THE Belgrade and Emilia-Romagna Opens continue, with the former entering the Round of 16 stage while the latter played the remainder of its Round of 32 matches a day behind schedule following rain delays yesterday.
In the Round of 16 in Serbia, Novak Djokovic made it through his first matchup relatively unscathed, escaping a third set against German lucky loser Mats Moraing, 62 7-6(4). The world number one hit three aces and won 71 per cent of his first serve points off a 59 per cent clip, tying with Guillermo Vilas for the fifth most match wins in the Open Era in the process.
“I was twice a break up in the second set so I maybe could have finished out the job earlier, but credit to him for fighting, for playing really well, for playing very courageous, very bold tennis,” Djokovic said.
Fourth seed Adrian Mannarino was not quite as lucky, as he fell to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 6-0. The 90 minute encounter saw Verdasco hit four aces and win 70 per cent of his first serve points off a 77 per cent clip. While Mannarino tested Verdasco in the first, he more or less ran out of legs in the second as the Spaniard claimed a bagel second set. Meanwhile, Federico Coria outclassed in-form Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in just under 75 minutes, winning 83 per cent of his first serve points, while qualifier Alex Molcan blew wildcard Pedja Krstin out of the water with a 6-0 6-0 result and the first double bagel result for the ATP Tour this season.
At the Parma event in Italy, all three seeds reigned supreme with fifth seed Richard Gasquet and seventh seed Aljaz Bedene not troubled by their respective opposition in qualifier Daniel Altmaier and home hopeful Salvatore Caruso. Whilst eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka joined his fellow top seeds in the second round, he was certainly tested by American Sam Querrey who took out the early lead, before the Japanese talent commanded the remainder of the proceedings.
Caruso’s five compatriots endured a mixed bag of results, as three more fell but two to the hands of fellow Italians. Wildcard Marco Cecchinato defeated qualifier Raul Brancaccio 6-3 7-6 as in-form Lorenzo Musetti also proceeded, following a come from behind victory over Gianluca Mager.
“I think the Lorenzo of two years ago would not have been able to win this match today for sure after the bad loss of the first set,” Musetti said. “There’s a lot of improvement, we are happy and there is a lot of work to do. We are here to try to go as far as I can and [I] try to do my best.”
“You lost one match, you understand why you lost and you try to do better next time. That’s the goal and that’s the thing that I’m focussing on,” Musetti said. “I think this is the only thing. There is no other way to solve these problems. You just have to understand what you need and try to do your best.”
The remaining Italian in the draw was veteran wildcard Andreas Seppi, who fell to American Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-4.
“I’m excited. It’s another great experience for me. He’s playing some really good tennis,” Korda said post-match. “He made the semi-finals of Rome, which is massive. [I am] looking forward to it and hope that it’s going to be a good match.”
In the remaining matches, lucky loser Norbert Gombos claimed a two hour and 53-minute victory over Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, 7-6(4) 5-7 6-3, while Spanish duo Pedro Martinez and Jaume Munar both won through to the second round, as did Czech Jiri Vesely.
BELGRADE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [LL] Mats Moraing (GER) 6-2 7-6
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) defeated  Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-6 6-0
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2
[Q] Alex Molcan (SLO) defeated [WC] Pedja Krstin (SRB) 6-0 6-0
EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:
 Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Daniel Altmaier (GER) 6-3 6-3
 Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 7-6
 Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 3-6 6-3 7-6
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [Q] Raul Brancaccio (ITA) 6-3 7-6
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 7-6 5-7 6-3
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [WC] Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-0 6-4
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [Q] Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-3 7-6
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-1 6-2
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 7-6 6-2
Picture credit: Getty Images