Djokovic eases into third round at Monte Carlo Masters
MONACO (AP) — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic strolled into the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters with a 6-1, 6-4 win over qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Tuesday.
In a match that sometimes resembled a practice session, Djokovic never looked troubled, although he dropped his serve once in the middle of the opening set.
The win over the Spanish clay-court specialist extended Djokovic's winning streak to 13 matches following back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami.
"I'm really pleased with my performance for my first match on clay against an experienced player on this surface," Djokovic said. "There was a good intensity."
The Serb is off to his best start since 2011 and hopes he can carry his hardcourt form into the clay season, which will climax at the French Open. Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam title missing from Djokovic's collection, but Rafael Nadal's current struggles might help him to fill the void this year.
The French Open starts on May 24.
Djokovic, who lives in Monaco, showed no problem adjusting to the dust and raced to a 4-0 lead in the opening set, perfectly reading Ramos-Vinolas' serve to break him twice.
A double-fault and two consecutive backhand mistakes in the next game, however, gave some hope to his opponent, who could not build on the momentum and dropped his serve immediately after he broke.
Also, Gael Monfils overcame a shaky start to rally past Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga joined the Frenchman in the second round in straight sets.
The 14th-seeded Monfils, who recently returned to the tour after a knee injury, struggled with his serve early before finding his range.
Monfils' display on the Country Club's center court was not as flashy as his green-and-yellow outfit. But despite the numerous unforced errors and the erratic tennis, the Frenchman was satisfied.
"I often struggled at this tournament. It's always a difficult period of the year for me, and I'm really happy I got through this one," Monfils said. "I've lost similar matches here before."
Monfils received a wild card from the organizers after deciding to play in the first clay-court Masters of the season at the last minute. He came back from a three-week absence in Miami, where he reached the fourth round but retired with a right hip problem.
"The early images were not so good, but I recovered sooner than expected," Monfils said. "And the training I did over the past couple of days certainly paid off."
Up a break in the opener, Monfils lost 12 of the last 14 points as Kuznetsov took control with a brilliant display at the net. But the Russian could not build on the momentum, dropping his serve twice in the second set.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Monfils hit two big serves to fend off break points and closed out the match.
Wild-card entry Lucas Pouille also advanced and will next face eight-time champion Rafael Nadal, while Juan Monaco will be up against defending champion Stan Wawrinka after defeating Jiri Vesely 6-4, 6-2.