Djoker battles past Coric on 10th match point, Nadal into last 16
MONTE CARLO: Novak Djokovic needed 10 match points to see off Borna Coric in the Monte Carlo Masters second round on Wednesday (April 18), while world number one Rafael Nadal eased past Aljaz Bedene 6-1, 6-3.
Djokovic, playing only his fourth tournament since Wimbledon last July after struggling with a right elbow injury, overcame some late nerves to win 7-6 (7/2), 7-5.
Djokovic is working with long-time former coach Marian Vajda for the first time in almost a year after
splitting from Andre Agassi, and the 30-year-old has
looked rejuvenated in Monaco after early exits in Indian
Wells and Miami.
The Serbian will next face Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem with a possible quarter-final against defending champion Nadal, who plays Karen Khachanov in the last 16 on Thursday, up for grabs. The first game set the tone for the rest of the match, with 12-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic eventually holding after nine minutes of bruising baseline rallies that included a missed break point for Coric.
Both players saved break points in their opening service games, but the Croatian could not fend off Djokovic for
long as the two-time Monte Carlo winner moved 3-1 ahead when the 21-year-old Coric mis-hit a smash.
But he dug deep to break back thanks to two backhand unforced errors from Djokovic.
He was rock solid in a tie-break, though, as Coric became ragged, dumping a simple short ball into the net and firing a backhand long to gift his opponent the first set. The former world number one was showing the ferocity and accuracy of old in his groundstrokes and he had the better of three straight breaks to take control.
But the 39th-ranked Coric saved two match points on his own serve. A succession of wild backhands and a tame forehand into the net saw four more match points come and go, before Coric levelled the set at 5-5 as Djokovic blasted wide and long.
Nadal started his bid for an 11th Monte Carlo title with a comfortable victory over Slovenia's Bedene.
The 16-time Grand
Slam winner, like Djokovic, is looking for a record 31st
Masters title, and he swatted aside Bedene for the loss of only four games.