Tennis world No 1 Novak Djokovic has made a return to competitive tennis for the first time since his US Open incident, beating Salvatore Caruso in straight sets in his wake.
The Serbian said the incident, which saw him got disqualified from the US Open for hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball struck in annoyance is one he will never forget.
But he stated prior to the Italian Open that he didn’t foresee the incident creating “any major issues” with his performance on his return to the tour.
Watch the highlights of Day 3 from the Men’s draw in the Italian Open…
His assertions were proved right as he quickly dispatched Caruso 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 24 minutes on Wednesday, 16 September.
The win improved Djokovic’s record to 51 victories in 60 matches at the Italian Open as he opens his account in search of his fifth title in the event.
“I was actually looking forward to an official match as soon as possible after what happened in New York as I feel the sentiment on court needs to be positive,” Djokovic said after his victory, Djokovic says.
“I didn’t feel any emotional or mental blockages or any drama playing a match today. I felt very comfortable.
“Caruso was a very good test for me. I was very pleased with how I handled myself in important moments of the match.”
Novak Djokovic will face either Filip Krajinovic or Marco Cecchinato in the next round.
Rafael Nadal sends US Open semi-finalist Carreno Busta home in dominant display at Rome Masters
Defending champion, Rafael Nadal, who has also won the competition nine times, kicked off his title defence with a dominant victory over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta, and impressively so, in straight-sets.
The world No 2 won 6-1 6-1 victory and totally controlled the match from start to finish. He closed out the first set with two straight aces and then completed the victory in just 73 minutes to improve his record in Rome to 62 wins and just six losses.
The Spaniard will next face either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic in the third round.
Rafael Nadal was, however, featuring in his first match since 29 February, when he lifted the 85th tour-level trophy of his career at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (d. Fritz) in Acapulco.
“It’s good to be back on the Tour,” says Nadal, in an on-court interview. “I miss the crowds. I played a good match, maybe he was a little bit tired after all his matches in New York. It was a perfect start for me. It was solid, [and I hit] good shots on the forehand and backhand. I didn’t expect to play that well.”