Djokovic Finds His Feet On Rome Clay

Iran News - - WORLD NEWS -

ROME (Dis­patches) - For­mer world num­ber one No­vak Djokovic said Mon­day he felt re­as­sured to be back play­ing on the fa­mil­iar red clay of Rome as he dis­patched Alexandr Dol­go­polov in straight sets in the first round.

The 12-time Grand Slam cham­pion, who won the last of his 68 ATP ti­tles at the Cana­dian Open in 2016, has slipped to 18th in the world, his low­est rank­ing in 12 years as he strug­gles with a night­mare el­bow in­jury.

But he got off to a com­fort­able start in his bid for a fifth ATP Ital­ian Open ti­tle at the Foro Ital­ico, tak­ing 55 min­utes to oust Ukrainian Dol­go­polov in the first round.

“Rome has al­ways been a place where I felt good, where I re­ceived a lot of sup­port, where I played well, and had a lot of great re­sults,” said Djokovic. “And to­day’s match en­cour­ages me and gives me rea­son to be­lieve that it can be a good week for me. “Ob­vi­ously I would like to go all the way but, at the same time, look­ing at my re­sults I have to be a lit­tle more mod­est with ex­pec­ta­tions and see where it takes me.”

The 11th-seeded Serb has reached eight of the last ten fi­nals in Rome, in­clud­ing the past two years, and won four ti­tles -- most re­cently in 2015.

Djokovic broke 54th-ranked Dol­go­polov three times in the open­ing set, with an­other break in the sec­ond help­ing him wrap up the match. He next plays either Nikoloz Basi­lashvili or Filippo Baldi, both qual­i­fiers, be­fore a po­ten­tial third round meet­ing with U.S. eighth seed John Is­ner.

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