Djokovic thrashes Dolgopolov in first round of Italian Open

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BC-TEN--Italian Open, 2nd Ld-Writethru,596

Novak Djokovic got off to an encouraging start at the Italian Open on Monday, brushing aside Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round.

"Back in 2008, was one of the first big ones that I won, the first Rome title that I had".

But he returns to Foro Italico a different player this time around.

The 11th-seeded Serb has reached eight of the last ten finals in Rome, including the past two years, and won four titles-most recently in 2015.

Two further break of serves enabled the 30-year-old to wrap up the first set in 20 minutes before Djokovic continued to keep the pressure on his opponent, who was broken twice more, as the former world No 1 celebrated victory after 55 minutes.

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Djokovic faces a qualifier in either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Filippo Baldi in the second round.

"It is a mental game".

"Let's see, obviously I'd like to go all the way but at the same time, looking at my results I have to be a little bit more modest I would say with the expectations and see where it takes me". The bar has been raised so high. "The bar has been raised so, so high that when I step on the court I expect to win every match against anybody on any surface". And it's not a secret. "The conditions here are pretty suitable to my game".

"I don't have yet 100 per cent clarity in terms of what the future will look like but I'm getting there".

Kei Nishikori edged by Feliciano Lopez in straight 7-6 (5), 6-4.

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In the women's tournament, former U.S. Open finalist Roberta Vinci bid her fans an emotional farewell following the final match of her career.

The 35-year-old reached the US Open final in 2010 and won 10 singles titles in her career spanning almost two decades. "I'm happy for what I've accomplished", Vinci said in a post-match ceremony.

Japan's Naomi Osaka powered her way past former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-0, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top seed Simona Halep of Romania. 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys also made a smooth progress into Round 2 by defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1.

Ninth seed and Miami Open champion Sloane Stephens battled back from a set down to register a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-1 win over the 25th ranked Barbora Strycova.

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