After a bumpy Madrid event, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer look to regain their footing tomorrow at the Italian Open in Rome. Djokovic, a 2008 and 2011 champion, begins his final pre-French warm-up against Spanish veteran Albert Montanes in second round play.
With the season goal of the French Open just around the corner, Djokovic will need to put up a good result this week and get some momentum back from his impressive Monte Carlo title run.
“It was a strange week for me in Madrid. I look at it as a valuable experience,” reflected Djokovic who lost to Grigor Dimitrov. “Every defeat is equally as important as a victory, so I try to analyse the things I went through.
“I came here Wednesday, so I’ve been here almost a week working hard on my game and fitness in order to prepare well for Rome. I hadn’t had a lot of practice before Madrid, so I’m trying to make up for lost time here. I think I’m ready and will be able to perform with my best tennis.”
Later, Federer will look to turn around a dismal to 2013. The Swiss who has never won the Rome title – one of the few missing from Roger’s trophy case – faces Italian hope Potito Starache who he has beaten all six times they’ve met.
“I’ve been practicing well and I’m really hungry and motivated to play again. I hope I can play a good tournament here,” said Federer. “That’s really important for me. But first things first, I want to start well.
“It’s totally different to last year, where I arrived at the last minute in Rome with the victory in Madrid. I was carrying a little bit of an injury with me and said, ‘ok let’s see how Rome goes’ and I played in the semis. It is a totally different preparation this time around. I arrived much earlier, because of my [third]-round loss in Madrid.”
Also on a busy Tuesday, Grigor Dimitrov squares off against Richard Gasquet in a battle of ultra-talented one-handers. Tommy Haas, Gilles Simon, Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berdych are also in action.
In the women’s field, rising Brit Laura Robson will bid for a rare Williams sisters double. Earlier today the 19-year-old notched another great win beating a back-hobbled Venus 6-3, 6-2, and now she’ll face younger sis Serena on Tuesday.
“I’ve always wanted to play her,” the 39th-ranked Robson said of Serena. “It’ll be a good test. She’s playing probably her best tennis. It’s going to be insanely tough, but I’m just going to go out there and do my best.”
Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and Ana Ivanovic are also scheduled.
Earlier today, the tournament lost its first seed when coachless Canadian Milos Roanic was defeated by Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6, 6-4. In the Italian War, Fabio Fognini took the glory from countryman Andreas Seppi easily 6-4, 6-1. For the win Fognini gets Rafael Nadal on Wednesday.
Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic and Benoit Paire who knocked out Juan Monaco were victors as well.
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
E Vesnina (RUS) vs  R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
G Dimitrov (BUL) vs  R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] A Montanes (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
[WC] P Starace (ITA) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
 S Williams (USA) vs L Robson (GBR) – WTA
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American Men Fail in Rome; Venus v Serena 2nd Round?