De Minaur wins in Monte Carlo but Thompson withdraws

After waiting nearly two and a half hours waiting for the rain to relent at the Monte Carlo Masters Alex de Minaur has brushed aside three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka in barely an hour. 

The Australian No.1 defeated the veteran Swiss 6-3 6-0 to chalk up his 20th win of 2024 and move into the last 32 in Monaco.

However Jordan Thompson withdrew with an unspecified injury shortly before he was due on the claycourt to play Gael Monfils. Thompson had won a doubles event across the Atlantic Ocean in Houston with Max Purcell at the weekend

Fellow Aussie Aleksandar Vukic replaced him as a lucky loser and, surprisingly given his lack of preparation, managed to take the first set. However, he ultimately lost again, 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 5-7 in two hours, 13 minutes.  

World No.3 Carlos Alcaraz also withdrew on Tuesday, with an arm injury.

"My attitude (was important),” said de Minaur of his match. “(I didn't play) my best tennis to come out with on the first match on the clay. So I stayed tough, stayed solid, I played tough when I needed to and I found my way into the match and started playing better and better."

De Minaur now meets Tallon Griekspoor hoping to reach the last 16 for the first time in the Principality. If he does gain his first win over the Dutchman in three meetings he will next face either defending champion Andrey Rublev or compatriot Alexei Popyrin. 

"I think with every year of experience I look forward to the clay season even more,” said de Minaur. 

“In the past, maybe mentally I wasn’t really ready to tell myself I was going to be good on the clay. That, plus I put on a little bit of weight, put on a bit of muscle.

“Claycourt tennis is always so physical and there is a lot of strength involved, so I’ve put on a couple of kilos and hopefully it helps me this clay season.”

Alcaraz was meanwhile packing his bags. He wrote on social media: "I have been working in Monte Carlo and trying to recover until the last minute from an injured pronator teres in my right arm, but it was not possible and I cannot play! I was really looking forward to playing... See you next year!"

Novak Djokovic played his first match since parting ways with long-time coach Goran Ivanisevic.

With former Serbian doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic guiding him from the stands, Djokovic, now the oldest men's singles No.1 in history, eased to a 6-1 6-2 victory over Russia's Roman Safiullin.

The 36-year-old said: "I'm very pleased. Even the games that I lost, I had break points in those games. Really good first match at the start of the clay season. I hope to maintain this rhythm."

Among other winners were Alexander Zverev, Hubert Hurkacz and Sebastian Korda, who now meets Jannik Sinner.

Off-court Spanish player Aaron Cortes has been given a 15-year ban for match-fixing and other offences.

The 29-year-old, who reached a singles highest ranking of No. 995 in 2017, was fined $US75,000 ($A113,000) and banned from playing, coaching and even attending official tennis events until March 27, 2039.

with agencies

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