Top-ranked Novak Djokovic eased into the third round of the Madrid Open by beating Borna Coric 6-2, 6-4 here.
Djokovic, who had not played in Madrid since 2013, served four double faults but relied on his return to overpower Coric yesterday.
“I thought I was serving quite well in the practice sessions, but then the first set went well, the second, not so much,” said Djokovic, who claimed his only Madrid title in 2011 when he beat Rafael Nadal in the final.
“The first serve percentage could have been higher and should be higher for the upcoming matches. But I’m satisfied with my game.”
Coric’s style has been compared to that of ‘a young Djokovic,’ and the Serb said his opponent had a “nice balance between confident approach and self-belief on the court, and is not really intimidated by anyone’s presence.”
Djokovic said he could “identify myself with him because we have very similar backgrounds, coming from Croatia and Serbia. We have the same mentality, speak the same language and more or the less same trajectory or path to professional tennis.”
Tennis fans are bound to see more of Coric, Djokovic predicted, adding: “And I’ll be glad to help him become better.”
Djokovic’s next opponent will be Roberto Bautista Agut. Also, Nick Kyrgios of Australia put in a hard-hitting performance to beat fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka of Swizterland 7-6 (7), 7-6 (2), while sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori advanced by beating Fabio Fognini 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Sam Querrey of the United States defeated Lucas Pouille of France 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 and eighth-seeded Tomas Berdych beat Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-3.
In the women’s draw, fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the tournament because of a lower back injury. The 26-year-old Azarenka said she “tweaked” her back during her opening match against Laura Robson and that the pain persisted during her second-round win over Alize Cornet.
Azarenka had been scheduled to play Louisa Chirico of the United States yesterday, but she withdrew during the warmups. Azarenka said “I don’t feel that I’m able to compete today.” She said it is going to be a matter of making the “smart decision.”
The women’s tournament also lost its fifth-seeded player when 22-year-old Daria Gavrilova of Australia defeated Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4.