Djokovic, Federer, And Murray In Action Today
The first day of Rome brought upsets, (Ferrero out to a qualifier, Gulbis over Baghdatis) and tight, exciting matches, (Isner served 20 aces to beat Zeballos in 3), but the interest in today’s matches will be far higher. Three of the top four seeds will take to Rome’s brand new centre court to try overcome the first hurdle in their attempts to win a title that has eluded them all so far. Their main threat Rafael Nadal doesn’t take to court until tomorrow which seems fitting, as if to distance Nadal even further from the other three.
First up is Novak Djokovic, who made the semi finals in Monte Carlo a fortnight ago before falling heavily to Fernando Verdasco. Djokovic plays Chardy in his first match who he leads 3-0 in their head to head. Djokovic should not have many troubles against the Frenchman but needs to work on keeping his focus throughout the whole week. He has had a week to regroup and hit more balls on clay and should be ready for this encounter. He is on the opposite side of the draw to both Nadal and Federer and therefore has a huge chance of making the final this week.
Following Djokovic on centre court will be a much hyped match between talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis and Roger Federer. Gulbis is fast establishing himself as somewhat of an anti-Federer. He claims to hate practise and does the absolute minimum, he joked (we assume) about retiring if he ever wins a Slam, and his mental ability has always been much maligned. Compare this to the hard-working number one who loves tennis and says he won’t retire until he is at least 35 and you can see how different the two are. They have one thing in common, however, and that is talent. Gulbis displayed oodles of it in overcoming Baghdatis 6-2 6-2 and will need every inch of it as he comes up against Federer for the second time in his career. He managed to get a set off him at the start of the year and with Federer having only played one match on clay in 2010 (doubles) Gulbis could be looking at his best chance to make the upset. No matter the result, this promises to be entertaining.
Following on from Federer will be Andy Murray, who finds himself struggling for the first time since cracking the top five. Murray didn’t win a match in Monte Carlo but should manage to get past Andreas Seppi tonight. Contrary to this year’s results, Murray isn’t useless on clay. It may be his least favourite surface and he certainly doesn’t move well enough to be considered a true contender for this title, but he made the quarter finals of Roland Garros last year and should be expecting something similar in Rome. Seppi rarely challenges any of the top players and had his lone win in a 1-3 head to head over Murray on grass in 2006. It looks likely that Murray will take his first clay court win of the season tonight.