Top class Novak Djokovic described his opening win over Gael Monfils in Madrid on Tuesday as his “best performance of the year”, as he mounted a confrontation with Andy Murray. The 20-time major champion ensured he would maintain his number one ranking for at least another week by extending his winning record against Monfils with a 6-3, 6-2 win in the Caja Magica. Djokovic, who went into the game 17-0 against the Frenchman, needed a win in their second-round match to avoid losing first place to second-seeded Daniil Medvedev.
“I would probably call it the best performance of the year, I would say. I felt very good on the pitch,” said Djokovic.
“I’m very happy, when you consider, you know, that to this day I didn’t play my best tennis in the few tournaments I played this year and still found my rhythm, found my groove.”
The three-time champions of Madrid are finding their rhythm after not competing much this season but arriving fresh from second place in the Spanish capital at his home tournament in Belgrade.
The Serb saved three break points in his first two service games before depriving Monfils of control of the match and taking a one-set lead in 47 minutes.
Djokovic had to save two break points as he served for the game before booking a last-16 clash with Murray, a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 winner against Canadian 14th seed Denis Shapovalov.
It will be the first meeting between Djokovic and Murray since the Doha final in January 2017.
“In theory I should have no chance in the match. He is of course the number one in the world and I play with a metal hip,” said Murray, who is 11-25 in his career against Djokovic.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to see where my game stands and to play against him again. We’ve had so many fights over the years in some of the biggest tournaments in the world.”
Carlos Alcaraz won his first game as a top-10 player, opening his account in Madrid with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
The Spanish teenage sensation, who has three ATP titles so far this season, extended his winning streak to six games after receiving the trophy in Barcelona ten days ago.
Seventh-seeded Alcaraz, who turns 19 on Thursday, awaits Cameron Norrie or John Isner in the last 16 and may face his compatriot Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.
– Rublev survives, Raducanu knocked out –
Sixth seed Andrey Rublev had to fall 0-3 behind the decider to beat British wildcard Jack Draper 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Russia’s number eight, who defeated Djokovic in last week’s Belgrade final, dropped service twice in the opening set and lost an early lead in the second before squirming past left-handed Draper, who was in 121st place in the world. the world stands and it’s his ATP debut on clay in Madrid.
Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina put in a rough performance to get past US Open champion Emma Raducanu 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of a WTA 1000 event for the first time.
37th-ranked Kalinina defeated a Grand Slam winner for a third straight round, then followed up her victories over Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza with a two-hour, 18-minute win over ninth-seeded Raducanu.
“I want to give Emma credit because we both played, I think the quality is very good,” said Kalinina, who will make her debut in Madrid this week.
Meanwhile, former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu’s run came to an end at the hands of US 12th seeded Jessica Pegula, 7-5, 6-1.
Andreescu served for the opening set but was broken. She then got a nosebleed during the switch at 6-5. The Canadian saved four set points on her serve in game 12, but faltered in the fifth when Pegula took the lead.
Despite a rain stoppage in the second set, Pegula took the win in less than two hours and set up a quarterfinal against home favorite Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Sorribes Tormo became just the fourth Spanish woman to reach the last eight at the Madrid Open, after a tricky draw that saw her defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Naomi Osaka for her 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday.
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