Friday, March 31, 2023

Djokovic wins opener at Italian Open with vintage scrambling

ROME ( Associated Press) — Trying to regain his near-unbeatable form after his time off the tour, Novak Djokovic scored another in the right direction with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Aslan Karatsev in his opening match. Took a step Italian Open on Tuesday.

Top-ranked Djokovic is bidding for a sixth Rome title. showed some old scrambling ability Late in the first set when he went down a shot near the net post a low backhand volley went back over the net to dig out the winner.

It was the type of point that Djokovic pulled off by day last year when he came within a match of completing a calendar-year Grand Slam – winning all four major titles in a single year.

Playing on a court that is one of his favourites, Djokovic celebrated the point by making a gesture with his hands that urged the Campo Centrale crowd to applaud even louder – many fans stood on their feet. Did.

“You always hope that you can play some exciting and engaging points and come out as the winner of those points and celebrate with the crowd,” Djokovic said. “That’s what the crowd is looking for – they are looking for energy, enthusiasm, fighting and they want to see some good tennis.

“We had some good points today. It’s always great to play in the Colosseum of Tennis,” said the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

It was a neat performance for Djokovic, who made only 10 unforced errors in Karatsev’s 36.

Djokovic needs to reach the semi-finals in Rome to stay at No. Otherwise Daniil Medvedev will take the top spot and top seed at the French Open, starting in 12 days.

Djokovic missed several major tournaments earlier this year because he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus – which led to him being deported from Australia ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam.

Still looking for his first title of 2022, Djokovic lost the final to Andrey Rublev at his home Serbia Open, then lost to 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open semi-final. end of last week.

Djokovic will next face three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka or compatriot Laslo Jere.

Also on the red clay courts of Foro Italico, big serving John Isner defeated Miami Open semifinalist Francisco Cerundolo 6-4, 6-3 and will next take on 10-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal.

Diego Schwartzman, a finalist in Rome two years earlier, saved two match points and defeated Miomir Kekmanovic 6–2, 3–6, 7–6(3).

Grigor Dimitrov defeated American qualifier Brandon Nakashima 6-3, 6-4 to face fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Sebastian Baez, who recently won the clay-court title in Estoril, Portugal, extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-2 win over fellow qualifier Tallon Grixpour. Extended. Baez is now playing the role of Alexander Zverev.

In the women’s tournament, the latter saw a first-round matchup between two US Open winners – defending champions Emma Raducanu and Bianca Andreescu, who took home the trophy in 2019.

Also, Madrid Open runner-up Jessica Pegula defeated Lyudmila Samsonova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

American qualifiers Madison Brengle and Lauren Davis both advanced in straight sets. Brengle defeated fellow qualifier Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-3 and Davis defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-3.

In 2019, another American and French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova defeated Czech qualifier Tereza Martinkova 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 and will next play Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic.,

Ekaterina Alexandrova defeated 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-2.


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