No twist in the tale

SportsJuan Martin Del Potro was stretched in his 1-6 6-4 6-3 win over Alexandr Dolgolopolov. AP

Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal extended his Monte Carlo Masters winning streak to 43 matches, and top-ranked Novak Djokovic was relieved his right ankle held firm despite hurting it again as both reached the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

Nadal beat Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-2, but Djokovic spent twice as long on court against Mikhail Youzhny before beating the Russian 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 2 hours, 15 minutes.

"Today was a big test. My ankle survived, I'm in the next round. That's what matters," Djokovic said. "I know that my game is still not there, obviously, and I have a lot of ups and downs through the match. Physically also, I think I've put double the effort than I do usually because, you know, I still don't feel comfortable," he said.

Djokovic twisted his ankle while playing for Serbia in the Davis Cup on April 7, and was not sure if he would be able to play in Monte Carlo, where he lost in the final last year to Nadal. He looked a bit tentative in the first set but did not appear to be impeded in his movement.

He twisted it again during the second set and was hindered for about 15 minutes before the pain wore off. "You know, protection, the tape, was good. So I managed to overcome that pain and go through the match," said Djokovic, who next faces 14th-seeded Juan Monaco.

"I think that my ankle is (getting better) as the days are passing by. Obviously I will have to play a match every day (during the tournament)," he said.

His relief was evident as he lent backward and lifted both hands in the air after clinching victory on his first match point.

"I'm just happy to compete, to be honest. I didn't know if I'm going to be playing the tournament up to yesterday, basically," Djokovic said. "For me it's important not to have a bigger risk of injuring myself. I enjoy this tournament very much. As I said before, if it was not Monaco I would consider not playing.''

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