Tennis

Unconvincing start for Djokovic

Novak Djokovic's clay season got off to a sluggish start yesterday morning (Singapore time) at the Monte Carlo Masters as the world No. 2 struggled past Gilles Simon 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

The Serb, who has suffered a disjointed year with poor form and injury, spent around two-and-a-half hours toiling to get through.

He was broken at 4-4 in the final set but then reeled off three straight games to snatch victory in the second-round encounter.

"It was a very difficult match, with many changes of momentum," the second seed, who won in Monte Carlo in 2013 and 2015, said.

"It was very tiring for me, the first clay of the season.

"But this is the start of the Roland Garros build-up."

Djokovic, who has won only one tournament this season - the Qatar Open at the start of January - twice recovered in the third set from breaks down. He finally prevailed against Simon, ranked 32nd in the world, when the Frenchman fired long on a return.

Djokovic last played on the ATP Tour more than a month ago - though he did emerge to lead a Serbian Davis Cup win this month - and sat out the Miami Masters last month with an elbow injury.

Meanwhile, qualifier Adrian Mannarino stunned fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, eliminating the seventh seed 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-3 as new father Tsonga played for the first time in more than a month.

"You can always do things a bit better. But I think it was a good match, generally speaking," Tsonga said.

"Now I'm going to practise again. I'll try to come back and be better next time.

"I needed to win more points and be better with my serve, I got broken often today. I'm not used to being broken that much." - AFP

YESTERDAY'S RESULTS (SELECTED)

  • Andy Murray (x1) bt Gilles Muller 7-5, 7-5
  • Stan Wawrinka (x3) bt Jiri Vesely 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
  • Dominic Thiem (x6) bt Robin Haase 6-3, 6-2
  • lTomas Berdych (x9) bt Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
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