And with that, Novak Djokovic knew he was going to be in for a long day.
In his first match at this year’s edition of the Monte Carlo ATP Masters 1000 tournament, the No. 2 seed was drawn to play against Frenchman and former top-tenner Gilles Simon in the second round.
Even though Djokovic carried a 10-1 advantage in their head-to-head encounters, their last match against each other, in the fourth round of the 2016 Australian Open, went the distance, with Djokovic ultimately prevailing.
Playing his first match on clay since winning the French Open last year, Djokovic overcame that brilliant display by Simon to capture the first set. Simon, though, won the second. And early on in the third, was able to pull off more enchantement.
Simon got himself into a position of serving for the match at 5-4, but Djokovic broke him and went on to take it 7-5 in the third.
Simon also had the misfortune of drawing Djokovic in doubles. Teaming with Gilles Muller, the Frenchman fell to Djokovic and Viktor Troicki a day before their dramatic singles encounter.