Djokovic Opens Rome Title Defense Tuesday; Serena, Sharapova Lead Women
by Staff | May 11th, 2015, 11:50 pm

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.


CENTRALE start 12:00 noon

WTA – [3] M. Sharapova (RUS) vs J. Gajdosova (AUS)
ATP – [8] S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs J. Monaco (ARG)
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [PR] N. Almagro (ESP)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA – [1] S. Williams (USA) vs A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [6] T. Berdych (CZE) vs [WC] M. Donati (ITA)

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63 Comments for Djokovic Opens Rome Title Defense Tuesday; Serena, Sharapova Lead Women

Šuškica Says:

Volim teee… ;(

Margot Says:

Am hoping either a) Andy doesn’t play Rome or b) goes out early.
Has played a heck of a lot of tennis lately.

KatH Says:

@ Margot

I see you’re here – also hoping he doesn’t play.

Jim Says:

Hope Novak does well! Love that the summer is coming up! Can’t wait to start playing again. Found this really helpful site that finds your nearest courts called You should definitely check it out if you’re looking to start playing this summer!

jalep Says:

Simona was scheduled to play Monica Puig. Now I see on Flash score that Puig is playing lucky loser Kristina Mladenovic.

Suspect that Simona pulled out of Rome sinles. She’s still on schedule to play doubles. That could be wrong too.

Meanwhile Garcia-Lopez cruised past Cilic in the 1st set and up a break on him in the 2nd. GGL can really get on a hot streak.

jalep Says:

KatH…are you still around?

Wog Boy Says:

Nice win by Garcia-Lopez, Cilic is going from bad to worse.

jalep Says:

I watched GGL play some awful tennis In Miami, Wog.Boy.

Now he wasn’t missing anything. But, yeah, Marin is not near his best.

Wog Boy Says:

jalep, Halep had a bye, she plays Riske in the next round and now is playing doubles.
Marin was missing what I wouldn’t have miss and I never played tennis.

Wog Boy Says:

Some wild shots by Kyrgios and first brake to Feliciano, can he confirm break.

Wog Boy Says:

^^No he can’t.

jalep Says:

Wog Boy. I read the schedule wrong. Puig was supposed to play Kuznetsova, I think. Anyway, the French lucky loser Mladenovic just won. Puig is out.

Wanted to watch this match before I need to leave for work – Kyrgios v Lopez. Will miss Nole’s match.

KatH Says:


Yes, still around – will be back and forth for next 4 days (a sister + giant rotweiler arriving about 4.00pm)

Daniel Says:

Wawrinka about to lose first round as well

Daniel Says:

Talkes to soon, he broke vack and got another break to serve for the second set. Hope he does it, nono needs more a win as him.

Emily Says:

Sorry, Daniel, but Stan pulled out the win. Not a clean match, but coming back from a set down against Pico should give him the confidence he needs right now.

sienna Says:

WTF is happening Cilic!!!

I put it on the line for you andever since you are the djoker. Making me look bad in along with it.

Or maybe you read my comments and started to get nerves…

Whats going on, dude?

jane Says:

such a lovely first set from novak.

just read this tweet about whether or not andy will play:

Russell Fuller ‏@russellcfuller 4m4 minutes ago
Murray admits after practice that he really doesn’t know whether to play.
Coach: matches always good
Fitness trainer: rest
Player: torn

Daniel Says:

Almagro is smacking the ball in this set 2.

jane Says:

he was smacking it in set 1 too. :) but in that last game, what a backhand.

mat4 Says:

Nico is playing very well in this second set.

Novak’s FH looked very good in the first set.

jane Says:

i guess f-lo / deliciano was not impressed with some fans:

enrico maria riva ‏@enricomariariva 3m3 minutes ago
Lopez to the Kyrgios fans:” I can’t hear you, you son of a bitch idiots”

speaking of kyrgios, i see he’s playing doubles with sock in popsicle’s absence.

Daniel Says:

Yes Emilly, hope he can win his next match. Would like to see him play Nadal, since lately Wawrinka likes to play the big guys and delivers. With Raonic out of the picture him having a good week here would be good for his RG campaign.

Emily Says:

Agree, Stan much prefers playing the bigger players when he’s not the favorite and can thus swing for the fences

mat4 Says:

Great second set by Almagro so far. He serves well, and all his shots work well — the FH, the BH… Novak is struggling and he has to weather the storm.

Brando Says:

Novak’s got this in the bag but:

Almagro showed why Uncle Toni said had he been tougher mentally he’s a top 5 player.

Daniel Says:

What was that, Djoko leading 5-2 tiebreak and loses 5 straight points?!?!?!

mat4 Says:

Nico has always had a great potential. But he didn’t work on his stamina enough when he should, then, just like always, it is a vicious circle: you start missing because you are not fresh enough and you don’t move well, then you start doubting your shots, and it has no end. And when the evil is done, it is difficult to come back, to rework your confidence, find it again.

mat4 Says:


Novak has no key to Nico’s BH, especially when Almagro serves the way he did in the second set, when he can swing freely, winning a lot of free points on the serve.

Brando Says:

Wow wee: Nico toughs out Novak and takes the tie break, vamos Nico!

Have to go sadly but I expect a formality for Novak in 3rd. It’s no big deal: every now and then he coughs up a set and then bagels in the next set.

6-2 Novak for me in 3rd is the call.

But props to Nico for playing a brilliant set.

mat4 Says:

Novak has to make Nico run. I hope he will understand it soon, and start changing directions with his BH.

jane Says:

i missed the tiebreak, thankfully. : /

mat4 Says:


This match is a wake up call for Novak. A good lesson: a combo of good serves and aggressive game from the back of the court can be very dangerous for him. He can’t play the percentage all the time and count on the fact that his opponent will break down. He has to be more offensive, to divert his game, and to change strategy when he is in difficulties.

mat4 Says:

Great match so far. Novak plays well, but Nico is no slouch either.

Daniel Says:

Yes mat4, Novak is placing his shots too much in center court, kind of expecting Nico to overheat. When he moves him around and gets closer to the lines he wins the point. But they are smacking the ball hard, seems fasters than Madrid due to their power.

Daniel Says:

overhit, damm corrector

jane Says:

nole is so far back. he wasn’t early on in the match though.

Daniel Says:

Almagro serve is very good also, his second serve is very powerful, I almost see no difference from first.

Daniel Says:

4-3 Djoko, pretty open so far. But I expect Almagro to feel the pressure of serving second. From now on, any lapse can cost the match.

Daniel Says:

Djoko returned two balls in Almagro’s feet. Eventually got the break with some luck, one ball painted the line and another net cord. Serving for the match.

Daniel Says:

Win Djoko. Good match, he will have anneasier match next round and than the fun begins Quarters onwards.

Let’s see if Murray will play, he has to announce anytime soon.

jane Says:

phew, nole came through. it wasn’t an easy first match back. nico served well, hit amazing backhands, and loves clay. we’ll see how he goes from here.

nole hit 12 aces
40 winners
21 errors

and it was still that close!

mat4 Says:

It was a good preparation for the following rounds. Novak just felt too comfortable after the first set and he needed a tough match.

His serving was great, and he shows slow, but constant improving on this shot. He made a lot of free points, and lot of serve/FH winner combos, and 12 aces. It seems that the surface was a bit faster than the previous years, but it is just an impression so far.

Novak’s FH was devastating for long stretches in the match, especially when hit on purpose, with a clear head (in the point when he broke, Novak played with no plan whatsoever, just hitting instinctively): he used spin when needed, hit flat when he could, and find the angles with that shot. On the other side, the BH seems to be in regression: it was solid, nothing more. Murray BH is better at the moment, without any doubt, and Nishikori’s probably too.

I didn’t mention Almagro’s BH here, a shot he played with a lot of pace and precision. Novak helped him often by not making him play this shot on the run, but nonetheless, it was a pleasure to watch. Nico’s main problem is his movement and his stamina — he demonstrated today that he has all the shots, from the serve to the FH DTL. He was also very impressive in money time today, winning 5 points in a row with great serves and winners. Nothing was given to him in that TB.

I hope he will have a great tournament soon, and climb faster in the rankings.

jalep Says:

Didn’t see the match. Have to watch it later. Appreciate all the posts about it.

Nico getting his form back after his injury (wasn’t it his foot? ) sounds like. He’s a talented player but sorta known to choke.

Congrats Nole! Be careful you have a target on your back!!

jane Says:

jalep it was a high octane match. 22 aces and 69 winners between the both of them, which seems like a lot on slow clay.

chris ford1 Says:

Not taking anything away from Nico’s inspired 2nd set, but for the love of Roma, Novak is going to have to digest his loss of killer instinct up 5-2 in the tiebreaker and losing 5 straight. I has to run and do something at 5-2 and came back 15 miniutes later to find them in a 3rd set. WTF??? Of course some Nole is Perfect! fans will say he dumped that tiebreaker so he could get more practice time in…

Nole is good, but not THAT good!

Besides that, Troicki played a super tough match with Tomic. All 7-6 one way or the other. Troicki is well on track to get within Top 20 again when his first full year since suspension is done at Wimbledon.
Pity Flavia lost in her homeland’s tournament. Not the player she once was, but what a woman!

jalep Says:

Wow jane. When I get home I’m sure I’ll totally enjoy it…knowing of course in the end Nole pulled through. I do love Nico’s hair and his lovely one handed backhand

*sigh of relief*

mat4 Says:

CF 1:

Nico won the TB fair and square. From 5-2 he played very well.

jane Says:

mat4, wog boy, and any other novak fans, here is a fabulous article for us:

here’s one quote:

“The category in which Djokovic most clearly stands out is his performance against top-10 opponents. His 21 top-10 wins in a 50-match stretch outpaces the best of Nadal (18, in 2013), Federer (17, in 2006-07), and Andre Agassi (17, in 1994-95). Only 12 different players have won ten top-10 matchups in a 50-match stretch, let alone 20. Novak’s 23 top-10 matches is also the highest on record.”

courbon Says:

@ Jane: Thank for the link.This link is also for Fed fans-it shows his dominance in the past.

jane Says:

you’re welcome courbon; yes that’s true. it emphasizes fed’s success particularly in 2006-7.

Wog Boy Says:

“i guess f-lo / deliciano was not impressed with some fans:

enrico maria riva ‏@enricomariariva 3m3 minutes ago
Lopez to the Kyrgios fans:” I can’t hear you, you son of a bitch idiots”

jane, chair umpire failed in his duty to protect players, Feliciano had problems with thise idiots from the beginning of the match on that side of the court and he told chair umpire few times, they should have been removed. They looked like two backpackers who ended up on tennis match by mistake. Feliciano was on the other side of the court when matched was finished and walked all the way across to tell them what they deserved, good on him.

BTW, thanks for the link:)

jane Says:

no problem wog boy.

i see kygrios and sock won their doubles so those fans might still be around, unless the ump or security do something about it. i didn’t see this match, so i don’t know what was going on, but so often the umps etc don’t do anything about unruly fans, and players are driven to distraction or reaction.

chris ford1 Says:

Meanwhile, the women had some good fun imitating emojis.

Some awesome faces on the video.

jane Says:

those were sweet CF1!

danica Says:

I had a feeling that Nole’s momentum after the great first set was disturbed with all that fuss about imperfections of/on the court. Remember, the play stopped and it took some time to fix the hole . However, Nico played a nice second set while Nole’s mind was obviously wandering God knows where during the TB.

interesting observation re: Nole’s backhand. After a point where they exchanged several BHs and which Nole won, Justin Gimelston was full of praise. He said that Nole’s backhand is the best ever, technically perfect and he asked everyone in studio to come up with someone who has/had a better backhand. I tend to trust him. Nishi’s backhand is great too but I still think Nole’s better. We may be able to witness the “battle of the backhands” in the quarters ;).

danica Says:


SL Says:

@ danica.

Novak’s is definitely the best backhand today taking consistency, depth, power, spin and angle – all aspects into consideration. There are others who may be better on one or other aspect, but all round, no match.

I’ll give you some champions from men’s history (Open era only) who may have been in the same league. Of course, they played with different types of rackets and on courts that were often different from today’s.

Borg – almost as good as Novak’s except for the power aspect

Wilander – probably the best in terms of control and depth when he was at his peak

Edberg – single handed masterpiece, as good as Novak’s except for the consistency, also an extraordinary backhand volley, best backhand volley in the last 30 years surely

Agassi – almost as good as Novak’s all round, better passer

Connors – would give him the slight edge over everyone else, probably the best in the open era, could do anything with it and kill on any surface.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

No Nalbandian in the list?

Give Andre the new rackets. He will show who is the boss.

Daniel Says:

Fogini in the zone this third set!

SL Says:

@ Nirmal Kumar.

No Nalbandian largely because I said “champions from men’s history” and Nalbandian is not quite a champion like these multiple major winners on multiple surfaces. People could also argue for Kuerten, Wawrinka, Gasquet and a few others, but they are not the same pedigree of tennis players in my view, hence the omission.

Spot on about the rackets. One could say the same and more for Connors and Borg who played their peak years with tiny yet heavy wooden “squash” rackets. Its very very difficult to compare generations.

danica Says:

Hi SL,

quite honestly, I was surprised to hear Gimelstob being so one sided in Nole’s favor. I guess he had an inspiration :) in that very moment because it was an exquisite point they just played. How can anyone determine what is best ever anyway?

SL Says:

@ danica. So true !

It is a darn good shot though that backhand of Novak’s, easy to understand why anyone would be swayed.. :D

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