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
READ MORE: What sparked Andrey Rublev’s Monte Carlo comeback?
French Open day 1: Marta Kostyuk feels ire of crowd, Ons Jabeur has options, British hopes dashed
The story of the first day of action from Roland Garros.
What Andy Murray needs to do to secure a seeding at Wimbledon
Andy Murray is currently 43rd in the ATP rankings and needs to get into the top 32 to secure a seeding for Wimbledon.
Where will Rafael Nadal be ranked when he returns to the court?
Nadal will be ranked in the mid-130s on the ATP list at the start of June.
Mats Wilander says Aryna Sabalenka has ‘no weaknesses’ after French Open win
“She has no weaknesses in her game if she believes in herself.”
Marta Kostyuk on French Open booing: ‘People should be honestly embarrassed’
The Ukrainian has been the most outspoken critic of tennis’ reaction to the war in her home country.
Stefanos Tsitsipas pats himself on the back – ‘It was a great comeback from me’
Stefanos Tsitsipas saved three set points to avoid being taken to a decider.
Toni Nadal analyses favourites to win 2023 French Open
The legendary coach explains who he would put his money on to win the Paris major.
Dan Evans on French Open controversial foot-fault call: ‘Disruptive, wrong’
Evans also described his current form as “shocking” after French Open exit.
Casper Ruud expects Rafael Nadal to play French Open again but admits ‘end is near’
Casper Ruud thinks we will see Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros again.
Carlos Alcaraz on ‘dream’ of playing doubles with Rafael Nadal at Olympics
A Spanish doubles team of Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal at the Olympics could be special.