Monte Carlo: Djokovic survives scare, Tsonga exits

Novak Djokovic was made to sweat before struggling to victory 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 against Gilles Simon at Monte Carlo on Tuesday in his first clay court match of the season.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a shot to Gilles Simon of France.   -  Reuters

Novak Djokovic was made to sweat before struggling to victory 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 against Gilles Simon at Monte Carlo on Tuesday in his first clay court match of the season.

“It was a very difficult match, with many changes of momentum," the world number two Djokovic said. "It was very tiring for me, the first clay of the season. But this is the start of the Roland Garros build-up."

Monaco resident Djokovic was broken at 4-4 in the decider but then reeled off three straight games to snatch victory. He has suffered a disjointed start to the season with patchy form while recently sitting out the Miami Masters due to an elbow injury.

Djokovic won the Monte Carlo Masters in 2013 and 2015 but has won only one tournament so far this season, the Qatar Open at the start of January.

Back on court for the first time since the birth of his son, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was upset by a qualifier in the second round.

The seventh-seeded Tsonga lost to fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 at the first big tournament of the clay-court swing.

A two-time semifinalist at the Country Club, Tsonga had not played since losing his opening match to Fabio Fognini at Indian Wells in early March. Tsonga then took time off following the birth of his first child Shugar on March 18.

The 10th-ranked Tsonga led 3-0 in the first set then struggled to cope with the good mix of baseline shots and slices from Mannarino.