The top names in tennis take the court Wednesday at the Rome Masters with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer all featured on Court Centrale.
The Red-hot Djokovic will look to continue his perfect season and extend his current win streak to 35 against qualifier Lukas Kubot. The Pole is actually a pretty decent player but Djokovic will be the heavy favorite when things kick off at noon local time (6am ET).
After his big win Sunday in Madrid over Nadal, if the Serb can win Rome and get some help from Rafa, Djokovic could be No. 1 in less than a week.
“My ambition or goal is to be No. 1 and my dream is to win Wimbledon so these are two things that I always wanted to do,” said Djokovic. “The No. 1 ranking is obviously getting closer to me but it still takes a lot of work to get there and if I do get there in a couple of weeks or months or a couple of years it does not matter. I will try to keep working to get to this position.”
How about a couple of days, Novak? It could happen. Though I still get a feeling Novak might not be around for the weekend. We’ll see.
While Djokovic continues his streak, Nadal begins anew. The Spaniard who saw his 37 match clay winning streak convincingly snapped on Sunday will be more than motivated to set things right this week in Rome. Rafa opens against Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi in what should be a lop-sided affair.
Federer rounds out the men’s card against JW Tsonga in the match of the day. Federer has beaten Tsonga in three of four meetings, and on clay if the Swiss is on his game his should get through. Still, Tsonga with his power can be a force on any surface. So it should be a good match.
“He is probably best on grass or hard courts – indoors etc,” Federer said of the Frenchman. “But I still think on clay he remains as dangerous because he has that wonderful serve with that the first punch with his forehand and I have to say that he has really good physical ability to run around the court.”
David Ferrer is also on against Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey faces Nicolas Almagro in two other good matches.
One result worth mention today was the complete collapse of Fernando Verdasco. If you missed it, the volatile Verdasco led Robin Soderling serving 6-2, 5-4, 40-0 with three match points before… well, you know the rest. Fernando isn’t known as one of the best finishers on the tour and today was just another cruel example.
Not-Hot Sauce double faulted twice in that game (didn’t he double fault down match point to Nadal in that Australian Open epic?) and that was the end of it. Soderling won three straight games to take the second set and eventually the match 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Ouch.
Andy Murray also put up a three set win over Xavier Malisse.
Tennis Channel has full live coverage and ESPN3.com has live streaming. So plenty of options to catch this last big tennis stop before the French Open which is just 10 days or so away!
WEDNESDAY ROME SCHEDULE
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
[Q] L Kubot (POL) vs  N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP
 R Nadal (ESP) vs [Q] P Lorenzi (ITA) – ATP
 F Pennetta (ITA) or B Mattek-Sands (USA) vs J Gajdosova (AUS) – WTA – Possible Court Change
Not Before 7:30 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [Q] A Rodionova (AUS) – WTA
PIETRANGELI start 12:00 noon
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [WC] F Volandri (ITA) – ATP
L Safarova (CZE) vs  J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA
F Lopez (ESP) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs S Errani (ITA) – WTA
M Cilic (CRO) vs  D Ferrer (ESP) – ATP
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