Unconvincing Djokovic sees off Robert


Novak Djokovic recovered from a second-set wobble to beat qualifier Stephane Robert in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia on Wednesday.

The world number one failed to match his usual high standards, but overcame the unfancied Frenchman 7-5 7-5 as he targets a sixth title of the year in Rome.

Top seed Djokovic, eyeing a third successive title in this clay-court event and a fifth in total, by no means had all things his own way against the world number 103 and fought back from 4-2 in the second set to advance.

The 11-time grand-slam champion managed only 16 winners in a casual display at Foro Italico, but got the job done in an hour and 26 minutes to set up a third-round match against Thomaz Bellucci.

Robert, who was playing Djokovic for the first time, came up with some brilliant winners, but also made 32 unforced errors and bowed out as Djokovic made an unconvincing start as he aims to build up a head of steam before the French Open.

A confident Robert had the first opportunity to get his nose in front when he earned a break point in the third game, but Djokovic kept the 35-year-old at bay.

The Serb looked to be playing within himself, but raised his game to claim the only break of the first set when Robert netted a backhand after Djokovic went on the attack.

Robert put that setback behind him and deservedly took the upper hand in the second set, unwinding a rasping backhand to go a break up at 2-1 and the outsider was clearly enjoying himself with the backing of a big crowd.

Djokovic got back into his stride, though, and Robert was unable to pull off an unlikely upset as the favourite secured yet another victory.