Novak Djokovic made an emphatic return to professional tennis after all the struggles with his health and form, following a series of elbow injuries which had sidelined him for the previous months. Starting his highly-anticipated clay-court season at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, the Serbian received a tough draw but his first performance hinted at some sort of authority he was trying to put across, demolishing his countryman and qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-0, 6-1 in just a mere 56 minutes.
The Serbian’s last tournament was the BNP Paribas Open where he was stunned by an inspired Taro Daniel in three sets, while Lajovic was on an eight-match winning streak having won a Challenger title towards the end of March.
It was an interesting contest especially when this was Djokovic’s first match back from recovery, and it would be a good gauge to see his current form with top players looming the draw. The former world number one and current world number 13 will now face the in-form and talented youngster Borna Coric in the second round, with it shaping up to be a thrilling contest.
Djokovic whitewashes an underperforming opponent
The 12-time Grand Slam champion made the perfect start anybody would have wanted, with his forehands and net play reaching its peak, and Djokovic soon earned a comfortable service hold in the opening game.
Looking powerless in his shots, Lajovic was forced to move all around the court by his stronger opponent, who was dictating play throughout the majority of the match. An unfortunate backhand error by the qualifier allowed Djokovic to draw first blood, breaking serve within a blink of an eye.
The lengthy rallies were working really well for Djokovic as he was simply firing on all cylinders, leaving no mercy for his opponent as he was having it easy in his service games, powering to a formidable 3-0 lead after just 10 minutes.
Lajovic finally had a look to get on board, but Djokovic’s forehand fortress came into action once more; saving game point with yet another winner and ultimately prevailing in the lengthy game to grab the double-break lead.
Losing just his third and final point on serve, Djokovic easily consolidated the break for a 5-0 lead with Lajovic facing the pressure to serve and stay in the set afterward. Dealing with the tremendous amount of pressure to provide a tough fight, the world number 93 failed to find his groove and was eventually handed a bagel with an unbelievable return winner by Djokovic after 22 minutes of play.
Djokovic overcomes slight wobble, earns the impressive victory
Staying solid at the baseline, Lajovic finally earned himself a game after what seemed like an eternity. It proved to be a huge momentum shift especially when the lower-ranked Serbian came out of nowhere to grab a break point in the following game. Yet another forehand winner saved Djokovic from the brink, and Lajovic was unable to maintain his high level of play as he soon lost his serve on the fourth occasion in the match.
Djokovic started to face troubles on his serve but incredible on-court coverage and footwork saw the Serbian save a break point with an impressive volley winner, tightly holding onto his huge lead. Things started going all wrong for Lajovic on his serve, with Djokovic, known as one of the best returners on tour, sending in some ruthless winners which left his opponent helpless.
The match was completed within just 56 minutes, as the world number 13 and 12-time Major champion fending off the fourth break point in the set, grabbing the excellent win losing just one game in the process.