World no. 1 and four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic is through to the third round, beating Salvatore Caruso 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes. It is the 361st Masters 1000 victory for the mighty Serb and the 28th of the season from 29 encounters, bouncing back after experiencing the first default in a career in New York.
Novak lost seven points in five service games in the opener, facing no break points and stealing Caruso's serve once for a 6-3. The Italian netted a forehand in the first game to put Djokovic on the scoreboard, holding at 15 in game two with a service winner to level the score at 1-1.
Djokovic held after two deuces in game three with an unreturned serve, followed by Caruso's backhand winner for 2-2. Novak sprayed two forehand errors in the sixth game to waste break opportunities, holding at 15 with a service winner in the next one and delivering a break of 30 following a forehand error from Salvatore to forge a 5-3 advantage.
Novak Djokovic scored 51st victory in Rome against Salvatore Caruso
Serving for the set, the Serb landed a forehand winner in game nine to close the opener in 39 minutes, having a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes and hoping for more of the same in set number two.
Caruso landed an ace down the T line at the beginning of the second set for a hold after deuce, having to work much harder at 1-1 and cracking under pressure to push Djokovic in front. Novak earned four break chances in that third game (saving four game points), converting the last one with a forehand winner to seal the game after almost 12 minutes.
Djokovic confirmed the break and they both held at love in games five and six. Salvatore netted a backhand to hand another break for Djokovic who sealed the deal in the eighth game for the place in the third round. At the US Open, Novak wasted three set points on the return at 5-4 in the opening set against Pablo Carreno Busta, lost temper and suffered a break in the next game to push the opponent 6-5 in front.
Frustrated with the outcome and a shoulder injury after a fall, Novak hit the lineswoman with the ball in the throat, causing her to fall and fight for air under the mask. Even though there were no intentions from world no.
1, the officials had to send him away from the court after a lengthy conversation, leaving the door open for his rivals to claim the first Major title, with Dominic Thiem using an opportunity to embrace glory.