Juan Martin Del Potro opened his 2013 clay season surviving tough 3-set challenge from shotmaker Alexandr Dolgpolov in the second round at the Monte Carlo Masters today. Del Potro dropped the first set 6-1 to the Ukraine but finally put his game in order to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
John Isner was also stretched to the three sets but the American wasn’t as fortunate as Del Potro. Battling a hip/muscle issue Isner couldn’t hold off Ernests Gulbis losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Isner had just won Sunday in Houston, landed yesterday in Monte Carlo and his body couldn’t last the full match against Gulbis. A late wildcard, Isner collected just over $12,000 for playing in Monte this week.
Meanwhile Gulbis, the last direct entrant into the field, has won 15 of his 16 matches including qualifying. He’ll face Juan Monaco tomorrow.
French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looked sharp beating Nikolay Davydenko 7-6, 6-2. “It was a pretty good start, but I can do better,” Tsonga said. “I got broken from the start. But I did play a solid match and I was able to manage the situation quite well. I’m happy I won because he can be a very dangerous player. He’s proven it in the past. If I was able to win, it means I was able also to do something good on the court.”
Tsonga’s countryman Gael Monfils was upset by Spanish veteran Albert Montanes in three. Richard Gasquet, Juan Monaco, Stan Wawrinka , Nicolas Almagro and Grigor Dimitrov who upset Janko Tipsarevic were among the other winners today.
“I was just trying to hang into the match,” said Dimitrov after a 7-6, 6-1 win over the Serb. “It’s never easy playing against Janko. Today was one of these days I was really looking forward to coming out on court and actually having a lot of fun, just trying to play good tennis in a way. I fought till the last point in the first set. I gave an extra edge as the match went on. I was very happy with the performance today.”
The eight-ranked Tipsarevic who is just 2-7 in his last nine matches tweeted afterward that he needs a break from tennis.
“Taking some time off…this has nothing to do with forehands and backhands no more…” he tweeted. “By the way…I am not taking a holiday…Just a few days off to clear my mind…”
On a very busy Wednesday, the Top 4 seeds will hit the courts. Top ranked Novak Djokovic tests his gimpy ankle against Russian Mikhail Youzhny. Eight time Monte Carlo champion puts his 42-match win streak at the tournament against Aussie Marinko Matosevic. Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych are also scheduled.
“I don’t feel I am the biggest favorite to win the tournament this year. It’s not easy to win this tournament. I will go day by day,” Nadal said on Monday. “It’s not possible to win every year. Some day that’s going to stop. I will try my best to make that happen, but that’s life. Not everything is forever. But I am very excited to be here and have a high motivation to play well and put myself in position to have a good tournament. I am a candidate if I play my game.”
Nadal seeks a ninth Monte Carlo title.
COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
 T Berdych (CZE) vs M Granollers (ESP)
M Matosevic (AUS) vs  R Nadal (ESP)
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs M Youzhny (RUS)
[Q] E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs  A Murray (GBR)
COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
 M Raonic (CAN) vs J Nieminen (FIN)
[Q] A Ramos (ESP) vs F Fognini (ITA)
J Melzer (AUT) vs  N Almagro (ESP)
E Gulbis (LAT) vs  J Monaco (ARG)
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Djokovic Advances In Dubai, Federer Returns Wednesday; Murray Wins, Isner Falls In Mexico
John Isner Outlasts Nicolas Mahut in Record-Breaking Marathon Tennis Match
Roddick Survives Malisse Scare in Atlanta; Del Potro Improving, Not Playing
Berdych, Wawrinka Bomb Out Of Basel, Federer In Action Wednesday; Gulbis v Isner In Valencia