Roger Federer finally opens his 2010 clay court season Tuesday at the Rome Tennis Masters. As he joked in an interview over the weekend, Federer comes into his match against Ernests Gulbis on the wind of an 11-match clay winning streak which includes his triumphant French Open title last May.
Gulbis has been playing some furious tennis of his own and he pushed Federer to three sets at the start of the year in Doha. So it should be a good, early season test for Federer. Roger usually likes the pace and Gulbis isn’t none to shy about letting it rip. I expect another tough match with Federer prevailing in the end.
Also on Tuesday, Novak Djokovic will have a battle on his hand as well against Jeremy Chardy. Djokovic, a Rome winner in 2008 and finalist last year, has three wins over the Frenchman. But after sacking Todd Martin a few weeks ago and playing some great tennis, Novak looked downright terrible in a loss to Fernando Verdasco in Monte Carlo. Let’s see which Joker shows up Tuesday.
Andy Murray is on late under the lights against Andreas Seppi. Murray has been in a free-fall losing three straight matches. But he’s won three of four against Seppi though he’s never played him on the Italian’s favorite clay surface. This one could go either way. Somehow I think Murray will finally get his win.
There are plenty of other interesting matches tomorrow including David Ferrer v. Evgeny Koralev, Thomas Bellucci v. Leonardo Mayer and Lleyton Hewitt v. Mikhail Youhzny.
Rafael Nadal will open his Rome play on Wednesday.
Today’s first round results victors were Tomas Berdych, Ivan Ljubicic, John Isner and Juan Monaco. In the surprise, Juan Carlos Ferrer was drummed by Argentine qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-0, 6-3.
Federer also was a winner teaming with Yves Allegro in a first round doubles victory.
CENTER COURT start 1:00 PM
[WC] S Bolelli (ITA) vs [LL] S Greul (GER)
J Chardy (FRA) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
 R Federer (SUI) vs E Gulbis (LAT)
Not Before 8:30 PM
A Seppi (ITA) vs  A Murray (GBR)
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / A Montanes (ESP) vs M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)
PIETRANGELI start 1:00 pm
L Hewitt (AUS) vs  M Youzhny (RUS)
N Almagro (ESP) vs L Kubot (POL)
T Bellucci (BRA) vs [Q] L Mayer (ARG)
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs E Korolev (KAZ)
COURT 5 start 1:00 pm
J Melzer (AUT) vs S Wawrinka (SUI)
V Hanescu (ROU) vs  J Monaco (ARG)
COURT 6 start 1:00 pm
B Becker (GER) vs F Lopez (ESP)
V Troicki (SRB) vs T de Bakker (NED)
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