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Two-Time Champion Tsitsipas and In-Form Dimitrov Reach Second Round at Monte Carlo

MONACO (AP) — Two-time champion Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters after Laslo Djere of Serbia retired with an injury during the second set on Monday.

The 12th-seeded Tsitsipas was leading 6-3, 3-2 when his unseeded opponent pulled out with an unspecified injury. Djere walked up to the net during the changeover and shook hands with Tsitsipas.

The big-serving Greek won the title in 2021 and went on to reach the French Open final that year, losing a five-set match against Novak Djokovic. He followed up with another Monte Carlo trophy in 2022 but went out at the quarterfinal stage last year. Tsitsipas next faces Nicolas Jarry of Chile or Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina.

Ninth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov had little trouble beating local player Valentin Vacherot of Monaco, targeting his opponent’s weaker backhand in a 7-5, 6-2 win. The 32-year-old Bulgarian is chasing his second title of the year and improved to 21-5 overall.

Dimitrov next plays either Matteo Berrettini — who on Sunday won the Grand Prix Hassan II in Morocco — or Miomir Kecmanovic.

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime had six aces and didn’t concede a break point in beating Italian qualifier Luca Nardi 6-2, 6-3, although things might get tougher in the second round against third-seeded Carlos Alcaraz.

However, Auger-Aliassime holds a 3-2 career record against the Wimbledon champion and two-time Grand Slam winner. Furthermore, Alcaraz has been practicing with strapping to his right forearm.

Alexei Popyrin of Australia next faces defending champion Andrey Rublev after winning 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 against French qualifier Corentin Moutet.

Sebastian Ofner of Austria won 6-1, 6-4 against Britain’s Dan Evans and will play fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev, a French Open semifinalist in 2022. Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal rallied to beat Matteo Arnaldi 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a meeting with seventh-seeded Holger Rune, last year’s runner-up.

Arthur Fils, Francisco Cerundolo and Alejandro Tabilo also advanced at the first clay-court Masters event of the season. The tournament is one of the first big warm-up events for the French Open, which begins May 25 at Roland Garros.

Djokovic is looking to win Monte Carlo for the third time but first since 2015.

The top-ranked Serb hasn’t made it past the quarterfinals since then, and he could face Rublev in the quarters.

Wtih record 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal out with an injury, second-ranked Jannik Sinner is becoming the player to beat.

The Australian Open champion from Italy is 22-1 with three titles in 2024, including the Miami Open, where he dominated against Dimitrov in the final.

Djokovic faces Roman Safiullin or Jaume Munar, while Sinner will take on American Sebastian Korda or Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The presence of Alcaraz and former U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev means the top four men’s players are all in action, with byes into the second round.

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