Italian Open: Novak Djokovic wins on return after US Open incident
Rafael Nadal, the defending champion in Rome, was also victorious on his return to the ATP Tour
Last Updated: 17/09/20 11:51am
Novak Djokovic returned to a competitive tennis court for the first time since his US Open incident and beat Salvatore Caruso in straight sets in Rome.
The world No 1 said that he will never forget the incident which saw him disqualified from the US Open for hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball struck in annoyance.
Prior to the Italian Open, he had stated that it he didn't foresee it creating 'any major issues' with regards to playing well on his return to the tour.
Djokovic's assertions were proved to be correct as he dispatched the Italian qualifier Caruso 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 24 minutes on Wednesday.
The Serbian is going in search of his fifth title at the competition and the win improved his record to 51 victories in 60 matches at the event.
"I was actually looking forward to an official match as soon as possible after what happened in New York as I feel the sentiment on court needs to be positive," Djokovic said after his victory.
"I didn't feel any emotional or mental blockages or any drama playing a match today. I felt very comfortable," Djokovic said.
"Caruso was a very good test for me. I was very pleased how I handled myself in important moments of the match."
He will now face either Filip Krajinovic or Marco Cecchinato, the man who knocked out Britain's Kyle Edmund, in the next round.
The nine-time champion Rafael Nadal commenced his title defence with a dominant straight-sets 6-1 6-1 victory over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.
The world No 2 was in control from the start and closed out the first set with two straight aces. He completed the victory in just 73 minutes and improved his record in Rome to 62 wins and just six losses.
Nadal will face either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic in the third round.
Wild card Jannik Sinner continued to enjoy himself on the clay courts as he dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 6-7 (9-11) 6-2.
During his first-round match, Sinner kept his composure to push past the tempestuous Benoit Paire.
This time, he disrupted Tsitsipas throughout and made the most of it being the higher-ranked player's first competitive match on clay this season.
Injury halts Tsonga's season
A lingering lower back problem has forced Jo-Wilfried Tsonga out of his home Grand Slam at the French Open and the rest of 2020.
The 35-year-old has not played since lower back pain forced him to retire from his first-round match at the Australian Open in January against Alexei Popyrin while trailing 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1.
"I still have the morale, the rage, the desire and the motivation to come back in 2021," he said.
"I'm hoping that things will develop for the better. Getting back to the courts and fighting against all these incredible players would be a dream."