Novak Djokovic gets off to winning start in Italian Open

Novak Djokovic gets off to winning start in Italian Open”

12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic rebounded from a second round defeat at last week's Madrid Masters to cruise through his opener at the Internazionali BNL D'Italia in Rome on Monday.

In the rankings released on Monday, Djokovic fell to No. 18, his lowest standing since 2006 when he was still a rising pro.

Djokovic, who last won in Rome in 2015, next plays either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Filippo Baldi two qualifiers before a potential third round meeting with American eighth seed John Isner.

"It wasn't an easy match".

"Rome has always been a place where I felt good, where I received a lot of support, where I played well, and had a lot of great results", said Djokovic.

And the 30-year-old said his focus was on the French Open where he won his last Grand Slam title in 2016. "That's the big goal for this part of the season", added Djokovic.

"But, I'm getting there".

"I would like to go all the way but at the same time, looking at my results, I have to be a little bit more modest with expectations".

"As weird as it sounds for me as well, knowing that I haven't had a major title in a while, and haven't played good tennis in a while, I'm still glad that I'm going through this process because it allows me to get to know myself on a deeper level and address certain things that you usually don't address when anything goes well", explained the No. 11 seed. "After that I was more confident".

Japan's Kei Nishikori, who like Djokovic is making his way back from injury, also got off to a solid start, striking 18 winners en route to beating Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5) 6-4. The pair exchanged serves in the second set before 2016 semifinalist Nishikori broke and served out to love to book into the second round against third seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

Having already announced that this would be her final tournament, the 35-year-old Vinci was beaten by Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.

There was no respite for Dolgopolov, Djokovic producing a barrage of powerful groundstrokes as he secured another two breaks and lost just three points on serve to take the opening set in only 20 minutes.

In the women's event, Japan's Naomi Osaka beat former world No1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-0 6-3 to set up a meeting with top seed Simona Halep of Romania.

David Goffin, seeded ninth, made short shrift of the challenge from Leonardo Mayer as the Belgian raced to a 6-1 6-2 against the Argentinean and will next face Marco Cecchinato, after the Italian wildcard recorded a three-set comeback victory against Pablo Cuevas.

American Madison Keys, seeded 13th, beat Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1, with Britain's Johanna Konta easing past Slovak 17th-seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3.

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