After skipping the Madrid Masters, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic returns to action Tuesday at the Rome Masters where he’ll face former Top 10 Nicolas Almagro in the second round.
The Serb, who beat Rafael Nadal in the final last year, is seeking his fourth Masters title of the season. And he enters on a 17 match win streak having won 21 straight at this Masters level.
“I want to build a platform to get off and perform well,” Djokovic said Saturday.
“At this level you need freshness of mind and also fresh legs in order to perform well to overcome the challenges of long and exhausting matches on this surface. I hope my decision to skip Madrid will positively effect this week and Roland Garros. We’ll see.
“I have done things in the right way over the past couple of weeks. My whole team is here – both coaches – so we are taking it really seriously and we hope to have a good result.”
For Djokovic, everything this season points to Roland Garros which begins in less than two weeks.
“The question coming into each year: is this going to be the year or not?” he said. “That is the question present in my head, but it is not a question that is distracting me or bothering me; it excites me. It gives me inspiration and motivation. The approach of being in the moment also helps, so I need to be devoted to this tournament first.”
Djokovic has won the Rome title three times in his career, winning in 2008, 2011 and 2014 (every 3 years!).
Also on Tuesday, the slumping Stan Wawrinka is in action against Juan Monaco. Tomas Berdych faces an Italian wildcard and David Ferrer meets Richard Gasquet.
The women are also at the event, and tomorrow Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova headline play along with Victoria Azarenka who on the grandstand.
“I feel better than I was last week,” said Serena who suffered her first loss of the season last week. “I’ve got some matches under my belt and have been lifting my level.
“It’s important for me to stay positive and not really change too much. Obviously I’ve worked on consistency and not getting into my head so much.
“Madrid was a lesson as well. Whenever I lose I just take so many positive things out of it. I always rectify so I can always do better the next time.
Earlier today, first round play concluded with Gilles Simon (d Sock), Grigor Dimitrov (d Janowicz), John Isner (d Sousa) and Fabio Fognini (d Johnson advancing).
Venus Williams, Angelique Kerber and Sara Errani were among the WTA winners.
TUESDAY ROME SCHEDULE
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
WTA –  M. Sharapova (RUS) vs J. Gajdosova (AUS)
ATP –  S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs J. Monaco (ARG)
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [PR] N. Almagro (ESP)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA –  S. Williams (USA) vs A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP –  T. Berdych (CZE) vs [WC] M. Donati (ITA)
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