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Impressive Djokovic fends off Sinner in Monte Carlo opener

World No 1 Novak Djokovic showed Jannik Sinner that the changing of the guard will have to wait as he recorded a confident straight-sets win over the Italian in Monte Carlo on Wednesday

Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo, 2nd round
Djokovic beats Sinner 6-4, 6-2

  • The headline: Novak Djokovic too strong for teenager Jannik Sinner in Monte Carlo second round
  • Other key info: The world No 1 uses drop shots to great effect to see off the 19-year-old in his first match since the Australian Open
  • Why you should read this story: Sinner showed plenty of resilience but Djokovic was good value for victory.

The clash between world No 1 Novak Djokovic and the 19-year-old Jannik Sinner was billed as the present against the future but it seems that Djokovic is not going anywhere just yet.

Highlights: Djokovic dusts off rust with Sinner win

The Serb, in his first match since winning the Australian Open for a ninth time in February, dropped serve early on but bounced back quickly, pulling Sinner around the court and using the drop shot astutely to claim victory.

“It feels great,” Djokovic said. “It was a very good encounter. I thought it was a great first match. Jannik is in form…I just hung in there today and managed to find the right shots at the right moments. But (Sinner’s) proven he’s the future of our sport, he’s already the present of our sport.”

Novak Djokovic Monte Carlo 2021

Fresh from his run to his first Masters 1000 final in Miami earlier this month, Sinner went into the match with confidence and looked strong when he broke for 2-1. But Djokovic, who chose to take a break after his Melbourne victory, soon found his rhythm, breaking back immediately and then again two games later on his way to a 5-2 lead.

Sinner, flashing a few big winners when he had the chance, showed his strength by breaking back for 5-4 but after a long 10th game, Djokovic found another break to wrap it up when Sinner sent a backhand long.

Djokovic maintains momentum

Sinner tried everything to upset the Djokovic rhythm but the top seed continued to control the match, the drop shot working well, and his defence often asking one more question of the Italian.

The 19-year-old’s defences were breached again in the fourth game of the second set, Djokovic breaking for 3-1 and he didn’t look back, extending his lead to 5-2, saving a break point in the seventh game.

Djokovic then finished things off when Sinner double faulted to seal a clash with Britain’s Dan Evans, who beat Hubert Hurkacz, the Miami champion, 6-4, 6-1.

Jannik Sinner

Sinner said he still needed to gain experience of how to play his best against the very best players.

“I think the biggest part where I have to learn, but I knew already, is to understand the right situations in every match, to don’t go too much, don’t go too slow, all the rest. It’s trying to understand the situation. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.

“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work, like today where maybe your opponent is better than you or understands faster than you. That’s the point. He’s doing that. I think I have to learn this part of the game.”

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