Big confidence booster for Novak Djokovic as he beats Kei Nishikori

Novak Djokovic returned to winning ways as he beat Kei Nishikori at the Madrid Open.

Having suffered early exits at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Djokovic admitted that his confidence has been dealt a blow, but he vowed to “knucle down”.

And knuckle down he did as he defeated former US Open runner-up Nishikori 7-5, 6-4 in the Spanish capital on Monday afternoon.

It was Nishikori who had the early advantage as he broke to love in in game five, but Djokovic hit back immediately and then broke again in game 13 to take the opening set.

Nishikori fashioned another break point in the first game of the second set, but couldn’t pull it off and the 10th seed then broke in the 10th game to take the match.

The Serb will face either Daniil Medvedev or Kyle Edmund in the second round.

Thirteenth seed Diego Schwatzman also booked his place in the next round as he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-3 while former Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic claimed a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory over Nicolas Kicker.

However, 15th seed Lucas Pouille is out as he went down 6-2, 6-3 to fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire while rising star Karen Khachanov suffered a 6-3, 6-2 defeat at the hands of Dusan Lajovic.