Novak Djokovic was left fuming at the chair umpire as he extended his record streak against Gael Monfils to 18-0 at the Madrid Open on Tuesday.
Trying to regain his best form after a slow start to the season, the World No.1 looked sharp in his opening match in the Spanish capital.
Djokovic defeated Monfils 6-3 6-2, becoming the first player in tennis history with an 18-0 record against a single opponent.
The win also means the 20-time grand slam champion will keep his No.1 ranking for at least another week, extending his record to 369 weeks at the top.
“I would probably rate it as the best performance of the year. I felt very good on the court,” he said.
“I’m very pleased, considering, you know, that up to today I was not playing my best tennis in the few tournaments that I played this year and still kind of finding my rhythm, finding my groove.”
However despite the scoreline the Serbian star wasn’t pleased with the chair umpire late in the match.
Djokovic was left fuming when Mohamed Lahyani wouldn’t let him challenge a line call because he’d taken too long to decide.
Fans then whistled and jeered as Djokovic argued with Lahyani about the call.
“Admit it, you made a mistake,” Djokovic said.
One TV commentator then said: “Djokovic must have the last word.”
Novak Djokovic finding form at right time
Djokovic saved all five break points he faced against Monfils and converted the three he had against the 21st-ranked Frenchman.
He arrived in Madrid with a 5-3 record in the three tournaments he has played in 2022.
The World No.1 needed three sets in each of his last three victories this season, all in Serbia before losing the final there to Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic played in only one hard-court tournament after having not been allowed to participate in the Australian Open because of his vaccination status.
He lost to Jiri Vesely in the Dubai quarter-finals before going down to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his opening match in Monte Carlo, which was his only other clay tournament this season before arriving in Madrid.
“I’m really glad that it paid off, because I felt good on the court,” he said.
“It’s the right process, and it’s the right direction.”
Meanwhile, Rublev reached the third round after rallying to a 2-6 6-4 7-5 win over 20-year-old Jack Draper of Britain.
The eighth-ranked Rublev – who won the title in Serbia to go with those in Dubai and Marseille – joined Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz as the only players to have won three events this year.
Marin Cilic defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 3-6 6-4 in first-round action with others to advance being Diego Schwartzman, Roberto Bautista Agut, Cristian Garin and Sebastian Korda.