The top player on the ATP World Tour took the week off in Madrid, a decision that will allow him to be a significant force in Rome. Novak Djokovic will begin his campaign against Nicolas Almagro, whom he has faced on three previous occasions on the professional circuit. The Serb leads the head-to-head series 3-0.
Djokovic, who already has a clay court Masters 1000 title to his name this season, has a 30-2 record so far this season and appears to be near-unstoppable on the tour. Most recently at the Monte Carlo event, Djokovic overcame a determined Tomas Berdych in three sets to lift his third Masters 1000 title of the season. He won the match 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in a contest that was interrupted by a rain delay midway through the second set. Djokovic eventually won the match in two hours and 43 minutes to extend his winning streak to 17 consecutive matches.
“I want to build a platform to get off and perform well,” Djokovic admitted at the Foro Italico 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.”
Spain’s Nicolas Almagro began his week in Rome with a straight sets victory against Italy’s Luca Vanni. He struck seven aces, won 88% of his first service points and saved all three of the break points he faced en route to a 6-4, 6-3 win in one hour and 18 minutes.
This marks the first time in three years that Djokovic and Almagro will meet on the professional tour. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 3-0, including a clay court victory at this event seven years ago.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets