Top seed Novak Djokovic began his title bid in Rome with a straight-sets win over Albert Montanes on Tuesday.
The Serbian eased to a 6-2, 6-3 victory against his Spanish opponent, ranked 89th in the world, to reach the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Nole delighted his fans on Centrale with some brilliant shotmaking. After a slow start, he rallied from an early break down to take the first set 6-2 in 38 minutes.
Djokovic raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set. He brought up three match points in the ninth game, but only one was needed, as the world no.1 secured the win with an ace.
“This win means a lot to me because I didn’t have a great week in Madrid. I didn’t play much, I didn’t practise much,” said Novak. “I worked very hard to prepare for this tournament. I need to be emotionally and physically fit and I think I’m heading in the right direction.”
Match statistics: aces (4-1), double faults (0-4), winners (20-14), unforced errors (22-25), total points won (66-42).
Novak will next play against world no.23 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine (2-0) who got a walkover after no.15 seed Stanislas Wawrinka withdrew from the event.
The 25-year-old Belgrade native has enjoyed success at the Foro Italico in past years, winning a pair of titles in 2008 and 2011.
Novak has a 27-3 match record this year (7-1 on clay) with titles at the Australian Open, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis championships and the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
He has now spent 81 weeks at no.1, which is ninth-most (since Aug. 23, 1973), behind Federer, Sampras, Lendl, Connors, J. McEnroe, Borg, Nadal and Agassi.
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