Rome: Novak Djokovic’s bid to retain his World No. 1 status enjoyed a solid start on Tuesday at the Italian Open 2022 in Rome.
The five-time champion brushed past Aslan Karatsev, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
The top seed must reach the semi-finals to prevent Daniil Medvedev from taking his spot at the top of the ATP Rankings on Monday, and the Serbian’s all-round performance against Karatsev represented an impressive start to that mission.
Djokovic’s return game was at its relentless best as he broke the World No. 35’s serve four times on his way to a comfortable win on centre court.
Later, Felix Auger-Aliassime had his back against it literally and figuratively, but the Canadian star found a way to win.
The eighth seed rallied past in-form Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 after three hours and two minutes to reach the third round in Rome.
Another Canadian, 13th seed Denis Shapovalov, defeated Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 7-6(5). The lefty will challenge third seed Rafael Nadal or big-serving American John Isner for a place in the quarter-finals.
Shapovalov only faced one break point against 2021 Indian Wells finalist Basilashvili and he saved it. The 23-year-old won 85 per cent of his first-serve points in his one-hour, 40-minute victory.