Novak Djokovic is into the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters, as he overcame a nervy finish to beat Borna Coric on Wednesday.
After an even first set, the Serb edged a tiebreak to go ahead in the contest. Djokovic then had the chance to wrap up a routine win, although Coric showed incredible reserve to save nine match points and keep himself in the match. But at the 10th time of asking, the ninth seed got over the line 7-6 (2), 7-5.
Later in the day, Rafael Nadal started his quest for an 11th title at this event, as he cruised to a win over Aljaz Bedene.
Here are the results from Wednesday's play in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.
Selected Wednesday Results
(9) Novak Djokovic bt. Borna Coric, 7-6 (2), 7-5
(11) Roberto Bautista Agut bt. Feliciano Lopez, 6-3, 7-6 (5)
Jan-Lennard Struff bt. (13) Fabio Fognini, 6-4, 6-2
Kei Nishikori bt. Daniil Medvedev, 7-5, 6-2
(1) Rafael Nadal bt. Aljaz Bedene, 6-1, 6-3
Selected Thursday Schedule
(6) David Goffin vs. (11) Roberto Bautista Agut
(9) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) Dominic Thiem
(1) Rafael Nadal vs. Karen Khachanov
For the results and schedule in full, visit the competition website.
Djokovic Battles Past Coric
Given the form showcased by Coric this season, this match was never going to be straightforward for Djokovic.
The 30-year-old dominated early on, and a break of serve propelled him into a 4-1 lead. The Croatian capitalised after some unforced errors crept into Djokovic's game, though, and he was able to quickly get back on level terms in the set.
Some tense games and missed chances for Coric followed, meaning a tiebreak was needed to separate the duo. In the end, Djokovic was able to find some of his best tennis to edge a set up.
As noted by Metro's George Bellshaw, Coric would've lamented not being ruthless enough at key points in the contest:
Having lost such a tight opener, the challenge for the underdog was going to be bouncing back in the second set. He got off to the worst possible start, as Djokovic broke him in the first game, but the Croatian showed terrific fight to bounce straight back.
There were signs of Djokovic finding a better rhythm as the match went on, though, and he was straight back on the accelerator in the next game to break again. This time, the Serb was able to consolidate.
The ninth seed was then able to move to the brink of victory, but sealing it proved a massive challenge. Coric saved two match points to force Djokovic to serve it out, and the next game, he rescued another three after Djokovic was 40-0 up.
An incredible sequence then followed, as Djokovic created another four match points after deuce, all of which he squandered. Coric then seized his opportunity, breaking to level the second set at 5-5.
Per Live Tennis, it was some effort from the Croatian:
Yet Djokovic showed incredible will, putting that disappointment behind him and breaking back immediately. At the second time of asking, he was able to serve out the match, snatching his 10th match point of the contest.
Nadal Eases Past Bedene in ATP Tour Return
While Coric gave Djokovic a tough outing on Wednesday, Bedene was unable to do the same against Nadal. The defending champion dropped just four games in the win, setting up a date with Karen Khachanov.
Per Omnisport, it was his first match on tour since the Australian Open:
The Spaniard was far from perfect, as he committed a number of unforced errors during the match. His defence was on point, however, and Bedene could not keep up in the rallies or make the most of his break chances.
Nadal should be in for a tougher challenge in the next round, as Khachanov showed his excellent form on clay in a win over Gilles Simon. The 21-year-old also lost just four games in a dominant showing.