Djokovic off to blistering start in Monte Carlo

Novak Djokovic

Former World No 1 Novak Djokovic showed shades of old as he dismissed fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.

In his first match since splitting from coach Andre Agassi and reconnecting with former long-time coach Marian Vajda, Djokovic looked in top form as he dispatched Lajovic 6-0, 6-1 in just 58 minutes.

It’s been a rough old time for Djokovic since he returned to the game following an elbow injury, but it’s clear he still has some Monte Carlo magic up his sleeve. The 12-time Grand Slam champion broke serve five times in all, and saved all four break points against him.

“I train on this court, so I feel at home,” said Djokovic, who lives in Monaco.

“I’ve had a very difficult time in the last 12 months with the injury and everything else that’s happened.

“I’m very happy as he (Vajda) is more than a coach. He’s more like a brother, a father. The reality is I’ve played six or seven matches since July. I’m lacking matches and a bit of confidence on court. But I’m looking ahead.”

The victory marks Djokovic’s first win at a regular ATP Tour event this season, after losing his opening matches in Indian Wells and Miami to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire respectively.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Kei Nishikori also advanced to the second round after coming from a set down to defeat Czech 12th seed Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

It was certainly a tough test for Nishikori first up, who is now ranked 36th in the world after missing a large part of last season with a right wrist injury and started his 2018 season on the Challenge Tour.

Nishikori looked close to his best against Berdych, although he did need to call for a medical timeout for his troublesome wrist at one point during the match.

“It’s not great but, I mean, first match on clay, you know, I’m expecting (a) little soreness,” Nishikori said.

“Hope I can put more matches on clay. I always enjoy this Europe season. Yeah, hope I can have good preparation these couple tournaments, and hope I can finish great in French (Open).”

Another former Grand Slam finalist, Milos Raonic, also had to fight back from a set down before beating wildcard Lucas Catarina 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.