Posted: Tuesday May 15, 2012 5:08 PM

Djokovic wins on the red clay of Rome

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ROME (AP) - Top-ranked Novak Djokovic made a solid return to red-clay courts, dominating Australian teenager Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-3 Tuesday night to open his Italian Open title defense.

On the women's side, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and defending champion Maria Sharapova won in straight sets at Foro Italico to reach the third round.

Coming off a quarterfinal loss to fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic on the blue clay at last week's Madrid Open, Djokovic went ahead with two early breaks and faced minimal resistance from the 19-year-old Tomic, the youngest player in the top 50 at No. 32.

With the French Open less than two weeks away, Djokovic is looking to rediscover the form from his 43-match winning streak a year ago. Winning at Roland Garros is a top priority for him after taking the three other majors last year.

Fourth-ranked Andy Murray beat David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in a strong return after taking last week off because of a bad back. Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cruised past Viktor Troicki of Serbia 6-3, 6-2, and Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated 13th-seeded Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3 to improve to 3-0 against the Frenchman.

Sixth-seeded David Ferrer beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-6 (3); 10th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro downed Michael Llodra of France 7-5, 3-6, 6-4; and 14th-seeded Juan Monaco topped Romanian qualifier Adrian Ungur 6-2, 6-2. Marcel Granollers of Spain beat 15th-seeded Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4, and 16th-seeded Richard Gasquet eliminated Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-1, 7-6 (6).

Kvitova overcame eight double-faults to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-4 in her opening match. Kvitova struggled in the bright sunshine but still managed to dictate play with her attacking game.

"I didn't feel very well and so I am happy I won, and I know where there is space where I can improve before the next round,'' she said.

Sharapova held off a strong challenge from Christina McHale, beating the American 7-5, 7-5. Venus Williams eliminated Simona Halep of Romania 6-3, 6-4.

"It was different than last week,'' Williams said, referring to the court in Madrid, where she lost in the second round. "I sort of had to make some adjustments to get used to this court.

"It was kind of windy and with the shadows it was kind of tough to see the ball and it made it very difficult and so I was happy that I finished it well,'' Williams added.

Two-time champion Jelena Jankovic lost 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4) to Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Later, Serena Williams meets Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan in her first match since winning the Madrid title Sunday.

 
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