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Djokovic begins Italian Open defense solidly

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ROME (AP) -Top-ranked Novak Djokovic made a solid return to red-clay courts, dominating Australian teenager Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-3 to open the defense of his Italian Open title on Tuesday night.

In women's action, Serena Williams beat 46th-ranked Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-3 for her 14th consecutive victory, following titles in Charleston, South Carolina, and Madrid - plus two wins in Fed Cup.

Coming off a quarterfinal loss to fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic on the blue clay at last week's Madrid Open, Djokovic went ahead with two early breaks and faced minimal resistance from the 19-year-old Tomic, the youngest player in the top 50 at No. 32.

"It was a good match for me to start with," said Djokovic, who wore a black outfit featuring Serbia's red-white-and-blue colors running down one side. "(Tomic) has a lot of talent and he changes things up well, so you don't know what to expect - that's what makes him dangerous."

With the French Open less than two weeks away, Djokovic is looking to rediscover the form from his 43-match winning streak a year ago. Winning at Roland Garros is a top priority for him after taking the three other majors last year.

While never really pushed to play his best, Djokovic showed off his expert shot-making at times. During the game when he broke to go up 4-2 in the second, Djokovic was on a full run and slid into the splits to lift a perfectly placed lob that Tomic couldn't handle, hitting into the net.

Djokovic had half as many unforced errors as Tomic - 15 to 30 - and led 20-15 in winners

Earlier, fourth-ranked Andy Murray battled past David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in a strong return after taking last week off because of a bad back.

Also, fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cruised past Viktor Troicki of Serbia 6-3, 6-2, and Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated 13th-seeded Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3 to improve to 3-0 in his career against the Frenchman.

In other matches, sixth-seeded David Ferrer beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-6 (3), 10th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro downed Michael Llodra of France 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, and 14th-seeded Juan Monaco routed Romanian qualifier Adrian Ungur 6-2, 6-2.

Also, Marcel Granollers of Spain beat 15th-seeded Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4, and 16th-seeded Richard Gasquet eliminated Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-1, 7-6 (6).

In other women's matches, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova overcame eight double-faults to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-4.

Kvitova struggled with the bright sunshine at the Foro Italico but still managed to dictate the second-round match with her attacking game.

"I didn't feel very well and so I am happy I won, and I know where there is space where I can improve before the next round," Kvitova said.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova also advanced to the third round after holding off a strong challenge from Christina McHale of the United States 7-5, 7-5, and Venus Williams eliminated Simona Halep of Romania 6-3, 6-4.

"It was different than last week," Williams said, referring to Madrid, where she lost in the second round. "I sort of had to make some adjustments to get used to this court.

"It was kind of windy and with the shadows it was kind of tough to see the ball and it made it very difficult and so I was happy that I finished it well," she added.

Meanwhile, two-time champion Jelena Jankovic lost 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4) to Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Later, Serena Williams meets Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan in her first match since winning the Madrid title Sunday.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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