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Sinner looks smooth at Monte Carlo Masters, defending champ Rublev falls


MONACO (AP) — After dominating on aggressive hard courts, Jannik Sinner made a smooth transition to softer clay by beating Sebastian Korda 6-1, 6-2 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

But defending champion Andrey Rublev was eliminated after a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Alexei Popyrin.

Sinner won 95 percent of points on his first serve and saved all three break points in improving his record to 23-1 this year. He has three titles in 2024, including the Australian Open — his first major trophy — and recently the Miami Open.

“I moved quite well in these conditions," said the 22-year-old Italian, who reached the semifinals at Monte Carlo last year. "Every year it is tough to come here and perform well but I am happy with the performance.”

Sinner next faces Jan-Lennard Struff on Thursday in the third round, where he will join two-time champions Novak Djokovic — who won on Tuesday — and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 12th-seeded Tsitsipas routed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-1, 6-0, breaking his serve six times, and next faces No. 5 Alexander Zverev.

The sixth-seeded Rublev dropped his serve three times against Popyrin, who next faces No. 11 Alex de Minaur in an all-Australian contest at the Monte Carlo Country Club, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.

“I am feeling really comfortable on (clay) and happy to beat a guy who was in form, confident and the defending champ," Popyrin said. "It was an awesome match.”

De Minaur rallied past unseeded Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Also in the second round, there were wins for No. 14 Ugo Humbert, No. 15 Karen Khachanov and lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego, who replaced the injured Carlos Alcaraz after he pulled out on Tuesday with a right forearm injury.

Record 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal pulled out with a lingering injury before the tournament.


AP tennis:

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