The Top-ranked tennis star struggled with first set but got back to win eventually
Novak Djokovic opens clay-court season with tough Monte Carlo win against qualifer Ivan Gakhov on Tuesday.
35-year-old Djokovic saved three of the four break points he faced as he struggled through the first set.
It took time for Nole to find his marks and started to play more aggressively in the second set, before crushing to reach the third round.
Two-time Monte Carlo champion Djokovic looked a bit rusty as he started the clay-court season but he in fact, had not played since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the Dubai Championships semifinals more than a moth ago.
The winner himself also admitted that his first ATP Masters 1000 outing of the year wasn’t all smooth sailing as he is seeking a third crown in the Principality.
Nole’s reaction to the win
“I have not played my best, particularly in the first set,” said Djokovic.
“All in all, I’m just pleased with the way I held my nerves in important moments.”
“Match play is what I need,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.
“Practice points is something that helps, but nothing helps as [much as] playing an official match. So that’s why I’m hoping I can have as many matches as possible this week.
“I’m really glad I overcame the first step, because I hope things will be better and easier from this point onwards.”
Next up for Djokovic
The Serbian star will set to face either Lorenzo Musetti or Luca Nardi in the next round.
Nadal and second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz pulled out of the tournament last week.