Novak Djokovic eased many of his fans’ worries on Monday with a dominant display against fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic to reach the Monte Carlo Masters second round, dropping just one game in his 56-minute rout.
It was the first time Djokovic competed in a first round in Monte Carlo, without the benefit of having a bye, since he faced Roger Federer as an 18-year-old back in 2006 in his opening match there.
But judging from his straight-sets beatdown of Lajovic on Monday, Djokovic’s opener at the Monte Carlo Country Club was more of a bye and less of a contest.
The two-time Monte Carlo champion lives just down the road from the tournament venue and looked at home in his clash with his compatriot.
Here are the main takeaways from Djokovic’s victory…
A HAPPY HOUR
While Lajovic didn’t put up much of a fight – barring that final game of the match – Djokovic can certainly draw lots of confidence and positives from his opening match in Monaco, which was just his fourth victory of the season, and first since January.
Carrying a three-match losing streak into the tournament, Djokovic looked much better on court than he did in his opening round defeats in Indian Wells and Miami last month. He was hitting much cleaner, playing with a purpose instead of the confused and lost demeanour he had in the California desert four weeks ago, and delivered solid execution.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion did not face a break point in the first set, and saved all four Lajovic created in the second.
Djokovic’s footwork was on point, sliding all over the red clay of the Principality, and seamlessly switching from defence to offence. When he ventured to the net, he won all eight points up front, and changed the direction of the ball on demand, in ways only he can.
Djokovic fired 19 winners against 16 unforced errors. His backhand was responsible for nine winners and he managed three service winners – a decent sign for someone who had elbow surgery in February.
Oh hello there. 👋
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 16, 2018
The 30-year-old landed 62 per cent of his first serves in, won 82 per cent of the points on his first serve and 53 per cent of the points on his second.
Djokovic had the support of a full box courtside that included his former coach Marian Vajda, who is accompanying the Serb in Monte Carlo this week, with no commitment to future plans together as of yet. Djokovic spent 11 years working with Vajda and their reunion is already paying dividends.
NEXT STEP WON’T BE EASY
Djokovic will face far tougher opposition in the next round as he takes on in-form 21-year-old Borna Coric, who is enjoying a career-best season so far, with a semi-final showing in Indian Wells and a quarter-final appearance in Miami. Initially regarded as a mini Djokovic, Coric showed up on tour with a game that is very similar to the Serb’s, and he also shared his work ethic.
Coric is 15-6 this season, while Djokovic is a meager 4-3. The young Croat claimed his first Monte Carlo win on Monday 6-2, 6-3 over Julien Benneteau.
Djokovic is 1-0 head-to-head against Coric, with their sole meeting coming on clay in Madrid in 2016.
Clay season starting in Monte Carlo. Its good to be back on red clay in Europe. Are you ready? 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/EeR6xcFAMN
— borna coric (@borna_coric) April 16, 2018
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