Canada’s Bianca Andreescu advanced to the second round of the Italian Open on a walkover Tuesday after opponent Emma Raducanu retired due to a back injury.
Andreescu led the battle of recent U.S. Open champions 6-2, 2-1 when Raducanu, the 10th seed in Rome, was forced to withdraw.
Also Tuesday, men’s eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal advanced with a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and 13th seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., moved on with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Raducanu’s struggles were evident early. Andreescu went up a break quickly and proceeded to convert three of her 11 breakpoint chances while winning 84 per cent of service points. Andreescu did not face a break point.
Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., will face Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round. Andreescu won the only other meeting between the players in the quarter-final of last year’s Miami Open.
WATCH | Andreescu cruises past Raducanu:
Andreescu won the U.S. Open in 2019. Britain’s Raducanu won in 2021, defeating Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the final.
Shapovalov had a relatively routine win following his testy three-plus hour opener against Italian favourite Lorenzo Sonego that saw him swear at the booing crowd after arguing with a line judge.
Shapovalov overcame five unforced errors and saved the only break point he faced in the win that took one hour 40 minutes to complete.
He broke Basilashvili once in the first set, then took a 5-1 lead in the second set tiebreaker after both players held serve.
WATCH | Shapovalov advances in straight sets:
Basilashvili came back and narrowed the gap to 6-5 on a Shapovalov double-fault, but the Canadian cashed in against serve on his first match-point chance.
Shapovalov will next face the winner of a Wednesday match between Spanish legend Rafael Nadal and hard-serving American John Isner.
Auger-Aliassime overcomes slow start
Auger-Aliassime, who had a bye in the first round, needed just over three hours to defeat world No. 29 Davidovich Fokina.
The Canadian responded after Davidovich Fokina rode his effective first serve to victory in the opening set.
Auger-Aliassime defended all three break points he faced in the set, including two in the ninth game with the score tied 4-4.
WATCH | Auger-Aliassime dominates 3rd set in Rome:
With both players holding serve throughout the set, Auger-Aliassime scored five straight points in the tiebreaker to tie the match at a set each.
Auger-Aliassime dominated the third set, winning 72 per cent of first-serve points and breaking Davidovich Fokina three times on six chances.
Auger-Aliassime will next face the winner of Wednesday’s match between 12th-seed Argentine Diego Schwartzman and Marcos Giron of the United States.
Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., was scheduled to face Daria Kasatkina in a women’s second-round match Wednesday.
Djokovic takes opener
Still attempting to get his nearly unbeatable form back following his time away from the tour, Novak Djokovic took another step in the right direction with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Aslan Karatsev in his opening match.
The top-ranked Djokovic, who is bidding for a sixth Rome title, showed off some vintage scrambling abilities late in the first set when he ran down one shot near the net post then sprinted back across the net to dig out a low backhand volley winner.
It was the type of point that Djokovic pulled off day after day last year when he came within one match of completing a calendar-year Grand Slam, sweeping all four major titles in the same year.
Playing on a court that is one of his favourites, Djokovic celebrated the point by making a gesture with his hands that urged the Campo Centrale crowd to applaud even louder, bringing many fans to their feet.
“You always hope you can play some exciting and attractive points and come out as a winner of those points and celebrate with the crowd,” Djokovic said. “That’s what the crowd is looking for — they’re looking for energy, excitement, fight and they want to see some good tennis.
“We had some nice points today. It’s always great to play in the colosseum of tennis,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion added.
Clinging to No. 1 status
It was a fairly clean performance for Djokovic, who had only 10 unforced errors to Karatsev’s 36.
Djokovic needs to reach the semifinals in Rome to stay No. 1. Otherwise, Daniil Medvedev will take the top spot and the top seed at the French Open, which starts in 12 days.
Djokovic missed several key tournaments earlier this year because he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus, which led to him being deported from Australia ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam.
Still seeking his first title of 2022, Djokovic lost the final in his home Serbia Open to Andrey Rublev then was beaten by 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open semifinals last weekend.
Djokovic will next face either three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka or compatriot Laslo Djere.
Also on the red clay courts of the Foro Italico, big-serving Isner eliminated Miami Open semifinalist Francisco Cerundolo 6-4, 6-3 and will next face Nadal, a 10-time Rome champion.
In other matches:
- Diego Schwartzman, a finalist in Rome two years ago, saved two match points before eliminating Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3).
- Grigor Dimitrov beat American qualifier Brandon Nakashima 6-3, 6-4 and will next face fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas.
- Sebastian Baez, who recently won a clay-court title in Estoril, Portugal, extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-2 victory over fellow qualifier Tallon Griekspoor. Baez next plays Alexander Zverev.
- Madrid Open runner-up Jessica Pegula rallied past Liudmila Samsonova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
- Amanda Anisimova, another American and a French Open semifinalist in 2019, held off Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 and will next play Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic.
- Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, was beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Ekaterina Alexandrova.
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