Nadal storms into last 16 at ATP Monte-Carlo Masters

Novak Djokovic

Enlarge Image Novak Djokovic AFP Getty Images

"Let's put it that way". For Kohlschreiber had made a dent in Djokovic's tennis before: Twice in Masters events, he had taken the Serb to three sets. While Nadal admits that he is still not without pain in his knee, he believes there are many encouraging signs from his first match back.

And after his less than convincing opening match, Djokovic was nevertheless pragmatic about his form. After finally sealing the victory when Kohlschreiber's return landed long, he whacked the ball away in frustration and then whipped another one up into the crowd.

He maintained the advantage to avenge his Indian Wells second-round defeat by Kohlschreiber last month. Later in the second, he lobbed his racket at the ball when retrieving a shot at the baseline and inadvertently sent it into the crowd.

The 31-year-old, who was named the face of Lacoste in 2017, showed off a red polo from his collection with the French company paired with white shorts and matching socks featuring Lacoste's signature alligator branding.

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"I was able to move well and be confident in the things that I did", the 32-year-old Nadal said. This surface is very demanding physically.

Fritz won 6-4, 6-2 against Diego Schwartzman and the 21-year-old American next plays top-ranked Novak Djokovic. It is the first match in nearly a year on this surface.

Seventh-seeded Marin Cilic had to bid early farewell after losing the duel to Guido Pella of Argentina 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

Among other matches, No. 11 seed Marco Cecchinato of Italy recovered from a poor start to beat Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 in one hour, 44 minutes.

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There were also second-round wins for unseeded players Dimitrov, Taylor Fritz, Cameron Norrie, and Dusan Lajovic.

Zverev, another big name, found life easier than many would have expected against Miami Open semi-finalist Felix Auger Aliassime, recovering from a break in the second set to triumph 6-1 6-4. Three times Djokovic came back from a break down, but at 4-5, he was broken for the fourth time, and the German levelled the match 6-4.

Rafael Nadal got his title defence at the Monte-Carlo Masters under way with a straightforward win against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut at Monte-Carlo Country Club.

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