grigor Dimitrov, defeating Argentina's Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-2.

Raonic recorded 17 aces to knock out the Madrid debutant.

Frenchman Lucas Pouille, seeded 15th, crashed out of the tournament after a 6-2, 6-3 defeat by compatriot Benoit Paire.

Paire claimed his first victory in four attempts against Pouille and will next face Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov.

Wozniacki passes Barty test, Pliskova and Sharapova advance

World number two Caroline Wozniacki survived a scare from Ashleigh Barty on Monday, edging the Australian 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the last-16 of the Madrid Open.

Wozniacki found herself on the brink of defeat as she trailed 4-2 in the final set, but the Dane roared back to claim the last four games and seal the victory.

The 22-year-old Barty was ultimately let down by her groundstrokes in crucial stages of decider as she finished with 54 unforced errors for the match.

Wozniacki will next face former French Open semi-finalist Kiki Bertens, who stunned 15th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-1, 6-4 in the second round.

Karolina Pliskova, meanwhile, held off former world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 to set up a third round clash with US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Belarusian veteran Azarenka was featuring in her first tournament on clay for two years and came from 3-0 down to level in the final set against Pliskova.

However the Czech broke serve in the 11th game to win a tense battle.

Another former world number one, Maria Sharapova, continued her revival on clay as she overcame a tense opening set to beat Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5, 6-1.

The 31-year-old Russian, who entered the tournament on the back of four consecutive defeats, rallied from 3-1 down before snatching the opening set with a ferocious forehand.

With momentum on her side, Sharapova won 20 of the last 22 points to secure a spot in the last-16.

Unseeded Sharapova will next face last year's finalist Kristina Mladenovic, who edged China's Zhang Shuai 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Source:
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