The Serbian, who turned 35 on Sunday, needed less than two hours to beat the 99th-ranked Japanese in his first grand slam of the year after missing the Australian Open, Reuters reported.
“I have to be happy with the match,” Djokovic told reporters. “I struggled to adapt in the first set. He is a very fast player. The first set was close but I qualified in the second and third sets.”
“I always expected the best for me but it was a very good start.”
After winning the Italian Open without dropping a set eight days ago, he smashed defending champion Nishioka, who had used a risky strategy of playing with tight corners from the start, to advance 4-2.
Unable to defend his Australian Open title due to his refusal to vaccinate against COVID-19 and his subsequent relocation amid a media frenzy, Djokovic missed a set point at 5-2 but comfortably held his serve to seal it off.
Nishioka was never annoyed with the Serb and walked the next two sets, losing one game in the process.
He ended the match when Nishioka sent another long forehand to advance to the second round as he looks to match his beloved teammate Rafael Nadal’s 21 Grand Slam victories.
“I was looking forward to going out to court,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been feeling really good on clay for the past few weeks. I’m happy to be back. The memories of last year are still fresh in my mind.”
Reporting by Carlos Grumman; Editing by Ken Ferris