A former world number Novak Djokovic has played only six matches so far in 2018, struggling to find his form and make the right decisions about his coaching staff and general guidance that would take his career towards the steady course and send him to the pinnacle of men's tennis, where he certainly belongs.
Competing in the opening round of Masters 1000 event for the first time since Cincinnati 2006, Novak made a perfect start in Monte Carlo, demolishing Dusan Lajovic 6-0 6-1 in 56 minutes for his fourth win of the season and the first since the third round of the Australian Open. It was a solid performance from Djokovic, saving all four break points he faced and stealing rival's serve on five occasions to book his place in the second round against Borna Coric.
This was the 309th Masters 1000 win for Novak and his 31st in Monte Carlo, earning it with an impressive display on the return after taking 67% of the return points! This match should not serve as a measure of Novak's current form but we should know more after his match with an in-form Croat on Wednesday.
Djokovic finished the match with 19 winners and 16 unforced errors while Lajovic could only hit four winners and 19 errors, a ratio that would never give him a chance against such a strong opponent. With Marian Vajda back in his box like in good old times, Novak was off to a flying start and he broke Dusan at 15 after a backhand error from the younger Serb.
A former champion here found his range and he grabbed another break of serve in game four when Lajovic netted a routine forehand. A forehand return winner delivered the opening set for Novak in game six after just 22 minutes, losing three points on serve and dominating in Lajovic's games as well to deliver his first bagel since Rome 2017 against Thiem.
Dusan managed to raise his level a little bit in set number two and he created a break point in game three, only to be denied by a forehand attack from Novak. Djokovic moved in front in the following game when Lajovic sent a backhand long and he saved a break point in game five with a volley winner to increase his lead to 4-1.
Lajovic got broken at love in game six and Novak served for the win in the following game, looking to seal the deal in less than an hour. Djokovic saved two break points with winners and he crossed the finish line with a service winner after just 56 minutes of play.
Borna Coric has claimed his 15th win of the season, beating Julien Benneteau 6-2 6-3 in 65 minutes for his 28th win at Masters 1000 level. It was a very good match for the young Croat, losing 14 points in nine service games and saving two out of three break points to keep the pressure on the French veteran.
Benneteau lost more than 50% of the points in his games and he couldn't save any break point he faced, giving his serve four times to play his last match in Monte Carlo as he plans to retire during this season. Borna had 17 winners and 11 unforced errors while Julien stood on a negative 9-24 ratio, losing the majority of the shortest points to hand the win to Coric.
The first break of serve came in game four when Benneteau sent a forehand long to lose his serve at love, only to break back in the following game after a great return. Nonetheless, Coric restored the order a few minutes later with another break in game six and he closed the set in game eight after breaking his rival at love for a comfortable lead.
The second set was closer and Borna had to save a break point with a forehand winner in game five and he broke Julien at love a couple of minutes later to gain a 4-2 advantage. Serving for the win in game nine, Coric hit four winners to seal the deal in style and set the second round clash with Novak Djokovic.
First round results: