Stefanos Tsitsipas grabbed the first of the third-round spots at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Russian Aslan Karatsev.
Fourth-seeded Greek Tsitsipas left no room for Russia’s surprise Australian Open semi-finalist who came from a qualifying start in Melbourne then won the Dubai title.
The seed advanced in 85 minutes saving four-of-four break points.
“I knew I had to face a difficult opponent today,” the winner said. “Aslan has [had some] great results this year.
“I managed to push him back and attack with my forehand. Things worked out pretty well for me.
“My clay court experience helps a lot to come back each year stronger. It was a very beautiful match out there and I enjoyed it,” he said of the contest played without any crowds due to French COVID regulations.
Tsitsipas has been on a tear this season, reaching the Australian Open semi-finals and finishing runner-up at Acapulco.
He now owns 18 match wins against five defeats in 2021 and has room to improve here after never passing the third round in his two previous appearances.
Tsitsipas wil have a day off as he awaits the winner from Australian John Millman and Cristian Garin.
The Chilean 16th seed beat Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(3), 6-1 on Tuesday in a rain-hit match which began on Monday.
Nowway’s Casper Ruud defeated Dane Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-2, 6-1 and now goes against Argentine seventh seed Diego Schwartzman, who has defeated him all four times they have played.