Four-time champion Novak Djokovic overcame a challenging first set to beat British qualifier Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (2), 6-2 in his opening match at the Italian Open on Tuesday. Bedene, who was born in Slovenia and obtained British citizenship two years ago, frustrated Djokovic for long stretches with his footspeed, keeping the ball in play and whipping surprising winners.
At the conclusion of a tight first set, Djokovic served three aces in the tiebreaker then laughed to himself in apparent astonishment.
Also, David Goffin rallied past Fernando Verdasco 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Tomas Berdych notched his 600th career win by beating qualifier Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-4; Jack Sock defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 1-6, 7-5; and Alexander Zverev outlasted Kevin Anderson 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the tournament with a hip injury.
In women’s action, last year’s finalist, Madison Keys, was beaten by Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova 2-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Keys is still struggling to regain her form after left wrist surgery in the offseason. She also had opening-round losses in her previous two tournaments in Charleston and Madrid.
“I’ve had a bit of a rough patch,” Keys said. “It’s definitely tough defending points while still not feeling super match-ready or kind of fully back in the swing of things.”
The 33rd-ranked Gavrilova had to come through qualifying because she forgot to enter the main draw.
Gavrilova broke Keys’ serve at love to take a 6-5 lead in the third set then hit an ace on her second match point.
Also, fifth-seeded Johanna Konta defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-0; Ekaterina Makarova eliminated Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-1; and qualifier Catherine Bellis beat Misako Doi 6-4, 7-6 (6).