(Reuters) – Seeded players Felix Auger-Aliassime and Karen Khachanov were the major casualties in the first round of the Italian Open in Rome on Monday as players turned their attention from the hardcourts to the clay swing in Europe.
Auger-Aliassime, who fell in straight sets to eventual champion Dominic Thiem in the fourth round of the U.S. Open last week, lost 6-4 7-5 to Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic while 11th seed Khachanov was beaten 6-3 3-6 6-1 by Norwegian Casper Ruud.
Frenchman Benoit Paire, who tested positive for COVID-19 and was withdrawn from the U.S. Open before his first round match, was knocked out 6-2 6-1 by Italian Jannik Sinner.
Sinner saved all four break points he faced while breaking Paire four times to beat the world number 24 who had beaten him earlier this year in Auckland.
Grigor Dmitrov beat Gianluca Mager 7-5 6-1 to move into the second round while Marin Cilic was pushed the distance in a 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 victory over Alexander Bublik to book his spot in the next round where he will face sixth seed David Goffin.
In the women’s draw, Belgian 11th seed Elise Mertens moved into the second round with a straightforward 6-3 6-1 victory over Hsieh Su-wei while 21-year-old Elena Rybakina beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-0 6-4 in just 61 minutes.
Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska overcame home favourite Camila Giorgi 7-5 6-7(5) 6-4 in a match where both players struggled with their first serve, with 28 double faults recorded in the contest.
Donna Vekic, the 16th seed, was ousted by Amanda Anisimova after losing two tiebreaks in a match where both players were broken five times, with the American eventually coming away with a 7-6(4) 7-6(6) win.
Top seeds such as Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the men’s draw and Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin in the women’s field received byes into the second round.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)