In his first professional game in more than a month, world number one Novak Djokovic defeated qualifier Ivan Gakhov to reach the Monte Carlo Masters third round.
Djokovic defeated the Russian 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after receiving a win in the first round. He hadn’t competed since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on March 3.
Due to his lack of Covid-19 immunisation, the Serb was denied entry into the United States for the Miami Open and Indian Wells Masters.
In the round of 16, Djokovic, a 22-time Grand Slam victor, will play either Italian qualifier Luca Nardi or 16th seed Lorenzo Musetti.
The two-time Monte Carlo champion said, “It was arguably an ugly tennis win today. I haven’t played my best, especially in the first set, but given the windy circumstances today, I kind of expected it to happen. Overall, I am happy with how I maintained my composure during key situations.” Djokovic’s loss to Medvedev in Dubai is still his sole loss so far in 2023.
However, Dan Evans and Jack Draper’s elimination put a stop to British viewers’ interest in the Monte Carlo tournament. British No. 2 Evans lost to Belarusian Ilya Ivashka in the first round 2-6 6-2 6-3, while Draper lost to Polish No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz in the second round 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 7-5.
In the second round, Ivashka will take on his brother-in-law, Russian ninth seed Karen Khachanov, while Hurkacz will play either Diego Schwartzman of Argentina or Italian seventh seed Jannik Sinner in the round of 16.