Rafael Nadal begins Monte-Carlo Masters campaign with Roberto Bautista Agut victory
British No 2 Cameron Norrie also books last-16 spot with straight-sets victory in principality
Last Updated: 18/04/19 10:14am
Rafael Nadal began his quest for an unprecedented 12th Monte-Carlo Masters title with an emphatic victory against Roberto Bautista Agut.
The second seed, who was playing for the first time since pulling out of the Indian Wells semi-finals last month because of a knee injury, raced past his countryman and world No 22 6-1 6-1 in 76 minutes.
Nadal saved all five break points he faced during the match and has now won his last 16 matches in the principality and the 32-year-old will meet Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.
"This is just the first match. [It has] been a very positive start," said Nadal. "The result says that. And the feeling on court, too... I just started well. It's the first match in almost a year on this surface. But, of course, a start like this helps."
Dimitrov lost to Nadal in last year's semi-final of the tournament - which is the opener of the European clay court season - and would become only the fifth player to beat the Spaniard in Monte-Carlo should he pull off a surprise result.
The Bulgarian defeated Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to seal his 14th victory in 20 appearances at the third Masters 1000 event of the season.
Earlier, Cameron Norrie reached the last 16 with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 win against Marton Fucsovics in one hour and 46 minutes.
The British No 2 beat his Hungarian opponent, ranked 19 place higher in the rankings, despite losing the opening three games of the first set as he set up a meeting against Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego.
World No 3 Alexander Zverev proved too strong for Canadian wildcard Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1 6-4 and will next face Fabio Fognini after the Italian benefited from a walkover against Gilles Simon.
Dominic Thiem, last year's French Open finalist, defeated Martin Klizan 6-1 6-4 to set up a meeting with Serbia's Dusan Lajovic who knocked out 16th seed David Goffin 6-3 6-4.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was another comfortable winner as the sixth seed from Greece beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 7-5 and will face now face world No 14 Daniil Medvedev.
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