MADRID: Novak Djokovic has started a new chapter of his career with a tough 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, win over Spanish wildcard Nicolas Almagro in the second round of the Madrid Open.
Last week the multiple grand slam champion dismissed three members of his coaching team, including long-time mentor Marian Vajda. The decision was described by Djokovic as ‘shock therapy’ as he bids to regain a stronghold on the men’s tour.
“This was the fourth match of the clay court season for me this year, and all of them went 7-5 or 6-4 in the third set. Every match more or less that I’ve played was quite close, dramatic as well. I guess I’m supposed to be tested in every match on clay.” Djokovic said about his Madrid clash.
Uncertainty erupted at the start of the match after a disastrous Djokovic service game handed the home player the early advantage. Fortunately for the defending champion, he was able to swiftly turn his fortunes around. The power and experience of the Serbian contributed towards a six-game winning run in Djokovic’s favor, easing the apprehension surrounding his camp.
The promising start did little to deter former top-10 player Almagro, who was relishing in the support from his home crowd. Generating more momentum in his shots, Djokovic once again found himself pushed to his limits. Four break points came and went throughout the second set as the world No.2 struggled to find a solution. Inevitably, those missed shots cost him dearly. A tentative Djokovic dropshot was greeted with a Almagro backhand winner, handing him a duo of set points. Almagro’s breakthrough was then secured with the help of a forehand error from the 29-year-old.
As Almagro rolled back the years with some breathtaking shot-making, Djokovic faced the prospect of another shock exit. Almagro’s ability to move the second seed around the court raked in its benefits as a blistering backhand down the line secured a 2-0 lead in the decider. Still, it was not enough to secure the upset as Djokovic roared back to claim the break back before fighting his way to victory after two hours and 17 minutes of play.
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