|Djokovic is back in Rome and poised to win his third title at the tournament|
Novak Djokovic is back in Rome after having to sit-out Madrid Master due to his wrist injury. Prior to start of the tournament, Djokovic was optimistic about his return, stating "I'm 95% sure that I'll be back." And he did come back with some cool tennis, taking on Radek Stepanek and beating him 6-3, 7-5. It wasn't definitely straightforward for few reasons: it's always hard to come back from injury and play some as good as Stepanek. And there's always that risk of losing in the first round as well, as it was case against Dimitrov in Madrid last year.
But Djokovic had none of it; he displayed some superb tennis, much to the satisfaction of his fans, and the tennis world in general. However the match wasn't a straightforward affair as Djokovic was broken twice after breaking Stephanek in the second set. But he stayed positive and eventually found a way to get the better of his opponent and wrap the match up.
Following the match, Djokovic said it was one the hardest matches he'd ever played!
“It was one of the most difficult conditions I’ve played in in my life,” said Djokovic. “Playing when it’s very windy on the court, especially on clay, the clay gets in your eyes. It was very difficult to get any kind of rhythm. Stepanek is a very experienced player, so that’s why I had to be super-focused every game because I knew he had this variety of shots. It was a little bit frustrating when I dropped serve twice in the second set, but the positive is that I managed to stay mentally tough until the end and win.”
Match statistics: aces (1-4), double faults (0-7), winners (22-22), unforced errors (9-27), total points won (77-60).
Nadal will be playing G. Simon of France tomorrow, and Federer will be taking Simon's compatriot J. Chardy.
Nadal's should be straightforward, but Federer's is contrary. Fed is returning after his Madrid hiatus just like Djokovic due to the birth of his second set of twin boys. So his forehand and backhand could be a little rusty, but he's had decent year so far. It should be interesting to see how well Federer is ready to take on Djokovic and Nadal later down draw, and eventually at the French Open.