Ruud wins in Monaco to extend clay-court streak

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MONACO — Fourth-seeded Casper Ruud extended his winning streak on clay to nine matches to reach the third round at the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

The 2022 French Open runner-up was made to work hard by Botic Van De Zandschulp in his opening match at the Country Club before winning 7-5, 7-6 (1) on the slow surface.

Ruud has won the past two clay events he has played, in Gstaad last July and in Estoril last week.

“It is never easy to start at a new tournament and against a player I have lost to before,” said Ruud, who fell to his Dutch opponent in Miami last month. “Sometimes it is a little tricky playing someone you recently lost to, like ‘Not again’, but in this case I was a bit happy because I felt like some unfinished business from the Miami match.”

Ruud, who saved one set point in the second set, will next be up against Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated 14th-seeded Alex De Minaur 6-3, 6-2.

After struggling with consistency at the start of the year in the wake of his best season, Ruud has found his confidence back on his best surface.

“It felt great last week in Estoril,” he said. “It felt very comfortable. Today was at times a very good match, but at times a little rusty. There are a lot of positives to build on.”

Third-seeded Daniil Medvedev made a clinical start to his clay-court season, edging Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with 13th-seeded Alexander Zverev.

Medvedev has been in superb form recently, winning 25 of his past 26 matches during a run that saw him clinch four titles.

Among those advancing to the third round were seventh-seeded Jannik Sinner, No. 8 seed Taylor Fritz, and Lorenzo Musetti, who got past fellow Italian Luca Nardi 6-0, 6-0. The quick win earned Musetti the right to take on top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal and second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz pulled out of the tournament last week. Nadal has won it a record 11 times, including an Open-era-record streak of eight consecutive titles 2005-12. But the 22-time Grand Slam champion has been sidelined with a left hip flexor injury since the Australian Open.

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