Day three of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters saw the second round come to a conclusion with second seed Rafael Nadal beginning his quest for a 12th title in Monaco with an overwhelming victory over countryman Roberto Bautista Agut.
Third seed Alexander Zverev won his much anticipated showdown with 18-year old Felix Auger-Aliassime while fifth seed Kei Nishikori and 16th seed David Goffin were sent packing. Fabio Fognini advanced via walkover from Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Nadal begins with emphatic win
The Spaniard ran his lifetime record in Monte Carlo to 69-4 in dismissing his compatriot in just 76 minutes. Nadal saved all five break points against him to post his 16th straight match win in the Principality.
"This is just the first match", he said following the victory. "The result says that. And the feeling on court, too...I started well. It's the first match in almost a year on this surface. But of course, a start like this helps". He faces Grigor Dimitrov in the third round after the Bulgarian knocked off Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (2), 6-4.
"Tomorrow is another good test against Grigor, so we'll see", Nadal said of the 13th meeting with Dimitrov. "I need to play well again".
Zverev, Thiem, Medvedev, Tsitsipas move into round three
Zverev blitzed past the rising young Canadian star in just 31 minutes before Auger-Aliassime claimed a break lead twice in the second set only to be pegged back by the German, who broke for the victory. Applying constant pressure on returns, making an outstanding 96 percent, the 21-year old advances to play Fognini, who benefitted from Simon's back injury.
Fourth seed Dominic Thiem also got off to the perfect start, handling the dangerous Martin Klizan 6-1, 6-4 while sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas took care of Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 7-5. Tenth seed Daniil Medvedev will be the Greek's next opponent after he blitzed Radu Albot 6-1, 6-2.
Unseeded Fritz, Norrie post wins
In two matchups featuring a pair of unseeded players, American Taylor Fritz posted one of the most impressive wins of his career, routing Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2. The 21-year old next faces a monumental challenge as he plays top seed Novak Djokovic.
Cameron Norrie also booked a spot in round three as he bagged a fine 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory over Marton Fucsovics. The Brit has a good look at his first Masters quarterfinal as he next goes up against Lorenzo Sonego on Thursday.
Nishikori, Goffin sent packing
Having reached last year's final, the fifth-seeded Japanese star had fond memories in Monte Carlo, but he was undone by a terrific effort by Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who claimed his third career top ten win by a 7-5, 6-4 scoreline in one hour, 42 minutes.
"This was a very nice victory. Probably one of the nicest on clay and probably one of the nicest of my career, so I am really excited about it", said the world number 49. "I'm very happy for this victory, but we shouldn't exaggerate.
"I had ten break points that I had to save and i'm happy I managed to play good in the difficult points. It was tricky, because it wouldn't have taken much for him to take the advantage".
Goffin was stopped by Serb Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in one hour, 28 minutes. The world number 48 was efficient on his break point chances, converting four of his eight opportunities to set up a clash with Thiem, who he has yet to beat in five career meetings.