Nishikori back to winning in Rome, Vinci bows out with a loss

Novak Djokovic has reached eight of the last ten finals in Rome and won four titles in the ATP Italian Open

Since his tournament debut in 2007, he has never lost before the quarter-finals in the Italian capital.

Novak Djokovic got off to an encouraging start at the Italian Open on Monday, brushing aside Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round. He has lifted the trophy here four times and has reached the final on each of his last four appearances - even last season when he was going through a rough patch and had to stop for six months due to elbow injury shortly after.

The former world number one said he was encouraged with his progress despite suffering a second-round defeat to Kyle Edmund at the Madrid Open last week following a shock loss to Martin Klizan in Barcelona. "The conditions here are pretty suitable to my game".

Djokovic, who last won in Rome in 2015, next plays either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Filippo Baldi two qualifiers before a potential third round meeting with American eighth seed John Isner.

"Let's see, obviously I'd like to go all the way but at the same time, looking at my results I have to be a little bit more modest I would say with the expectations and see where it takes me". Knowing that I've reached the biggest heights of this sport and been consistent with the best possible results for so many years.

"I have to understand where the level of my game is and to accept this reality and to accept that there is a process to get where I want to go", he said. "The bar has been raised so, so high that when I step on the court I expect to win every match against anybody on any surface".

Earlier Japan's Kei Nishikori eased into the men's second round with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez as Italy's Roberta Vinci bowed out of her final WTA tournament with a first round defeat.

"He used a lot of slice and great serves, but I think I handled his slice well", continued Nishikori who won his last title in Memphis in February 2016.

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"Luckily I [won the] first set and after that I was more confident and I was playing better tennis".

The 24th-ranked Nishikori will next face third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov.

Wildcard Matteo Berrettini defeated Frances Tiafoe in straight sets and will now play Madrid victor Alexander Zverev, while 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta needed three sets to see off Jared Donaldson.

The 35-year-old reached the US Open final in 2010 and won 10 singles title in her career spanning almost two decades.

"Of course, I wanted to win and after the first set I thought I could do it", said Vinci. "Changes in general are good when they're focused on improvement and that's what I'm focused on and we'll see where it takes me".

On the women's side, two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka was outplayed 0-6, 3-6 by World No. 21 Naomi Osaka.

Former US Open finalist Vinci fell 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 to Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic.

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