Novak Djokovic says his three-set win over Gilles Simon in Monte Carlo on Tuesday could help give him confidence, but he was unhappy with his level of play during the second half of the match.
Simon, who took Djokovic to five sets in their previous meeting at the 2016 Australian Open, led by a break twice in the third set before Djokovic won, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. The Serb made 43 unforced errors during the 2 hour and 32-minute encounter.
"I thought I played solid tennis for [the] first set and a half," he told reporters in Monte Carlo. "I felt like I had the control of the match. Then the match turned around. I started making some unforced errors ... I started to take more risks because of his game. He always makes you play an extra ball."
Djokovic was playing his first clay-court match of the season. He made his return from an elbow injury at the Davis Cup quarterfinals less than two weeks ago.
"This type of victory can give me confidence," he said. "Mentally, I'm sure it's going to help me, even if I know I did not play the level I want for the whole match … It's my first match on clay since the French, and my first on the tour since Indian Wells.”
The two-time champion plays Pablo Carreno Busta or Karen Khachanov in the next round.