Djokovic squeezes through
Novak Djokovic came very close to making an early exit from the Rolex Mote Carlo Masters and only his determination and experience could be said to have saved him from that embarrassment.
It is a win that I will take as a great confidence boost. I'm sure that mentally it's going to help me Novak Djokovic
The Serb, who was playing his first singles match on the ATP Tour after five weeks off recovering from an elbow injury, looked very rusty a circumstance which no doubt aided Gilles Simon.
Unfortunately, the French man was unable to take full advantage of what would have been a major upset when he served for the match at 5-4 in the third as the world number two broke back, held his own and broke again to eventually claim a 6-3 3-6 7-5 victory and a place in the third round.
Djokovic, a two-time champion in Monte Carlo, was positive about his two-hour and 32-minute marathon. "It’s great to overcome the big challenge as it was presented to me today with this kind of win, even though I haven’t played the way I wanted, at the level I can play.
It is a win that I will take as a great confidence boost. I’m sure that mentally it’s going to help me," Djokovic said during his post-match press conference.
"I don’t fear anyone. I’m optimistic about myself and my chances in every tournament. I’ve earned the right to be optimistic everywhere I go, because of the career and results that I’ve had. This doesn’t change. I think it will never change. I will always want to win in every match that I play on, every tournament that I play on. With that kind of mindset I was able to get to the level where I am," the Serbian added.
But while Djokovic survived, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the seventh seed, crashed out surprisingly to his compatriot, the world No.56, Adrian Mannarino, 6-7(3) 6-2 6-3.
Also through is the 10th seed, David Goffin who required 70-minutes to beat Nicolas Almagro 7-5 6-1.
In the draw’s remaining first round action, 11th seed Lucas Pouille beat Ryan Harrison 6-2 6-4 while Gilles Muller dropped only four games to defeat Tommy Robredo and set up a clash on Wednesday with world number one Andy Murray.
Croatian Borna Coric, who won his first ATP Tour title on Sunday, lost 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3 to Jeremy Chardy after two hours 42-minutes of play.
France’s world number 40, Benoit Paire, suffered a 6-2 6-3 defeat to veteran Tommy Haas, now 655th in the rankings, while 16th seed Pablo Cuevas eased past Joao Sousa 6-3 6-3.
There were early exits for Nicolas Mahut who lost in straight sets to Karen Khachanov and his doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert who in turn was beaten 3-6 6-2 6-1 by Carlos Berlocq.
Other first round winners on the second dayÈs play were Jiri Vesely, Paolo Lorenzi, Feliciano Lopez, Robin Haase and Jan-Lennard Struff.