Thu, May 15, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Djokovic marks return from injury with easy victory

AP, ROME

Novak Djokovic marked his return from a right-wrist injury by beating Czech veteran Radek Stepanek 6-3, 7-5 in the second round of the Italian Open on Tuesday, while Italian hope Andreas Seppi complained about a decisive time violation in a loss to Tommy Haas.

With both new coach Boris Becker and long-time adviser Marian Vajda on hand, Djokovic showed no signs of pain after withdrawing from last week’s Madrid Open.

The second-ranked Serb’s only trouble came as he attempted to close the match out, dropping his serve twice late in the second set before eventually finishing it off.

“I expected to be a little bit rusty on the court, the conditions didn’t help, but generally it was a good win,” Djokovic said, alluding to the swirling wind inside the Foro Italico Stadium. “I’m happy with that and hope to elevate my performance in the next one.”

Djokovic, a two-time Rome champion, committed just nine unforced errors to Stepanek’s 27.

Djokovic, a two-time Rome champion, committed just nine unforced errors to Stepanek’s 27.

Also advancing was Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who routed Spanish qualifier Pere Riba 6-0, 6-3.

In first-round action, the 15th-seeded Haas overcame Seppi 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

The 34th-ranked Seppi could not believe it when he received his second time violation while serving at 3-3, 30-40 in the third set, following his first serve.

The second violation results in a serve being taken away, which meant a double fault for Seppi and he then went on to lose the final three games.

“I’ve never received a time violation in my life,” he said. “I was just waiting because the fans were making a bit of noise... It’s scandalous... And the first one was for nothing, too. [Haas] hit a drop shot and I had to walk back to get the balls. It was really uncalled for.”

In first-round women’s play, Italian wild-card entry Camila Giorgi upset ninth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) in a match delayed briefly due to rain, while 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy eliminated Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 7-5, 6-3. The 13th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro eased past Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-2.

There was also an upset in the second round, as Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic rallied past seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The 22-year-old Giorgi, who reached the round-of-16 at the US Open last year as a qualifier, showed off her attacking game, stepping into the court to whip winners into the corners at every opportunity.

Making her Rome Masters main-draw debut, Giorgi had loud support on the picturesque Pietrangeli court, which is lined with neo-classical statues.

This tournament is the last key clay-court warmup before the French Open, which starts in two weeks.

Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal, Federer and women’s title-holder Serena Williams were to open play yesterday.

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