Bautista Agut sets up Nadal showdown in Monte Carlo

Published by Tennismash

FOCUS: Roberto Bautista Agut lines up a backhand during his win over John Millman in Monte Carlo; Getty Images
Several seeds tumble as first-round action continues at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo.

Rafael Nadal will begin his clay court season with a clash against countryman Roberto Bautista Agut in Monte Carlo.

Bautista Agut opened his campaign with a 3-6 6-1 6-1 victory over Australia’s John Millman, setting up a second-round meeting with the world No.2.

Nadal, who received a first-round bye at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, has not played since withdrawing from the Indian Wells semifinals due to a knee injury. He is an 11-time champion in Monte Carlo and this week is aiming to create history as the first player to win an ATP event 12 times.

“It’s the start of the important clay season for me,” Nadal told “I hope to be healthy and I hope to be ready to compete well. This tournament is important for me, and I hope to be competitive from the beginning.”

The 31-year-old Bautista Agut has never won a set against Nadal in their two previous meetings, but the world No.22 is in career-best form and boasts wins over former Grand Slam champions Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray so far this season.

FEATURE: Is Novak Djokovic safe at No.1?

Jan-Lennard Struff looms as a potential third-round opponent. The German spoiled No.15 seed Denis Shapovalov’s birthday celebrations with a 5-7 6-3 6-1 opening round win.

Shapovalov was not the only seed beaten on day two. No.17 seed Kyle Edmund lost 12 of the final 13 games in a 4-6 6-3 6-1 loss to Argentine Diego Schwartzman, while No.12 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili also lost a three-set battle against Marton Fucsovics.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the 10th seed, had no troubles – losing only two games in a swift 6-1 6-1 dismissal of Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Italian Fabio Fognini survived a spirited challenge from Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev to advance. The No.13 seed recovered from a set and break deficit to post a 4-6 7-5 6-4 win.

NEWS: Sascha Bajin to work with Kristina Mladenovic

Second round action begins tomorrow, with world No.1 Novak Djokovic headlining the schedule in a rematch with his Indian Wells conqueror Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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