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Djokovic Survives Youzhny Scare; Murray Untroubled

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic fought hard to reach the third round.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is hopeful he can “elevate his performance” after surviving a second-round scare on Wednesday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, battling past Mikhail Youzhny 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. The Serb had made a late decision to compete, having twisted his ankle a week earlier on Davis Cup duty for Serbia, and is lacking in match practice on clay, having been restricted to one hour a day in the lead-up to protect his ankle.

"My movements on the clay are still not at the maximum and not where I want them to be," confessed Djokovic. "But as the days go by, I think I'm going to slowly get into it and hopefully I can elevate the level of performance in the next match. Today was a big test, over two hours. I had a great quality opponent. 

"I'm very happy to win. I'm just happy to compete, to be honest," said the Serb. "I didn't know if I'm going to be playing the tournament up to yesterday basically. I know that my game is still not there, obviously, and I had a lot of ups and downs throughout the match.  Physically also I think I've put double the effort than I do usually because I still don't feel comfortable. 

"I haven't practised much. An hour maximum a day. Obviously it's taking its toll on my game. But as I said, happy to win and see what tomorrow can bring.”

The 25-year-old Djokovic is a two-time runner-up at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2009 and 2010 finals. He is bidding to win his third tour-level title of the season, following victories at the Australian Open (d. Murray) and Dubai (d. Berdych).

World No. 2 Andy Murray was untroubled in his opener. The Scot cruised past France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-1, 6-4 in 73 minutes, firing eight aces and breaking serve four times. Murray is coming off victory at the Sony Open Tennis in Miami (d. Ferrer) and improved to a 20-2 match record on the season. He is one win away from reaching the 400 milestone.

"I won the close games, which was important," said Murray. "I didn't make too many mistakes. It was solid. I returned well, served well. If you do those two things well on any surface. it gives you a good base to work from. It was a good start."

Swiss No. 13 seed Stanislas Wawrinka set a third-round clash with Murray after sweeping past Spanish qualifier Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-1 in 54 minutes. Wawrinka, a semi-finalist at the Monte-Carlo Country Club in 2009 (l. to Djokovic), won 70 per cent of points on serve and broke Montanes five times from 12 opportunities.

"It will be a tough match," said Murray. "Good test for me. He's played some good tennis this year. He obviously enjoys the surface, has had some good results on it in the past. I'll need to play well tomorrow to win that match."

Ninth seed Marin Cilic cruised into the third round, dismissing last week’s Casablanca runner-up Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-3 in 75 minutes. Cilic, who has a 17-5 record on the season, goes on to face France’s Richard Gasquet.

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