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Djokovic Begins Title Quest; Gasquet Ousts Dimitrov For Third Round Berth

Rome, Italy

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic thanks the crowd after his second-round win Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic began his quest for a third title with a 70-minute win at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Tuesday.

The World No. 1, who lifted the 2008 and 2011 trophies, defeated qualifier Albert Montanes for the fifth time with a 6-2, 6-3 victory for a place in the third round. Djokovic has reached the Rome final in four of the past five years.

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"It was a good performance for a start, even though I know I can do better," said Djokovic. "I know my game has to be better in order to win my next challenge. But I’m heading in a good way because I didn’t have a great week in Madrid and didn’t have much practice. 

"I came here very early; from Wednesday I spent a lot of hours on the court working hard, trying to prepare myself for what’s coming up this week and also after the tournament in Rome, two Grand Slams in less than a month time. It’s a very important period for all of us and I need to be physically, mentally, fresh and fit and I think I’m on the right way to be like that."

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Djokovic improved to a 27-3 match record on the season. Last week, he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the Mutua Madrid Open second round. Montanes, 31, recorded his last win over an opponent in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at the 2010 Portugal Open in Oeiras (d. Federer). 

World No. 10 Stanislas Wawrinka, who has won nine of his past 10 matches, fought back from a set down to defeat Carlos Berlocq 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Wawrinka win his fourth ATP World Tour title in Oeiras (d. Ferrer) and finished runner-up in Madrid (l. to Ferrer) on Sunday. He will next play Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round, with the victor going on to meet Djokovic.

Ninth seed Richard Gasquet set up a third-round clash against eighth-seeded French compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Jerzy Janowicz. Gasquet has a 4-4 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Tsonga, while he beat Janowicz at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells two months ago. Gasquet lost just six of his first service points to record a fourth straight win over Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4 in 74 minutes.

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