MONACO (AP) — Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafael Nadal needed a combined 14 match points to reach the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.
After Djokovic finally converted his 10th match point to beat Borna Coric 7-6 (2) 7-5, Nadal required four in a 6-1, 6-3 win against Aljaz Bedene 6-1, 6-3.
Djokovic first missed two match points with Coric serving at 5-3, then wasted another seven in a marathon game when serving for the match. The ninth-seeded Serb took a 40-0 lead in that game, but then hit one backhand long, another backhand wide, before an unforced error into the net.
Coric finally broke to make it 5-5, but Djokovic broke straight back and the 10th match point did the trick with Coric sending a backhand long.
Match point from Djokovic’s win over Coric in Monte Carlo:
“It was a battle until the last point, a good test,” said Djokovic, who will next face fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Nadal had a much easier match but also struggled to put the finishing touches on his win.
Serving at 5-3 and 0-40, Bedene saved the Spaniard’s third match point with an audacious drop shot. But it was only a brief reprieve, because Nadal took his next chance when his Slovenian opponent whipped a forehand into the net.
Match point from Nadal’s win over Bedene in Monte Carlo:
Nadal, who saved two break points in the fifth game of the match, is chasing a record-extending 11th title here. The top-ranked Spaniard next faces big-serving Russian Karen Khachanov.
Djokovic has won the title twice, including when he ended Nadal’s 46-match winning streak by winning the 2013 title. They are on course to meet in the quarterfinals.
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