ATP Monte Carlo: Novak Djokovic makes dominant start!


Novak Djokovic took down Roman Safiullin in the second round in style

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic kicked off his 17th Monte Carlo Masters campaign with a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 victory over Roman Safiullin in the second round after 70 minutes. Novak is seeking his first title of the season at his home event, although his expectations are not high.

There was nothing wrong with the two-time champion’s game today, playing well on serve and return in his 401st Masters 1000 match and making a notable return following a tough Indian Wells loss to Luca Nardi. Novak served great and dropped six points in seven service games, never facing a break point and keeping the pressure on the other side.

Roman stayed far below that level, playing against break points in every service game and losing serve five times from 19 chances offered to Novak.

The Serb fired 13 service winners and landed 16 winners and nine unforced errors.

He had a massive advantage in the shortest and more advanced rallies, taming his strokes nicely and sailing over the top. Both players struggled to find the first serve in the opening set, and no one could notice that in Novak’s games.

The Serb won all seven points behind the second serve, avoiding break points and keeping the pressure on the other side. Roman could not follow that pace, barely winning a point behind the second serve and getting broken three times from nine chances offered to world no.

1. Djokovic found his A-game right from the start, landing 11 winners and four unforced errors and leaving his opponent far behind. Roman sprayed a forehand error in the first game of the encounter, losing serve and confidence.

The Russian faced three break points in the third game, denying them with fine hitting before the Serb seized the fourth with a forced error, forging a 3-0 advantage. Safiullin sprayed a forehand mistake in the fourth game, falling further behind and struggling again behind the initial shot in the next one.

Roman erased three break points and landed a service winner on a game point, adding his name to the scoreboard after 27 minutes. Novak produced a hold at love in game six with a forehand winner and made another push on the return in the next one.

The Serb secured a break at love at 5-1, wrapping up the opener after 33 minutes and gaining a boost.

Novak Djokovic lost only three games against Roman Safiullin in Monte Carlo.

Djokovic landed an ace at the beginning of the second set, holding at love and rattling off 12 points.

World no. 1 created two break points in the second game after the rival’s forehand error, and Safiullin denied them to avoid an early setback. Roman closed the game with a service winner, leveling the score at 1-1 and repeating what he achieved in the opening set.

The Serb landed an unreturned serve in the third game for 2-1 and made a push on the return in the next one. Novak landed a forehand down the line winner in the fourth game, earning three break points and seizing the second after the rival’s double fault for a 3-1 advantage.

Djokovic cemented the break with a forehand winner in game five, extending the gap and sailing toward the finish line.

Safiullin served for the sixth time at 1-4 and faced break points like in every previous service game!

The Russian played against four, saving them and holding after the Serb’s loose forehand, reducing the deficit to 4-2 and remaining within one break deficit. Novak left those chances behind and provided another comfortable hold in game seven, moving 5-2 up with service winners and forcing his rival to serve to stay in the match.

Djokovic landed a forehand winner for two match points, and Safiullin saved the first with a backhand crosscourt winner. Novak seized the second after Roman’s forehand error, sealing the deal in style and moving into the third round.

Djokovic started the season as the world’s best player at 36. He suffered the United Cup loss to Alex de Minaur after dealing with an elbow injury. The defending champion came to the Australian Open as the favorite, but he did not play at his best, struggling in the opening two rounds after dealing with a minor virus.

Novak raised his level in rounds three and four before facing Taylor Fritz in the quarter-final. The Serb had to dig deep in this one, missing all 15 break chances in the opening two sets and keeping his rival in contention.

Novak finally broke Taylor’s resistance in sets three and four, delivering four breaks and moving into the semi-final. There, he suffered a heavy loss to Jannik Sinner in four sets, never earning a break point and losing serve five times to propel the young gun over the top and lose the crown.

Novak took a break in February and returned to the court in Indian Wells. He suffered another tough loss to a young gun from Italy, this time to Luca Nardi. Novak parted ways with Goran Ivanisevic, and Nenad Zimonjic works with him in the Principality.


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