MONTE CARLO, Monaco — Tomas Berdych needed two hours and three sets to overcome strong resistance from Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov and reach the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.
Berdych, a runner-up at the Country Club two years ago, converted only two of his 11 break points and rallied Kuznetsov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Berdych made the decisive break in the third game of the decider with a backhand winner down the line.
All six seeded players in action at the first big clay-court event of the season progressed to the second round: No. 12 Robert Bautista Agut, No. 13 Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 14 Alexander Zverev, No. 15 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and No. 16 Pablo Cuevas.
Widely regarded as one of the most promising youngsters on the tour, the 19-year-old Zverev secured a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win over Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.
“I like playing on clay,” Zverev said. “It’s the surface I grew up on.”
Zverev will next be up against either Feliciano Lopez or Daniil Medvedev.
Novak Djokovic, who has been drawn in the same half of the draw as nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, will start his campaign on Tuesday against Gilles Simon of France. Djokovic has been struggling with injuries and recently withdrew from the Miami Masters with a right elbow complaint.
“The elbow is fine now,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been training for the past couple of weeks, playing Davis Cup, and making the transition to clay that’s very demanding for the body. I was skeptical of how my elbow would react to the heavy balls on clay, but it’s been good so far.”
BIRMINGHAM, England — Elina Svitolina was eliminated in the second round of the Aegon Classic on Thursday, losing to Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the second round.
Svitolina, a 22-year-old Ukrainian who recently broke into the top 10, said a foot injury could force her to skip Wimbledon.
“There is a question about it,” Svitolina said. “I will talk with my physios. The season is very long and I must look at the bigger picture.
“The heel feels painful and is very sensitive. I am disappointed I am out of the tournament but I am not disappointed with my performance, because I could not show even 50 percent. Also the court was slippery which is bad for the foot.”
Giorgi will next face Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals.
The Aegon Classic originally boasted seven of the world’s top 10 players, but four withdrew with injuries. It has now lost the two top seeded players who started the tournament, Svitolina and Dominika Cibulkova.
LONDON — Marin Cilic avoided becoming the latest seeded player to depart early at Queen’s by beating Stefan Kozlov 6-0, 6-4 Thursday and advancing to the quarterfinals at the Wimbledon warm-up event.
The fourth-seeded Cilic is the top player left following the first-round exits of Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic – the top three seeded players. Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also out.
Cilic, the 2012 champion at Queen’s, lost only 10 points in the first set and didn’t face a break point in the match against the 19-year-old Kozlov.
“At a tournament like this, we have so many great grass-court players,” Cilic said of the slew of upsets so far at Queen’s. “Considering it’s also one of the first weeks on grass, it’s always very tricky.”
Cilic will play another American, Donald Young, in the last eight.