Yet another monstrous forehand aided him in saving a break point, although this time it just wasn't meant to be, with the world number 40 prevailing in a marathon game which lasted 14 points to lead by a set and a break. Djokovic, who could potentially meet top seed and 10-time champion Rafael Nadal in the third round, has a 31-9 record at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.
Nadal's victory at Monte Carlo previous year made him the first men's tennis player in the Open era to win the same title 10 times. He may face fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the second round, but the sterner test is a potential tie against Nadal in the quarter-finals. I'm enjoying being here in Monte Carlo in an event that always brings me to the best feelings possible.
But practising in Monte Carlo yesterday, Djokovic looked a man on a mission, determined to put behind him a rocky few months and make again permanent the occasional flashes of brilliance he has shown on-court so far this year.
"It's a fresh start I think for both of us".
But with Federer once again skipping the claycourt season, former US Open victor Cilic believes becoming the world's best player is a realistic goal after an excellent start to the year.
Djokovic, a two-time victor at Monte Carlo, dropped just eight points as he wrapped up the first set with his opponent well off the pace. This is my first event of the year, that I hope I can finish and I am excited about that. "Every match I win is very important".
The 36-year-old Federer ruled himself out of the whole of the claycourt season, after skipping the same period last year and going on to win Wimbledon. The Monte Carlo tournament launched his career as a scraggly-haired 16-year-old in 2003, although the sun had long set when he beat defending French Open champion Albert Costa under floodlights in the second round.
"I know that I can play much better than that, but I couldn't".
Concerning his health and spontaneity in the game as he's about to return fully to action, he said: "I feel good", he said. The more free points, the better chance Bedene has of pulling off a rather big upset.
Mischa Zverev overcame a mid-match blip to defeat Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2 6-7 (4) 6-1 and reach the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday. "Playing well below the desired level, it wasn't easy for me to cope".