Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Tenth seed Fabio Fognini and 11th-seeded Tommy Robredo were a pair of opening-round winners Monday at the $4 million Monte Carlo Masters tennis event.
The gritty Italian Fognini overcame Portuguese Joao Sousa 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, while the former top-10 star Robredo, of Spain, handled Belgian qualifier David Goffin 6-4, 6-1 on the red clay at the beautiful Monte Carlo Country Club.
Meanwhile, Czech Radek Stepanek drilled 6-foot-10 Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 6-2, rising Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut whipped Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-2, and Spain's Albert Montanes outlasted France's Benoit Paire 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Montanes is rewarded with a second-round match against reigning champion Novak Djokovic, while Stepanek will face three-time Monte Carlo runner-up Roger Federer in the round of 32.
Also on Day 1 at the first clay court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year, German Philipp Kohlschreiber drubbed Italian wild card Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4; Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos doused Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 7-5; Czech Lukas Rosol erased Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy 7-5, 6-1; and Spaniard Pablo Andujar came back to best Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).
In addition to 12 first-round matches on Tuesday, the second round will commence with four matches, including one between Djokovic and Montanes. Also slated for second-round affairs are fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych, sixth-seeded 2013 French Open runner-up David Ferrer and ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who will meet Kohlschreiber. Ferrer was the Monte Carlo runner--up in 2011.
The former top-ranked star Djokovic beat current world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in last year's marquee final, putting an end to Nadal's record eight-year reign at this prestigious tournament.
Nadal and Djokovic, who's also a two-time runner-up here, are this week's top seeds. They currently hold all nine Masters 1000 titles between them, as well as the ATP World Tour Finals.
The 2014 Monte Carlo winner will collect $760,000.