Novak Djokovic’s return to form gathers pace as he slides past Gael Monfils at the Madrid Open

Novak Djokovic plays a shot

Novak Djokovic took his head-to-head record against Gael Monfils to 18-0 as he brushed aside the Frenchman at the Madrid Open and the tennis he produced suggests he is close to regaining his best form.

After playing only two games during the first couple of months of the year due to his unvaccinated status, world No 1 Djokovic made a stuttering start to the clay-court season as he lost his opener at the Monte Carlo Masters.

However, there were glimpses of the old Djokovic at the Serbia Open a fortnight ago as he made it to the final before finishing runner-up to Andrey Rublev.

And the 20-time Grand Slam winner took another step in the right direction in the second round in Madrid on Tuesday with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win over Monfils in one hour and 27 minutes.

Djokovic broke in game six of the first set and games three and eight of the second set while he saved all five break points that he faced.

The win also means his 18-0 H2H against Monfils is a new ATP Tour record as he moved ahead of Rafael Nadal (vs Richard Gasquet), Roger Federer (vs Mikhail Youzhny), Federer (vs David Ferrer), Ivan Lendl (vs Tim Mayotte) and Boris Becker (vs Vitas Gerulaitis) who are all on 17 wins over the same opponent.

The Serbian will face either Denis Shapovalov or Andy Murray in the third round while the win over Monfils ensures he will remain at No 1 for a record-extending 369 weeks when the ATP Rankings are updated again on Monday May 9.