Classy Djokovic schools Dolgopolov in Rome
Novak Djokovic breezed into the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia with a straight-sets demolition of Alexandr Dolgopolov.
The former world number one said he was encouraged with his progress despite suffering a second-round defeat to Kyle Edmund at the Madrid Open last week following a shock loss to Martin Klizan in Barcelona.
Djokovic, who beat Kei Nishikori in the opening round in the Spanish capital, certainly looked much more like his former self in Rome on Monday, schooling Dolgopolov to win 6-1 6-3 in just 55 minutes.
The Serb returned superbly and served with great authority to set up a second-round meeting with Nikoloz Basilashvili or Filippo Baldi as he eyes a fifth title at the Foro Italico.
Djokovic put the Ukrainian, ranked 54th in the world, under immediate pressure, going on the attack to break to love in the first game of the match on Court Centrale.
There was no respite for Dolgopolov, Djokovic producing a barrage of powerful groundstrokes as he secured another two breaks and lost just three points on serve to take the opening set in only 20 minutes.
Djokovic kept the points short and sharp, mixing up his approach expertly and showing no signs of being troubled by his elbow as he broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set with a cross-court winner following another thunderous return.
He stretched his lead to 4-1 with a hold to love after drilling a majestic backhand winner down the line and wrapped up an emphatic sixth win out of six against a startled Dolgopolov with a classy backhand winner.