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De Minaur, Korda race into Second Round


Alex de Minaur moved to 20 wins on the season Tuesday when he defeated former champion Stan Wawrinka on a wet day at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

After rain delayed the start of play by nearly two hours and 30 minutes, De Minaur came out firing in the heavy conditions. The Australian limited errors from the baseline and comfortably tracked down Wawrinka’s strikes to advance after just 63 minutes.

“I think with every year of experience I look forward to the clay season even more,” said De Minaur. “I look at it in a way that there is no reason I can’t get good results. In the past, maybe mentally I wasn’t really ready to tell myself I was going to be good on the clay. That, plus I put on a little bit of weight, put on a bit of muscle.

“Clay-court tennis is always so physical and there is a lot of strength involved, so I’ve put on a couple of kilos and hopefully it helps me this clay season.”

The No. 11 player in the PIF ATP Rankings is the fourth player this year to record 20 tour-level wins. Earlier this season the 25-year-old captured the title at the ATP 500 in Acapulco and arrives in Monte-Carlo off the back of a run to the fourth round in Miami.

De Minaur is making his fourth appearance in the Principality and has never advanced beyond the second round. He will aim to change that record when he meets Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.

American Sebastian Korda also raced into the second round. The World No. 27 dispatched 2022 finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1, 6-2. Korda, who captured his only tour-level title on clay in Parma in 2021, meets second seed Jannik Sinner in the second round.

There was little time for last week’s Estoril champion Hubert Hurkacz to settle on the Monte-Carlo clay. The 10th-seeded Pole was pushed all the way in an absorbing encounter with Jack Draper on Court des Princes before prevailing 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) after two hours and 24 minutes.

Hurkacz powered 31 winners to Draper’s 19, according to Infosys ATP Stats, but he still struggled to shake off the determined Briton as the pair met in Monte-Carlo for the second straight year. Just as he did in the second round in 2023, Hurkacz edged his opponent in a deciding set to extend his winning streak to five matches.

“It was very up and down,” said Hurkacz after the match. “Jack is such a great competitor. I served for the match but he came up with some good shots at the end and I just had to accept it and compete. I managed to hold my serve at 5-6 in the third and then played a really good tie-break.”

Hurkacz’s second-round opponent will be Roberto Bautista Agut, after the Spaniard defeated Facundo Diaz Acosta 6-2, 6-4. Zhang Zhizhen was another early winner on Tuesday in Monte-Carlo, where the Chinese star beat Marcos Giron 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

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