World No 1 Novak Djokovic believes his preparation for the Madrid Masters was badly affected by not being able to practise due to an ankle injury after he was knocked out in the second round by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (8-6), 6-7(8-10), 6-3. Djokovic had recovered from rolling the injured right ankle whilst playing for Serbia against the USA on Davis Cup action last month to claim his first title in the Monte Carlo Masters a fortnight ago.
However, he said he did not know whether he would even take part in the Spanish capital until Saturday, although he also acknowledged that he had been beating by the better player on the evening. “I didn’t prepare myself so well, but, look I’m not trying to find any excuses for the loss. I tried to do my best in this moment, and maybe my best is not like it was in Monte Carlo.
“All the credit also to Dimitrov, because he was the better player on the court. He was striking the ball really well, serving great, changing the pace, and, yeah, he deserved to win, as I said. “For 12 days after Monte Carlo I haven’t touched the racquet. I didn’t know up to Saturday if I’m going to come here or not because of the ankle.”
Djokovic even appeared to further aggravate the injury when he twisted the same ankle when trailing 2-4 in the second set, but he doesn’t believe the damage will affect his preparations for the Rome Masters next week before heading to the French Open at the end of the month. “Luckily for me nothing really happened when I twisted the ankle during the match. It was a slight moment. I had good protection on my ankle.”
Dimitrov, meanwhile, was obviously delighted with the biggest win of his career to date. “It was a great experience for me today. Obviously I played him a couple of times before, so I kind of wanted to do something else and try some new stuff on court, and that was it,” Dimitrov said.
Azarenka loses too
Meanwhile, World No 3 Victoria Azarenka became the latest big name to crash out of the Madrid Open as she was beaten 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 by Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the second round yesterday.
Azarenka had looked as if she would cruise into the last-16 early on as she dominated the World No 24 in the first set for the loss of just one game. However, Makarova turned the match on its head in the second set as she broke early on and again with Azarenka serving at 2-5 to force the match into a decider.
Nadal, Murray cruise
Rafael Nadal made a comfortable start to his quest for a third Madrid Masters title yesterday as he eased past Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4. One break in each set was enough for Nadal as he overcame some impressive variety and touch shown by Paire early on to break when the World No 37 was serving at 2-3 down in the opening set, before eventually sealing it 6-3.
Meanwhile, World No 3 Andy Murray needed two tie-breaks to take his place in the third round as he was pushed all the way by Florian Mayer before eventually triumphing 7-6 (13/11), 7-6 (7/3).