World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka headline a busy Tuesday at the Madrid Tennis Masters in Spain. Djokovic, who won the title last year beating home favorite Rafael Nadal, opens his title defense against another Spaniard, Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, the Serb reflected on his chances this week after an emotional April during which he lost his grandfather.
“I had time since my last tournament in Monte Carlo to prepare for what is coming up,” Djokovic said. “I skipped my hometown tournament because of my circumstances. I didn’t think it was the right time for me to perform, and in the other tournament I wasn’t ready emotionally. I got that extra week to rest, to prepare and to practice.”
Djokovic remained against the ATP’s decision to allow Madrid to change from red to the controversial blue clay courts.
”The only thing that is a little bit disappointing from a player’s standpoint is that this is decided without players agreeing on it,” Djokovic told the AP. ”If you don’t have, especially, top players testing the court and agreeing for this change, that should mean something. They should have value in what they say.
”Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The ATP should have done a better job in representing the players’ rights.”
Following a successful Estoril title defense, Juan Martin Del Potro faces Florian Mayer Tuesday. Also, David Nalbandian meets Milos Raonic, with the winner to play Roger Federer on Wednesday.
While Rafael Nadal also makes his debut Wednesday, his fellow lefty countrymen Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco will be on court Tuesday.
A loaded women’s field features Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams all on the schedule in second round play. Williams will test the dangerous Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova while the struggling Wozniacki takes on Mona Barthel.
“It doesn’t matter who I play,” said Serena who is 8-0 on clay this year. “This is my first tournament in Europe, so hopefully I will keep my good form and just keep going.”
On Monday, Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez both advanced in three sets. American wildcard Ryan Harrison celebrated his 20th birthday by upending Sergei Stakhovsky.
Almagro took aim at the blue courts after the win.
“The courts are sliding a lot,” Almagro said. “It’s a different, unique surface that isn’t used in any other tournament. It’s so close to Roland Garros that we prefer to play on red clay. The court is not in the best condition. You slip a lot and hopefully there will be no injuries.”
Serena, Sam Stosur, Petra Kvitova and French Open champion Li Na were also winners. Venus Williams was bounced by Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-1.
“I’m very happy I could beat Venus. She’s a great player, a great champion and has won so many Grand Slams,” said Kerber who next meets Li Na in the third round. “I played very well from the first point, so I’m very happy about it. It means a lot to me to win against her.”
MANOLO SANTANA start 10:50 am
K Zakopalova (CZE) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs [Q] A Hlavackova (CZE) – WTA
Not Before 3:15 PM
J Melzer (AUT) vs  F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 6:45 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) – ATP
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs  S Williams (USA) – WTA
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 1:00 pm
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs D Istomin (UZB) – ATP
M Raonic (CAN) vs D Nalbandian (ARG) – ATP
F Mayer (GER) vs  J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
 T Berdych (CZE) vs K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
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