Monte Carlo Masters: Ruthless Novak Djokovic eases back with a win


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The Independent Online

Novak Djokovic had not played a tournament match on clay for 10 months but the world No 2 showed no signs of rustiness as he began the defence of his Monte Carlo Masters title.

From 1-1 in the opening set Djokovic won 11 games in a row to beat Albert Montanes, a Spanish clay-courter ranked No 57 in the world, 6-1, 6-0 at the curtain-raiser to the European outdoor season. Djokovic, who ended Rafael Nadal's eight-year reign at the tournament 12 months ago, has been in superb form and is attempting to become the first to complete three titles in the same year at Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo.

Since losing to Nadal in last year's US Open final, the world No 2 has won six of the eight tournaments he has played in, his only defeats coming against Stanislas Wawrinka at the Australian Open and Roger Federer in Dubai.

"It was my first match on this surface since Roland Garros so you never know how you're going to react," Djokovic told Sky Sports. "Today I lost only one game so there are not too many bad things I can say about my game."

Djokovic will now play the winner of this afternoon's meeting between Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta and France's Gaël Monfils. Nadal plays his first match today against Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili, while Roger Federer will face Radek Stepanek.

The French Open has maintained the trend of prize-money rises at Grand Slam tournaments by announcing an increase of 10 per cent to more than €25m (£20.6m) for this year's event, which begins in late May.

The singles champions will each receive €1.65m, up £150,000 on last year, but the biggest rises again go to those who go out early. Singles losers in the first round will earn €24,000, in the second round €42,000 and in the third €72,000.