WATCH: Novak Djokovic cruises past Aslan Karatsev to take first step in defence of world number one status
Novak Djokovic has now claimed one of the three wins he needs in Rome to ensure that Daniil Medvedev does not reclaim the world number one mantle from him next week.
The Serb defeated world number 35 Aslan Karatsev for the loss of just five games, 6-3, 6-2 in under an hour and a half on Centre Court at the Italian Open.
Djokovic must reach at least the semi-finals in the Eternal City to ensure that Medvedev does not return to world number one next week.
Should he achieve that Djokovic would move to 370 total weeks as world number one, just seven weeks short of the all-time men’s and women’s record of 377 weeks held by Steffi Graf.
The 34-year-old was actually 1-1 against the Russian heading into their battle in Rome.
In fact, Karatsev had defeated Djokovic in their only previous meeting on clay, in the semi-finals of the 2021 Serbia Open.
However, after a stop-start season so far for the five-time Rome champion he now feels at his physical best after a good run in Madrid.
OUTRAGEOUS from @DjokerNole 🕺#IBI22 pic.twitter.com/D430MUIZNW
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 10, 2022
Looking ahead, Djokovic will now face compatriot Laslo Djere or familiar rival Stan Wawrinka.
The Swiss overcame world number 17 Reilly Opelka to reach the second round and is ready and raring to go as he looks to build some form on his injury comeback.
Djokovic and Wawrinka last met back in 2019 in the fourth round of the US Open, the latter winning that day thanks to a third set retirement from the Serb.
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