The battle for the No. 2 seeding at the French Open resumes Wednesday in Rome. Roger Federer, who just won Madrid to pass Nadal, seeks to remain in form against Carlos Berlocq.
Meanwhile, Nadal’s clay court dominance was interuppted on the blue clay of Madrid last week at the hands of countryman Fernando Verdasco. In his opener, Nadal meets German Florian Mayer who upset Canadian Milos Raonic on Sunday.
“I lost him in Shanghai last year and so let me think about the first round,” said Nadal about the German. “It is stupid to think about the final now –I don’t know any tournament that starts with the final. You know – here we are in a Masters 1000 and so you have a lot of good players and every point is difficult but I will try my best since the first round and if I am able to play my best I will go to the final.”
Nadal fell to Novak Djokovic in the Rome final a year ago. And to pass Federer he’ll have to at least reach the semifinals. Winner the title outright will also assure Nadal a return to the No. 2 ranking.
Also on a packed schedule, Juan Martin Del Potro is in action in a rematch of his Madrid win over Mikhail Youzhny. Del Potro admitted today after a three set win over Michael Llodra that he’s nursing a knee injury.
The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, headline the women along with world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
Earlier today, defending champion Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray made impressive starts. Djokovic took out Australian teen Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-3.
“It was a good first match,” said Djokovic. “I played against player with talent, you don’t know what to expect from him, he’s always changing his game. I’m happy about the game and the conditions, also another big crowd tonight.”
Murray had a tougher test getting pushed to the brink before prevailing 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
“I was a little bit fortunate at the end but I went for it so,” said Murray. “Some say you make your own luck.”
Murray won the match on his 25th birthday Wednesday.
David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, who upset Gael Monfils, were also winners.
Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and the Williams sisters were winners on the women’s side.
“It was nice to be back on red clay – it’s a lot thicker and true to Roland Garros,” Serena said after beating Galina Voskoboeva. “Galina played really well. I can see why she has started doing much better on the tour. I like her game – she tries different things and is a great fighter.”
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
M Granollers (ESP) vs [WC] F Fognini (ITA) – ATP
 R Federer (SUI) vs C Berlocq (ARG) – ATP
 S Williams (USA) or G Voskoboeva (KAZ) vs N Petrova (RUS) – WTA – Possible Court Change
Not Before 7:30 PM
F Mayer (GER) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs S Peer (ISR) – WTA
SUPERTENNIS ARENA start 11:00 am
 A Radwanska (POL) vs P Cetkovska (CZE) – WTA
 J Del Potro (ARG) vs M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
 R Gasquet (FRA) vs [WC] P Lorenzi (ITA) – ATP
[WC] V Williams (USA) vs E Makarova (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
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Crafty Martinez Sanchez Beats Jankovic for WTA Rome Crown
Williams Sisters Rock the Garden; U.S. Women’s Tennis Otherwise on Life Support