Two-time champion and two-time runner-up Novak Djokovic was an easy second-round winner Tuesday at the Italian Masters tennis event, a clay-court French Open tune-up.
The world No. 1 star blew past Spanish qualifier Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-3 at beautiful Foro Italico.
Djokovic, who has appeared in the final here four of the last five years, lost to six-time winner Rafael Nadal in last year's blockbuster Rome finale.
Also in the second round, ninth-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet handled rising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4 and big-serving South African Kevin Anderson knocked out 11th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic 6-3, 7-6 (9-7). Dimitrov stunned the mighty Djokovic in the second round at last week's ATP Masters event in Madrid.
In first-round action in Rome involving seeds, Frenchman Julien Benneteau upset No. 12 Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, Russian Mikhail Youzhny took out No. 13 Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3, and surging Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded 15th this week, fought back to beat Argentine qualifier Carlos Berlocq 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. The 2008 Rome runner-up Wawrinka reached the final in his previous two events, both on clay, beating David Ferrer in Portugal and losing to the great Nadal in Madrid last week.
Also in round one, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco edged out Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; Serb Viktor Troicki overcame Czech lucky-loser Lukas Rosol 3-6, 6-1, 6-4; Frenchman Jeremy Chardy came back to beat Spain's Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4); and Frenchman Gilles Simon outlasted wild card and Italian favorite Filippo Volandri 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
The second round will conclude on Wednesday, including matches for third- seeded U.S. Open champion Andy Murray, the fourth-seeded 2010 Rome runner-up Ferrer and the red-hot fifth-seeded Nadal, who will meet Italian crowd favorite Fabio Fognini on Day 4.
Nadal has appeared in seven finals in as many events this year, capturing five titles, including a Masters shield in Madrid last week. The amazing Spaniard is the all-time leader with 23 Masters championships.
The 2013 Rome winner will take home $660,000.