BC-TEN-Italian Open, 2nd Ld-Writethru, 596Djokovic keeps things in perspective after win in RomeAP Photo ROM144, ROM155, ROM137, ROM105, ROM131, ROM118, ROM131Eds: Updates, recasts with Djokovic win. He has lifted the trophy here four times and has reached the final on each of his last four appearances - even last season when he was going through a rough patch and had to stop for six months due to elbow injury shortly after.
Djokovic, a four-time champion in Rome, needed just 55 minutes to beat Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-3 on the red clay of the Foro Italico.
Novak Djokovic got off to a winning start in his bid for a fifth Italian Open title beating Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1 6-3.
Having failed to reach the quarterfinals in six straight tournaments following a right elbow injury, the 12-time Grand Slam victor doesn't want to place too much pressure on himself - even though he is a four-time Rome champion.
"Back in 2008, was one of the first big ones that I won, the first Rome title that I had". I always feel very comfortable in Rome. He could fall further down the rankings if he doesn't defend the 600 points he earned by reaching the final in Rome past year.
Since his tournament debut in 2007, he has never lost before the quarter-finals in the Italian capital.
"It's a mental game for sure. Knowing that I've reached the biggest heights of this sport and I've been consistent with the best possible results for so many years", Djokovic said. The bar has been raised so high.
"I don't have yet 100 per cent clarity in terms of what the future will look like but I'm getting there".
Djokovic improved to 6-0 in his career against Dolgopolov, who himself has been struggling with a persistent injury to his wrist.
Kei Nishikori edged by Feliciano Lopez in straight 7-6 (5), 6-4.
"I feel like every day has been a progress, Rome has always been a place where I felt good, where I received a lot of support, where I played well, a lot of great results and today's match encourages me and gives me reason to believe that it can be a good week for me", said a confident-looking Djokovic after his win. "It was windy. And he used a lot of slice and great serves".
"It's kind of a medium speed court which is quite suitable to the game style that I have".
The pair exchanged serves in the second set before 2016 semi-finalist Nishikori broke again and served out to love to book his place in the second-round where he meets third seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
American Madison Keys, seeded 13th, beat Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1, with Britain's Johanna Konta easing past Slovak 17th-seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3.
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 crying now but I'm happy".
"Of course, I wanted to win and after the first set I thought I could do it", said Vinci. "Changes in general are good when they're focused on improvement and that's what I'm focused on and we'll see where it takes me".
In the women's event, 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.