Djokovic Survives Clay Opener In Monte Carlo, Wawrinka Falls Apart; Nadal Opens Clay Season Wed.
Philipp Kohlschreiber nearly beat Novak Djokovic twice in as many months. The German, who stunned the World No. 1 at Indian Wells, again caused problems for Djokovic today at Monte Carlo. But in his first match on the clay, the Serb came through 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Kohlschreiber broke Djokovic four straight times in the second set, but Djokovic grabbed an opening break to start the third and held on.
“I had ups and downs and in a way felt a bit rusty on the court. I had a tough opponent, of course. Philipp beat me in Indian Wells. It was a match that happened less than a month ago, so of course it was in the back of my mind a bit,” said Djokovic who has twice won Monte Carlo. “I thought I should have maybe stepped in and played a bit more aggressive in the second set, but credit to him for mixing up the pace and playing well.
“I’ll take this win. Hopefully I can play slightly better in the next round, because if I want to go deep in the tournament, I definitely have to up my game.”
The victory was Djokovic 850th of his career. He’ll now face the winner between Taylor Fritz and Diego Schwartzman. Fritz advanced today when his opponent, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, had to retire down a set and a break to the American with what looked like a lower back/hip issue.
Two Top 8 seeds tumbled as No. 7 Marin Cilic fell to Guido Pella 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 and No. 8 Karen Khachanov continued to struggle going down to qualifier Lorenzo Sonego.
French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato enjoyed a great win taking out former champion Stan Wawrinka 0-6, 7-5, 6-3. Wawrinka led 6-0, 2-0 before the Italian charged back in improbable fashion.
Also in second round action, Borna Coric went the distance for a second straight match denying Jaume Munar 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 6-4.
On Wednesday, Rafael Nadal opens his bid for a 12th Monte Carlo title against countryman Roberto Bautista Agut. Dominic Thiem is also in action along with Alexander Zverev who takes on teen phenom Felix Auger-Aliassime.
“I think this is a good opportunity. He’s the one who’s more or less the leader of the new generation of tennis players. It’s been a while since he’s been around, so he’s got lots of experience already,” Auger-Aliassime said. “So for me, this is going to be a great opportunity to play against him and to see how I do against him. I believe in my tennis. I am going to try to do my best, and I’m very hopeful that I will adjust my play to his. I’m going to try to dictate the game.”
WEDNESDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
 Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA)
[WC] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs  Alexander Zverev (GER)
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs  Rafael Nadal (ESP)
 Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Martin Klizan (SVK)
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