Former world number one Novak Djokovic got back to winning ways with a 6-1 6-3 win over Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round of the Italian Open in Rome.
Djokovic, a four-time winner of the event, has slumped to number 18 in the world rankings after last week’s defeat to Kyle Edmund in Madrid, as he continues to struggle after his return from an elbow injury.
But the 30-year-old showed signs of recovery in the way he dominated against Dolgopolov, breaking four times and only facing one break point on his own serve as he wrapped up the match in just 56 minutes.
Djokovic told atptour.com: “The last three or four weeks have been better on the practice courts and in matches.
“Today’s match encourages me to move forward and hopefully I can get a few more matches in Rome than I have in the last couple of months.”
Edmund, who is now just one place behind Djokovic in the world rankings, survived a minor scare to defeat Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Ninth seed David Goffin, who also fell to Edmund in Madrid, returned to form by sweeping aside Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-1 6-2, while 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta beat Jared Donaldson 6-4 3-6 6-0.
Local wild cards Marco Cecchinato and Matteo Berrettini both claimed popular victories while other winners included Kei Nishikori, Robin Haase and Fabio Fognini, who dumped out Gael Monfils 6-3 6-1.