Novak Djokovic secures ‘an ugly win’ on his return in Monte Carlo
World No 1 Novak Djokovic described his 7-6, 6-2 victory over World No 198 Ivan Gakhov as ‘an ugly tennis win’.
Djokovic was playing in his first match on the ATP Tour since his semi-final defeat to Daniil Medvedev in Dubai in February.
Despite his grim assessment of his own performance, Djokovic managed the contest well and secured his progression.
Djokovic put the rustiness down to the shifting sands of a clay court surface which produces irregular bounce.
“It was probably, if you can call it this way, an ugly tennis win for me today,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I haven’t played my best, particularly in the first set. And I kind of expected that that was going to happen in a way with swirly conditions, a lot of wind today, changing directions.
“It’s different practising and then playing an official match on clay, [where] I guess no two bounces are the same. It’s always quite unpredictable what’s going to happen. But all in all, I’m just pleased with the way I held my nerves I think in the important moments and I managed to clinch the two-set win.”
Djokovic admitted that he could have been better prepared to face the Russian who defeated Mackenzie McDonald of the United States to reach the second round.
The World No 1 enjoyed a bye through the first round but said that his extra practice time hasn’t really given him any edge because the practise courts have played differently to the main stadium court.
He gave his opponent credit and acknowledged that he has been playing very well.
“I never saw Ivan play before today to be honest. I’ve seen a little bit of his video from yesterday’s match and that’s all,” Djokovic said.
“That was not the best preparation, but he’s a young player coming up from the Challenger Tour and he just was on a roll.
“He knows how to play, no doubt about it. Big serve, forehand, flat backhand stepping in,” Djokovic added.
“So it was a very tricky opponent for today, but I’m glad I overcame the challenge.”
Djokovic will face the winner of the all-Italian clash between Lorenzo Musetti and Luca Nardi in the Round of 16.
Results from the ATP Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday
Luca Nardi (ITA) bt Valentin Vacherot (MON) 7-5, 7-5
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA x16) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 7-6 (7/1), 6-0
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 3-6, 7-5, 7-5
Alexander Zverev (GER x13) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
Karen Khachanov ( x9) bt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-2, 6-2
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) bt Ben Shelton (USA) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Jiri Lehecka (CZE) bt Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-1, 7-5
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Ivan Gakhov 7-6 (7/5), 6-2
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x2) bt Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 4-1 retired
Andrey Rublev ( x5) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
The 7 players to win ATP titles after saving a match point in 2023: Novak Djokovic, Hubert Hurkacz feature twice
Here is a look at the nine times players saved a match point en route to winning ATP titles in 2023.
Rafael Nadal backed to ‘find the rhythm’ as Roger Federer comeback comparison is made
A former ATP star is optimistic about Rafael Nadal’s comeback and used Roger Federer to illustrate his point.
Novak Djokovic has one big weakness – and here is why his opponents struggle to expose it on court
We look at why Djokovic has always struggled with his overheads at the net and what opponents could do to take advantage of that flaw.
Rising American star picks Novak Djokovic as his dream opponent ‘because he’s the GOAT’
An ATP up-and-comer would love to face Novak Djokovic as he thinks the Serbian is the GOAT.
Novak Djokovic hailed for helping young star in ‘wonderful act of kindness’ by former top pro
Novak Djokovic has been praised for his generosity by a top coach and former ATP star.
‘I still have faith in seeing Rafael Nadal win another Roland Garros title’, says former ATP star
Rafael Nadal has been backed to triumph at the French Open one last time by a former competitor.
The 13 youngest ATP Tour title winners in 2023: Carlos Alcaraz 2nd, Holger Rune 3rd
The “new Big Three” of Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune are on the youngest champions in 2023 list.
Cameron Norrie exclusive on his biggest lesson from 2023 and why he believes he can become world No 1
Lexus ambassador Cameron Norrie looks back on a year that has highs and lows for a player who has ambitions to reach the very top.
Emma Raducanu’s special ranking won’t give her entry into Australian Open main draw so what next?
Emma Raducanu’s special ranking is not good enough for entry into the main draw of the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic’s iconic racket is sold at auction and the price exceeds all expectations
The racket has been put up for sale on the SCP auction site, with an expectation that it would sell for a fee in excess of $50,000.