Monte Carlo Masters 2018 Results: Novak Djokovic Upset, Rafael Nadal Advances

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2018

Austria's Dominic Thiem returns the ball to Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their tennis match as part of the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament, on April 19, 2018 in Monaco. (Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
VALERY HACHE/Getty Images

Former champion Novak Djokovic crashed out of the 2018 Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday after a three-set epic against fifth seed Dominic Thiem.

The Austrian came back from a set down to win the last-16 encounter 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3 in just shy of two-and-a-half hours as Djokovic's fatigue told towards the end. 

Elsewhere, defending champion Rafael Nadal cruised to the next round, easily beating Karen Khachanov.

David Goffin dispatched Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the last eight, while third seed Alexander Zverev booked a quarter-final spot after being taken the distance by fellow German Jan-Lennard Struff.

Meanwhile, second seed Marin Cilic was given a walkover into the quarters after Milos Raonic pulled out of the tournament due to a knee injury.

Here are the results from Thursday's action in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.

         

Thursday Results

(5) Dominic Thiem bt. (9) Novak Djokovic: 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3

(4) Grigor Dimitrov bt. Philipp Kohlschreiber: 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 

(6) David Goffin bt. (11) Roberto Bautista Agut: 6-4, 7-5 

(3) Alexander Zverev bt. Jan-Lennard Struff: 6-4, 4-6, 6-4

(1) Rafael Nadal bt. Karen Khachanov: 6-3, 6-2

Kei Nishikori bt. (Q) Andrea Seppi: 6-0, 2-6, 6-3

         

For the results and schedule in full, visit the Pro Tennis Live app.

        

Djokovic Falls to Thiem

Thiem was almost perfect in his first set against Djokovic on Thursday, right up to the point he had a chance to win it. He broke early to rush into a 3-0 lead and continued to pressure Djokovic's serve by hitting the lines.

At 5-2 down and serving to stay in the opener, Djokovic was forced to play some phenomenal shots, including a sumptuous backhand crosscourt, just to make Thiem serve again.

It looked as though Thiem would serve out the opener with ease, but then Djokovic saved two break points, the second with a fantastic lob, and then got back on level terms.

Per tennis commentator Jose Morgado, Thiem was so close to a perfect set:

The momentum swung firmly in the direction of the 12-time Grand Slam champion after Thiem failed to serve out the set, and Djokovic proceeded to win the tiebreak 7-2.

There were flashes of Djokovic, 30, at his best in the opening-set comeback, as his defence held firm and his movement often astounded.

However, there was to be no breeze to victory. Djokovic's aura of invincibility has been cracked somewhat recently, and Thiem responded with some fantastic tennis on the Monaco clay to level things up in the second set.

The Austrian broke for a 3-2 lead at the third attempt and then secured the crucial double break for 5-2 before producing a strong service game to win the second set.  

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 19:  Noval Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand against Dominic Thiem of Austria during his men's singles match on day five of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 19, 2018 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Given Djokovic's recent fitness issues, the suspicion was that Thiem would have the edge in the decider, and so it proved.

However, the 24-year-old had to be consistently brilliant to break his opponent's defence.

The crucial shot came at 3-3 on Djokovic's serve, when Thiem produced a stinging backhand down the line to break.  

He then took his second match point at 5-3 in Djokovic's next service game to book his spot in the last eight.

    

Khachanov No Match for Nadal

There was no upset for the in-form Khachanov against Nadal, who continued to build on his sensational track record in Monte Carlo:

The Spaniard showed one or two signs of rust in his win over Aljaz Bedene in the previous round, which was to be expected after his long period away from the court. There were no such issues on Thursday, however, as Nadal was in full control against the 21-year-old Khachanov.

The Russian couldn't keep up in the rallies or make any inroads on Nadal's serve, and his opponent picked his spots to switch gears and gain advantages early and often.

Nadal's serve was also clicking, a positive sign heading into the later rounds of the tournament.

As shared by Christopher Clarey of the New York Times, his next challenge will be of a whole different level:

Thiem showed his class in the win over Djokovic and was one of the few players on tour who really pushed Nadal on clay last year, grabbing a win in Rome. 

The Austrian is seemingly always improving and won the Argentina Open earlier this year.

Related

    Tennis legend King honoured at Sports Personality

    Tennis logo
    Tennis

    Tennis legend King honoured at Sports Personality

    BBC Sport
    via BBC Sport

    Billie Jean King: Battle of the Sexes most important moment in my life

    Tennis logo
    Tennis

    Billie Jean King: Battle of the Sexes most important moment in my life

    BBC Sport
    via BBC Sport

    Advent calendar 2018: Kevin Anderson wins second-longest match in Wimbledon history

    Tennis logo
    Tennis

    Advent calendar 2018: Kevin Anderson wins second-longest match in Wimbledon history

    BBC Sport
    via BBC Sport

    Always Know the Score - Grab the Merch 🛒

    Tennis logo
    Tennis

    Always Know the Score - Grab the Merch 🛒

    B/R SHOP
    via B/R SHOP