World number one Novak Djokovic comfortably breezed past Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-1 6-4 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters. The top seed, who did not play at Monte Carlo last year, came into the match boasting a 6-0 head-to-head record over Seppi and further extended that run with a performance of complete control. Djokovic, a local resident, has now compiled a sparkling 21-2 record so far in 2012, defending his Australian Open and Miami titles and falling in the semi-finals of his title defences at Dubai and Indian Wells.
The Serb’s convincing start to his clay-court campaign will inevitably be tempered with the knowledge that the seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal remains the man to beat on the red clay of Monte Carlo.
A gruelling second game eventually went Djokovic’s way after an extended deuce as he made his persistent pressure count with an immediate break of serve. Seppi was not allowed to settle into the match at all, and the Italian found himself increasingly under the cosh as Djokovic broke for a second time – and in more convincing fashion – to establish a commanding lead.
The Serb was forced to endure a barrage of pressure from his opponent before he was finally able to hold for 5-0 after an extended deuce, and the following game was a near replica as Seppi belatedly got on the board with a gutsy hold.
Djokovic closed out the set for the loss of just a solitary game with the utmost efficiency, but was unable to stamp his authority on the second set from the outset as Seppi held serve under immense pressure.
The top seed did not have to wait long to establish the advantage once more: Seppi wavered on his serve at the crucial point in the third game of the set and Djokovic ruthlessly capitalised with an opportunist break.
Seppi earned a huge ovation from the Monaco crowd after a blistering forehand winner saw him reduce the deficit at 3-2 with a determined hold, and again at 4-3 as Djokovic marched on in unerring fashion on serve.
The Italian again eroded his opponent’s lead to prevent Djokovic securing a second break of serve and a commanding lead as he forced him to serve out for the match at 5-4.
The world number one had no problems in closing out the match with a comfortable hold to cap an impressive opening performance on the clay in Monte Carlo.
Next up for Djokovic will be a third-round encounter with the mercurial Alexandr Dolgopolov after he overcame Australia’s Bernard Tomic in three sets.