Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal off to flying start as Djokovic’s poor run continues

Five-time Madrid Open champion, Rafael Nadal registered his 20th consecutive victory on clay after seeing off Gael Monfils with a 6-3, 6-1 win in their second round clash on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Spaniard needed just 73 minutes to wrap up his 48th straight set on clay, to begin his title defense comfortably.

Meanwhile, former world no. 1, Novak Djokovic is enduring a frustrating start back to the game after his injury return.

The Serbian lost to South African-born Kyle Edmund 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in what is now the sixth straight tournament in which he has failed to reach the quarterfinals. The 12-time Grand Slam champion has struggled this year after saying he returned to action too quickly following a persistent right elbow injury.

“There are obvious things that are not working well for me,” Djokovic said. “But I have to keep working on them and pray that … and hope that my game will get stronger.”

Djokovic lost in the second round in both Miami and Indian Wells and got dumped out in the third round in Monte Carlo. At the Australian Open in January, the Serbian also failed to advance past the Last 16.

In other matches, Eighth-ranked Kevin Anderson defeated qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2 to set up a third round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who edged Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

In the women’s field, Simona Halep stayed well on track for a title defense with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kristyna Pliskova to reach the quarterfinals. The world no. 1 will next face Kristyna’s twin, Karolina Pliskova, who beat US Open champion, Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3.

World no. 2, Caroline Wozniacki’s bid to reclaim the top spot on the WTA ranking ended as she was thrashed 6-2, 6-2 by German world no. 20, Kiki Bertens in just over a hour.

Wozniacki needed to win the title in Madrid to overcome Halep for the No. 1 spot.

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