Canada’s Bianca Andreescu advanced to the second round of the Italian Open on a walkover Tuesday after opponent Emma Raducanu retired owing to a back injury.
Andreescu led the battle of recent U.S. Open champions 6-2, 2-1 when Raducanu, the 10th seed in Rome, was forced to withdraw.
Also Tuesday, men’s eighth seed Félix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal advanced with a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and 13th seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., moved on with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Raducanu’s struggles were evident early. Andreescu went up a break quickly and proceeded to convert three of her 11 breakpoint chances while winning 84 per cent of service points. Andreescu did not face a break point.
Andreescu, from Mississauga, will face Spain’s Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in the second round on Wednesday. Parrizas-Diaz was trailing Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 4-3 in a first-round match when Sorribes Tormo retired with a back injury.
Andreescu won the U.S. Open in 2019. Britain’s Raducanu won in 2021, defeating Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the final.
Shapovalov had a relatively routine win after his testy three-plus hour opener against Italian favourite Lorenzo Sonego that saw him swear at the booing crowd after arguing with a line judge.
Shapovalov overcame five unforced errors and saved the only break point he faced in the win that took one hour 40 minutes to complete.
He broke Basilashvili once in the first set then took a 5-1 lead in the second set tiebreaker after both players held serve
Basilashvili came back and narrowed the gap to 6-5 on a Shapovalov double-fault, but the Canadian cashed in against serve on his first match-point chance.
Shapovalov will next face the winner of a Wednesday match between Spanish legend Rafael Nadal and hard-serving American John Isner.
Auger-Aliassime, who had a bye in the first round, needed just more than three hours to defeat world No. 29 Davidovich Fokina.
The Canadian responded after Davidovich Fokina rode his effective first serve to victory in the opening set.
Auger-Aliassime defended all three break points he faced in the set, including two in the ninth game with the score tied 4-4.
With both players holding serve throughout the set, Auger-Aliassime scored five straight points in the tiebreaker to tie the match at a set each.
Auger-Aliassime dominated the third set, winning 72 per cent of first-serve points and breaking Davidovich Fokina three times on six chances.
Auger-Aliassime will next face the winner of Wednesday’s match between 12th-seed Argentine Diego Schwartzman and Marcos Giron of the United States.
Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., was scheduled to face Daria Kasatkina in a women’s second-round match Wednesday.
Still attempting to get his nearly unbeatable form back after his time away from the tour, Novak Djokovic took another step in the right direction with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Aslan Karatsev in his opening match at the Italian Open on Tuesday.
The top-ranked Djokovic, who is bidding for a sixth Rome title, showed off some vintage scrambling abilities late in the first set when he ran down one shot near the net post then sprinted back across the net to dig out a low backhand volley winner.
Djokovic needs to reach the semi-finals in Rome to stay No. 1. Otherwise, Daniil Medvedev will take the top spot and the top seed at the French Open, which starts in 12 days.
Djokovic missed several key tournaments earlier this year because he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus — which led to him being deported from Australia ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam.
Still seeking his first title of 2022, Djokovic lost the final in his home Serbia Open to Andrey Rublev then was beaten by 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open semi-finals last weekend.
Djokovic will next face either three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka or compatriot Laslo Djere.
Also on the red clay courts of the Foro Italico, big-serving John Isner eliminated Miami Open semi-finalist Francisco Cerundolo 6-4, 6-3 and will next face 10-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal.
Diego Schwartzman, a finalist in Rome two years ago, saved two match points before eliminating Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3).
Grigor Dimitrov beat American qualifier Brandon Nakashima 6-3, 6-4 and will next face fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Sebastian Baez, who recently won a clay-court title in Estoril, Portugal, extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-2 victory over fellow qualifier Tallon Griekspoor. Baez next plays Alexander Zverev.
Also, Madrid Open runner-up Jessica Pegula rallied past Liudmila Samsonova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
American qualifiers Madison Brengle and Lauren Davis both advanced in straight sets. Brengle beat fellow qualifier Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-3 and Davis defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-3.
Amanda Anisimova, another American and a French Open semi-finalist in 2019, held off Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 and will next play Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic.
Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, was beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Ekaterina Alexandrova.
With a report from The Associated Press