Last week Novak Djokovic had announced that he was bidding adieu to his entire support team in an attempt to arrest his slump in form which had cropped up after he had completed his career slam at the Roland Garros last year. He had said that a new beginning, a new chapter was on the cards and that he was quite excited about it, that the exodus was a mutual decision and one which was for the betterment of his game. The correctness of the decision to part with his long term and trusted comrades will be put to test today at the Madrid Open, when he locks horns with Nicolas Almagro in his first match after the much talked about split.
Almagro beat fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo in 6-3 3-6 6-1 in the first round of the tournament. Djokovic has a clear 4-1 record against Almagro with the Spaniard’s lone win coming way back in 2004 at the Manerbio Challenger. Although records are firmly on the Serb’s side , the current world No.2 has never before looked as vulnerable. For the first time in a decade his box will not have the familiar faces, for the first time in a decade it looks as if he will have to fight a lone battle. Sometimes, however, it does help to start afresh, anew, all by yourself, to pull yourself together and take a determined step forward, to forget the past and rise to the occasion. And so it is just possible that a revamped Novak Djokovic steps onto the court today , one who has rediscovered his older invincible self.
In another match of the day, world No.1 Andy Murray, albeit suffering from a similar drop of form, had a comfortable 6-4 6-3 win over 104h ranked Marius Copil. Barcelona finalist Dominic Thiem, Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and talented German youngster Alexander Zverev too advanced to the second round of the Madrid Open.
Rafael ‘King of Clay’ Nadal will start his quest for a 5th Madrid title today itself when he faces Fabio Fognini in another second round match. Nadal is in fine form having won at both Barcelona and Monte –Carlo and is the crowd favourite here too. A win here will definitely boost his chances of a Roland Garros title which will be his 10th at Paris and 15th overall.