Aslan Karatsev moved past NextGenATP Italian teenage wild card Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets at the first round of the ATP Rolex Masters 1000.
The tournament celebrated at the Monte-Carlo Country Club opens the clay-court season featuring 13 singles matches on Monday, among them, the first-time meeting between the Russian player and Lorenzo Musetti.
Aslan Karatsev defeated the Italian rising star in two straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, after one hour and 28 minutes.
The world No. 29 headed Court Rainier III to face the 19-year-old, with both players making their ATP Tour clay-court tournament first appearance.
The 27-year-old imposed his game on a first set interrupted by the rain at 4-3.
Over four hours later, the match resumed, and the 2021 Dubai champion sealed the set in his favor 6-3.
The Moscow native maintained his run of form, taking the win in the second set 6-4 over the world No. 84, saving the four break points he faced and converting three of 12 BPs.
Overall, nine Italians are competing in the draw, including defending champion Fabio Fognini, who lifted the trophy in 2019, beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 to become the first Italian ATP Masters 1000 champion.
The 33-year-old, scheduled to hit the court on Monday to play against world No. 42 Miomir Kecmanovic, saw his match canceled due to the rain.
As informed by the organizers, the remainder of Monday’s action at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters has been canceled. Each of the matches suspended will be second on court Tuesday.
Fognini is also playing doubles alongside world No. 9 Diego Schwartzman.
On Sunday, the pairing debuted with a triumph 6-4, 7-5 over the duo Olivier Marach and Luke Saville.
KNOW THE PLAYERS
Musetti reached the 2021 Abierto Mexicano Telcel semi-finals from qualifying in Acapulco last March.
On the way to his first ATP 500 semi-final, the Carrara native claimed his first Top 10 win and ATP hardcourt victory over Schwartzman in the first round.
Four seed Tsitsipas will be Karatsev’s opponent in the second round of the competition.
The Russian player has enjoyed a nearly perfect start of the season, first breaking into the Top 100 and Top 50 at No. 42, following an impressive performance at the 2021 Australian Open, where he reached the semi-finals from qualifying in his Grand Slam main draw debut.
At the Qatar Open held in Doha, he teamed up with countryman Andrey Rublev to play doubles; the duo earned victory 7-5, 6-4, clinching the Qatar ExxonMobil Open doubles title.
In mid-March, he lifted his first ATP Tour title at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships, becoming the first WC to reach a final in Dubai since Thomas Muster (1997).
On March 22, Karatsev broke into the Top 30, reaching a new career-high No. 27.
NADAL AND DJOKOVIC RETURN TO ACTION
The 114th edition of the first of three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments played on clay sees Rafael Nadal returning to a tennis competition.
The Spaniard, who has lifted the trophy in Monte Carlo on 11 occasions, has not played an ATP tournament since the Australian Open due to a back injury.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic competes for the first time since conquering his ninth title at the AO.
The Serbian is looking to win his third title at the tournament.
NO PLAY IN THE RAIN
As mentioned before, Monday action was cut short as five singles matches were in progress when play was canceled.
Overall, four players advanced to the second round at the Monte-Carlo Country Club: Karatsev, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, John Millman, and Tommy Paul.
The Monte-Carlo Masters is held from April 10 to 18 at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions.