Novak Djokovic finds form on return in Monte Carlo

Updated 16 April 2018
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Novak Djokovic finds form on return in Monte Carlo

  • Serb returns to courts after early exits at both Indian Wells and Miami
  • Former world No.1 has slipped to No. 13 in the world rankings

Former world No.1 Novak Djokovic showed signs of rediscovering his form with a dominant 6-0 6-1 victory over Dusan Lajovic in the opening round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.
Djokovic’s start of the season was disrupted by an elbow surgery, and has since suffered defeats in consecutive opening matches at Indian Wells and Miami.
But there were no signs of his recent struggles as he kickstarted his claycourt campaign in style to record a victory over fellow Serb Lajovic in just 57 minutes.
Djokovic, a two-time winner at Monte Carlo, dropped just eight points as he wrapped up the first set with his opponent well off the pace.
Lajovic, ranked 93 in the world, offered resistance in the second set to level at 1-1 but failed to capitalize on a break point as the 12-time grand slam winner roared back to book a second round meeting with Borna Coric of Croatia.
Earlier in the day, Japan’s Kei Nishikori came back from a set down to see off Czech 12th seed Tomas Berdych 4-6 6-2 6-1 and reach the second round.
Nishikori, who missed a large part of last season with a wrist injury, started the season in the Challenger Tour events before reaching the second round at Miami.
He was playing close to his best tennis despite calling for a medical timeout for his troublesome wrist.
“It’s not great but first match on clay, you know, I’m expecting little soreness,” Nishikori said.
“Hopefully I have a day off tomorrow. If I have to play tomorrow, I got to be ready tonight.”
The 28-year-old, who is making his first Monte Carlo appearance since 2012, will face Russian Daniil Medvedev in the next round.
World No. 51 Jared Donaldson confronted an umpire after disagreeing with a call made in his first-round defeat by last-year’s finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
While 6-3, 3-2 down, the 21-year-old American became outraged when a serve by the Spaniard was called in by Arnaud Gabas when he believed it was out.
Donaldson eventually lost 6-3 6-3 and apologized to Ramos-Vinolas but refused to shake Gabas’ hand.


Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 28 min 55 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."