Solid start for Djokovic in Rome

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic got off to an encouraging start at the Italian Open on Monday, brushing aside Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round.

Djokovic, a four-time champion in Rome, needed just 55 minutes to beat Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-3 on the red clay of the Foro Italico.

Following his second-round loss in Madrid last week, Djokovic has dropped to 18th in the world, his lowest ranking in nearly 12 years.

But against Dolgopolov, at least, he looked like the 12-time Grand Slam champion of old, breaking three times in the first set and once more in the second to wrap up the routine win.

Djokovic moves on to face the winner of the match between Nikoloz Basilashvili and Filippo Baldi.

Also in action in Monday was Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who faced a tougher challenge in Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, but managed to prevail in straight sets, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

“It wasn’t easy match. It was windy so conditions were tough for both of us,” said Nishikori after the match.

“The first set could have gone both ways, luckily I got it and after that, I was more confident and I was playing better tennis.”

Other first-round winners included David Goffin, Pablo Carreno-Busta and Phillip Kohlscreiber.