Aussie Open champ Djokovic reaches Monte Carlo third round

Updated: April 22, 2008, 11:58 AM ET
Associated Press

MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters by defeating Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-3 Tuesday.

[+] EnlargeNovak Djokovic
Valery Hache/AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic advanced to the third round where he will face Andy Murray.

The Australian Open champion broke Ljubicic at love in the eighth game of the first set for a 5-3 lead and clinched the set with an ace.

Using a two-handed backhand to counter Ljubicic's booming serve, Djokovic saved two break points in the eighth game of the second set but was rarely troubled.

"I came up with a straight-set win, which is very important for me at the start of the clay-court season," Djokovic said. "I played my best tennis in the most important moments, and that's what actually matters most."

The Serb will meet Andy Murray, who beat Filippo Volandri of Italy 6-4, 6-1.

After missing the chance to even the score at 4-4, Ljubicic's serve withered in the next game and Djokovic won on his first match point when Ljubicic hit a forehand into the net from the back of the court.

Djokovic said he took more time than usual to find his rhythm before pulling away.

"That's why I got off to a nervous start," Djokovic said. "But then I played at a very good level."

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Djokovic's best showing on clay so far was last year's title at Estoril, Portugal.

"One of the things that I really try to have this year is patience," Djokovic said. "On the other hand, I'll try to be myself and be aggressive, the kind of style of game that I always have. So it's going to be a real test for me."

Djokovic leads the ATP race and has two tournament wins already this year, compared to one for top-ranked Roger Federer. Second-ranked Rafael Nadal, a clay specialist, is looking for his first.

"I don't want to push myself too much and focus on the points and rankings," Djokovic said. "I know I have enough potential to be top of the world. But I'm only 20 years old, I still have a lot of time ahead of me."

Tommy Robredo of Spain beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 7-5 in the first round.

Neither player looked comfortable in an error-strewn match, but the 12th-seeded Robredo capitalized on more opportunities and broke Wawrinka's serve six times. He faces Robin Soderling of Sweden in the second round of the clay-court tournament.

Ivo Karlovic of Croatia also advanced when Sebastien Grosjean retired with an injury while trailing 4-6, 6-4, 4-1. The Frenchman needed treatment on his thigh early in the third set.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin and Igor Andreev won in straight sets. Safin beat Xavier Malisse of Belgium 6-3, 6-2, and Andreev defeated Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 7-5, 6-3.

Safin faces fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, while Andreev plays eighth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

Also in the first round, Simone Bolelli of Italy beat Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-2, 6-2, and Jarkko Nieminen of Finland dominated Marc Gicquel of France 6-0, 6-4.

No. 11 Juan Monaco of Argentina, Andreas Seppi of Italy and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain also advanced in straight sets. Ramirez Hidalgo will play top-seeded Federer.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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