Ćorić Falls Short Against Djokovic at Monte Carlo Masters

Austria’s Dominic Thiem is considered one of the contenders for the French Open title. Eric Gaillard  Reuters

Roberto Bautista Agut bt Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-3; Albert Ramos-Vinolas bt Jared Donaldson 6-3, 6-3; Andrey Rublev bt Robin Haase 7-6 (7), 2-6, 7-5; Borna Coric bt Julien Benneteau 6-2, 6-3; Kei Nishikori bt Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; Novak Djokovic bt Dusan Lajovic 6-0, 6-1.

The 26-year-old Bulgarian rallied back in the second set with consecutive breaks before serving out to win.

"I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament", a relieved Thiem said.

The 20-year-old Zverev had appeared in control of the first set when he broke for a 4-3 lead.

Thiem's solitary and most famous win over Djokovic in six previous meetings came in the French Open quarter-finals last season when he enjoyed a 7-6 6-3 6-0 win against the Serbian at Roland Garros.

Djokovic came through a tight first set in a tie-break and moved a break clear in the second, before late drama as he missed nine chances to close out the match.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev's serve and also converted his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net. Since Shanghai a year ago, I have spent not enough time on court competing.

Though it was a one-sided first set score, it still lasted the best part of 40 minutes as Nadal wore down his opponent.

Coric spurned a great chance to go a break up at 6-5 when he drilled a backhand beyond the baseline and paid the price for an error-strewn tie-break, which was comfortably won by Djokovic.

But Rublev struck wide on match point and ran out of steam, double faulting to hand Thiem a place in round three as the world number seven won the last three games on the spin. "But I'm looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV and then playing the victor on Thursday".

Former world number one Djokovic has had a year to forget so far, suffering shock losses to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire in Indian Wells and Miami respectively after recovering from elbow surgery.

Chasing an 11th title at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, Nadal swept the Slovenian aside 6-1 6-3 in an hour and 19 minutes with a typically focused display.

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