After a disappointing March at Indian Wells and Miami, Novak Djokovic let go of star-studded coaching team in favor of his old confidant Marian Vajda. And so far so good after Djokovic destroyed his hapless countryman Duas Lajovic 6-0, 6-1 in the first round today at Monte Carlo.
“I thought it was good considering the amount of matches I’ve played in the last almost 12 months,” said Djokovic who resides in Monte Carlo. “I thought all in all, it was a great start of the tournament.”
More importantly, Djokovic says the elbow issues are behind him.
“After two years finally I can play without pain,” Djokovic said.
“The intervention was done right, and I came back already after five weeks on the court from the moment I had the surgery. That’s amazing,” Djokovic added. “I still obviously wasn’t ready game-wise, physically. So Indian Wells and Miami were really kind of a struggle on the court for me mentally. I know that I can play much better than that, but I couldn’t. I just wasn’t ready.”
He also is happy to be back with Vajda.
“It’s a fresh start I think for both of us. I missed him,” Djokovic said, before cracking a smile. “I have a feeling that he missed me or tennis or both.
We both enjoyed a lot the past 10 days of practice we had. He knows me better than any tennis coach I’ve worked with. He’s a friend. He’s someone I can share a lot of things with, whether it’s professional or private life. He’s always there for me,” Djokovic said. “He knows me inside-out. He knows what I need in order to get to the highest possible level of play. We could not ask for a better start.”
Djokovic could meet 10-time champ Rafael Nadal in the third round, but before then it’s the improving Borna Coric who rolled past Julien Benneteau 6-2, 6-3.
Kei Nishikori continued his comeback from injury dismissing Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
“It’s actually great to come back this tournament,” said Nishikori. “I haven’t got a lot of matches this year. I hope I can play more matches on clay. I always enjoy this Europe season.
“I feel like Tomas was struggling little bit in second, and third too. Nobody’s expecting I think 100% in the first couple of matches.”
Milos Raonic and Roberto Bautista Agut were also winners. 2017 finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas ousted a testy Jared Donaldson, Stefanos Tsitipas upended Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 and Andrey Rublev beat Robin Haase to set up a showdown tomorrow against Dominic Thiem.
TUESDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT RAINIER III Starts At 11:00 Am
2nd Rd Andrey Rublev VS 5 Dominic Thiem
2nd Rd 7 Lucas Pouille VS Mischa Zverev
2nd Rd 4 Grigor Dimitrov VS (Q) Pierre Hugues Herbert
2nd Rd Gilles Muller VS 3 Alexander Zverev
COURT DES PRINCES Starts At 11:00 Am
1st Rd (WC) Gilles Simon VS 16 Adrian Mannarino
1st Rd 13 Fabio Fognini VS (Q) Ilya Ivashka
1st Rd (Q) Jeremy Chardy VS Richard Gasquet
2nd Rd (Q) Stefanos Tsitsipas VS 6 David Goffin
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