Novak Djokovic has posted a 6-1 6-4 winning start to the clay season, as Australia’s Bernard Tomic suffered a gruelling second-round defeat at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Tomic went down in three sets to Andreas Haider-Maurer, who broke the 22-year-old’s serve at 4-4 in the third set before closing out the match 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in just under three hours on Tuesday.
The Austrian sent down 15 aces against Tomic, who on Monday moved to a career-high ranking of 26th in the world following his round one victory over Lukas Rosol.
Tomic was not without opportunity however, earning 15 break point opportunities – but converting just twice ultimately cost him a chance to progress to the third round and a dream showdown with Djokovic.
Instead it will be Haider-Maurer who will next face Djokovic, who was happy to wrap up the straight-set second-round defeat of Albert Ramos-Vinolas in less than 90 minutes.
“For a first match on clay, it was pretty good,” said the winner of back-to-back hardcourt Masters 1000 titles in the US.
“I’m happy to have started so strong.”
Djokovic is playing for the 142nd week on the ATP No.1 ranking, putting him one week ahead of Rafael Nadal on the top honour.
Roger Federer, Monte Carlo second seed, leads that statistical category with the all-time best of 302 weeks in the top spot.
Djokovic is also bidding to become the first player to win the opening three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments of the season after claiming Indian Wells and Miami honours.
Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy and Lucas Pouille all moved into the second round as a pair of compatriots lined up challenges against leading seeds.
Pouille, ranked 108, will also have his work cut out as he plays eight-time champion Nadal, who is desperate to maintain his title as king of clay and start to turn around what for the Spaniard has been a horror showing so far in 2015.
In other matches, ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov held off Fernando Verdasco 6-4 4-6 6-4, saving 15 of 17 break points, while Serb Viktor Troicki defeated Casablanca champion Martin Klizan 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 6-2.