No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic reaches third round in Monte Carlo

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia held off 198th-ranked Ivan Gakhov of Russia 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Tuesday to move into the third round of the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters in Monaco.

Playing in his first match since losing to Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the Dubai semifinals on March 3, Djokovic fell behind love-30 while serving at 5-5 in the opening set before escaping trouble.

“It was probably, if you can call it this way, an ugly tennis win for me today,” Djokovic said. “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.”

Djokovic saved three of four break points and finished with 19 winners and 13 unforced errors, compared to 22 winners and 21 errors by Gakhov.

“It’s different practicing and then playing an official match on clay, (where) I guess no two bounces are the same,” Djokovic said. “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.”

A two-time winner in Monte Carlo (2013, 2015), Djokovic is seeking his record-extending 39th ATP Masters 1000 tournament title. Up next is either No. 16 seed Lorenzo Musetti or fellow Italian Luca Nardi.

No. 2 seed and two-time defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece was up 4-1 in the opening set against Benjamin Bonzi when the Frenchman was forced to retire with a wrist injury.

“A great start out there. A 3-0 lead, I will always take it,” Tsitsipas said. “Happy to be back (in) Monte Carlo. It’s a very unique location during the year and I’m happy this is the time of the year we get to play on these courts. It brings back very good memories.

“It’s very unfortunate what happened out there for my opponent. I wish him the best moving forward.”

Tsitsipas will face the winner of a second-round match between Chile’s Nicolas Jarry and Australia’s Alexei Popyrin.

In other second-round action Tuesday involving seeded players, No. 5 Andrey Rublev of Russia rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win against Spain’s Jaume Munar and No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland held off Britain’s Jack Draper 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-5.

–Field Level Media

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