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
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