Novak Djokovic’s first match since being defaulted from the U.S. Open will come against local wild-card entry Salvatore Caruso in the second round of the Italian Open.
The 87th-ranked Caruso defeated American qualifier Tennys Sandgren 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) Tuesday in the opening round at the empty Foro Italico, where fans are being kept away because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Caruso saved a match point late in the third set before closing it out after nearly three hours on a steamy 32 degree Celsius (90 degree F) day.
The top-ranked Djokovic, who had a first-round bye, said Monday that he learned “a big lesson” after he was thrown out of the tournament in New York for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.
Djokovic beat Caruso in straight sets in their only career meeting in the third round of last year's French Open.
In other matches on Rome's red clay, U.S. Open quarterfinalists Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov both won in straight sets.
Rublev eliminated Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis 6-4, 6-4; then Shapovalov was even more efficient in a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Guido Pella.
Alex de Minaur — another U.S. Open quarterfinalist — was tentative and wasted numerous chances in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6) loss to German qualifier Diminik Koepfer.
Also, Argentine qualifier Federico Coria, the younger brother of 2005 Rome runner-up Guillermo Coria, beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1, 7-6 (5). Coria will next face local favorite Matteo Berrettini, the No. 4 seed.
In the women’s tournament, Katerina Siniakova rolled past three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1; and last year’s French Open finalist, Markéta Vondroušová, held off a comeback from Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi to win 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.