Rafael Nadal steamrolls to opening Monte Carlo Masters win

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Monte Carlo, April 17: Rafael Nadal charged out of the blocks Wednesday to hammer Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1 in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters.
The 11-time champion showed no sign of the knee problems which forced him to quit ahead of an Indian Wells semi-final against Roger Federer a month ago.
The 32-year-old had expressed pre-tournament caution regarding the health of his knee — a worry which appeared to be groundless after a 76-minute masterclass.
Nadal collected the opening five games of the afternoon in 17 minutes as he set the tone for another dominant display in the principality.
He was equally in control during the second set, where he saved three break points in the fourth game and two more in the sixth. (AFP)

Kei Nishikori knocked out of Monte Carlo Masters

MONTE CARLO, April 17: Japan’s Kei Nishikori lost his opening match of the clay season on Wednesday, with Asia’s top player crashing to a 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Fifth seed Nishikori reached the final here last year but will lose a chunk of ranking points after he hit 25 unforced errors and just 14 winners in succumbing to Frenchman Herbert.
Nishikori will now move on to Barcelona next week, where he owns two titles as he works on his clay form as the run-up to Roland Garros intensifies.
Herbert, who overcame Fernando Verdasco in the first roud, struck 31 winners in his upset to avenge a three-set loss to Nishikori in Rotterdam earlier this season. (AFP)