Recharged Djokovic makes winning return to Madrid clay

A relaxed and refreshed Novak Djokovic showed his best clay form as the top seed returned after a month away, beating teenager Borna Coric 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday for a place in the third round of the Madrid Masters.

The world number one, who admitted that he needed time to decompress after losing his opening match of the pre-French Open clay season in early April at home in Monte Carlo, has put the defeat out of mind.

He is playing in Madrid for the first times since 2013 after missing the event with injury and for scheduling purposes.

"I performed very solid in opening round, few things could have been better against a young player that I never played against.

"It was my second match on the clay court season for me - the first one didn't go so well. I had some time to recuperate emotionally and mentally.

"I needed that more than physically because it has been a very successful but very demanding start of the season, first four months. I played a lot of matches," Djokovic said.

Djokovic will play for the quarter-finals when he next takes on Gilles Simon after the 16th seed beat Pablo Carreno Busta 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Nick Kyrgios continued a run of form on the clay, upsetting 2013 finalist Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-2).

Australia's Kyrgios, a semi-finalist last week in Portugal, beat the reigning French Open winner in just under two hours.

Wawrinka never broke Kyrgios but managed to partially redeem himself with 11 aces. The fourth seed put his loss down to some hard luck and moments of top form from his opponent.

"His serve was tough to read. It was a high-level match but a few points can make the difference," Wawrinka said.

"It was generally a good match, I had chances in the first set. He was serving well in the big moments. He played better on a few important points."

Japan's Kei Nishikori, finalist against Rafael Nadal two years ago, denied Italian Fabio Fognini an upset result, advancing 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Fognini served for the match but was unable to close it out against the recent Barcelona clay finalist.

Eighth seed Tomas Berdych showed no signs of the stomach virus which hit him at the weekend, with the Czech advancing over Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-3. Spain's ninth seed David Ferrer, coming back from injury, stopped Denis Kudla 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

The women's side lost a pair of seeded protagonists as defending champion Petra Kvitova was beaten and Victoria Azarenka was forced to withdraw due to lower back pain.

Fourth seed Azarenka became the second high-profile pull-out from the event due to back problems, joining Roger Federer on the sidelines..

Azarenka's withdrawal sends 130th-ranked US qualifier Louisa Chirico into a second career quarter-final after Washington last summer.

Kvitova, a 2011 and 2012 Madrid finalist, lost to Australian Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-4 in the third round.

Azarenka is hoping to be ready to start in Rome next week but can make no promises: "I have to take it day by day and see if my body's ready. I'll hope to take tests today so we can take action."

She added: "I tweaked my back in my first match on a cold day, in my second match, I was in a lot of discomfort. I thought a day off would help, but today during a hit it came back again.

"I just don't feel I'm able to compete today."

Romanian Simona Halep remains the highest seed left on sixth. She advanced by beating Swiss tenth seed Timea Bacsinszky 6-2, 6-3, ending a run of seven wins from eight matches played over nine days.

Irina Begu put out Christina McHale 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-4; Sorona Cirstea beat Germany's Laura Siegemund 6-4, 7-6 (11-9).

Last update: Wed, 04/05/2016 - 21:15

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