Fognini, Sinner advance in straight sets at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Fabio Fognini opened the defense of his Monte Carlo Masters title with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Miomir Kecmanovic Tuesday as second-ranked Daniil Medvedev withdrew from the clay-court tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.

The 15th-seeded Fognini was set to start his campaign Monday but rain delayed his return by a day. Back on the stage of his biggest success two years earlier, Fognini advanced to the second round after hitting 27 winners.

The Italian baseliner triumphed on the Riviera in 2019, beating 11-time champion Rafael Nadal on his way to the title. The tournament was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

“It is really special because I was born here, I was born in (nearby) San Remo,” said Fognini, reflecting on his return. “I was practicing here since I was 14 years old. I have a lot of memories here.”

Fognini will face Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the second round.

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, who was runner-up in Miami this year, also progressed to set up a mouth-watering contest with top-ranked Novak Djokovic. Sinner defeated 2017 runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4.

Djokovic will be playing for the first time since winning his ninth Australian Open title in February.

Nadal is also playing in the tournament, chasing a record-extending 12th title here. He has recovered from a back injury and will be playing in only his second tournament of the season following a quarterfinal exit at the Australian Open.

“I am good. Honestly, I am confident. I am playing well,” Nadal said. “It’s true that I didn’t play much. At the same time, (it) is true that I had good success in the past without playing much.”

Earlier, second-ranked Daniil Medvedev withdrew from the first major clay-court tournament of the season following a positive COVID-19 test. Organizers said Medvedev was placed in isolation.

“It’s a big disappointment not to play in Monte Carlo,” Medvedev said. “My focus is now on recovery and I look forward to getting back out on Tour as soon and as safely as possible.”

Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Aslan Karatsev and will take on either John Millman or 16th-seeded Cristian Garin for a spot in the quarterfinals.

At French Open, Francisco Cerundolo is mad at chair umpire over Holger Rune’s double-bounce

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PARIS – Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina was devastated about losing his French Open fourth-round match to Holger Rune of Denmark in a fifth-set tiebreaker Monday. He also was mad at chair umpire Kader Nouni for missing a double-bounce of the ball on a point that was awarded to Rune early in his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) victory.

They were tied at a set apiece and on serve at 2-1 for the No. 6-seeded Rune early in the third at Court Suzanne Lenglen when the point of contention happened. Cerundolo, who was serving at deuce, hit a forehand that skidded low at the baseline and quickly bounced a second time – which normally would have meant that the point was his.

But Rune went ahead and got his racket on the ball, sending it back over the net. At about the same time, No. 23 seed Cerundolo was saying “sorry” to apologize for the odd way his forehand made the ball skim across the clay. Nouni was not immediately aware of the double-bounce, thought the ball was still in play and called Cerundolo for hindrance for talking during a point. That meant Rune got the point, and when he won the next one, too, he had a service break.

“It was unbelievable, because it was a clear double-bounce. I was mad at the umpire because he has to see it,” Cerundolo said. “It’s his fault.”

In tennis, electronic line-calling is used at many tournaments to make line calls, but replays are not used to check things like double-bounces or whether a point should be lost because a player touches the net, which is not allowed.

And while Cerundolo put the onus on the official, he also thought Rune could have ceded the point because of the double-bounce.

“For sure, I wish he would have done that, because it was a big moment,” Cerundolo said.

Rune, who moved into a matchup against No. 4 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, said he saw a replay after the following point, and “saw it was a double bounce. But the point already happened, and he called the score. So I felt sorry.”

But, Rune added: “This is tennis. This is sports. Some umpires, they make mistakes. Some for me; some for him. That’s life.”

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

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PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.