Novak Djokovic began his Rome Masters title defense by losing his cool and smashing a racket during a 7-6, 6-0 win over Spain’s Albert Montanes on Tuesday.
With rain disrupting play on numerous occasions throughout the day, Djokovic was kept waiting until 10.30pm local time before he could even start his second round match. When he got on court, he struggled to get the measure of an enterprising opponent on the heavy clay surface.
Having dropped serve twice in the first set, the Serb hurled his racket to the ground and snapped it into two after he threw away a point with an error in the tiebreak, which he went on to win 7-5.
Once he had taken out his frustration on his racket, the world No. 3, who had a bye into round two, regained his composure to dominate the rest of the match and go through to the third round.
In first round action, Spanish 13th-seed Tommy Robredo staged a stirring comeback to beat former world No. 1 Marat Safin 2-6, 7-6, 6-2.
After finally starting the first round match which had been postponed on Monday because of the weather, Russian Safin kept his focus during another lengthy rain suspension in the first set and broke serve twice to seize control.
Safin looked to be heading for victory when he raced into a 4-1 lead in the second but Robredo rallied to 5-5 and then levelled the match in a tiebreak.
The Spaniard kept up the momentum to carry off the deciding set.
“The match was nearly over. It was a great comeback,” Robredo told a news conference.
“When I won the second set I thought it was my time because I’ve known Marat many years. When things like that happen to him, maybe sometimes he gets angry and then it’s tough for him to keep playing at the same level,” he said.
“The conditions were terrible. At each point my shoes would pick up so much clay that it was like ice skating. There was no grip at all. He fell. I fell too,” Robredo said.
Robredo won clay court titles in February in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil and Buenos Aires and is coming off a quarter-final appearance in Barcelona, Spain.