World No. 1 Novak Djokovic needed three sets to move into the second round of the ATP Madrid Open masters series event and then lambasted the event organizers for making the top players play on an unusual surface – saying the court was too slippery and the bounce was not consistent.
The Serb beat Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
“To me that’s not tennis. Either I come out with football shoes or I invite Chuck Norris to advise me how to play on this court,” said Djokovic. “Centre court is impossible to move on. I hit five balls throughout the whole match. With everything else, I was just trying to keep the ball in the court. When you slide on the red clay you have a feeling you can stop and recover from that step. But here, whatever you do … you are always slipping. Not a single player – not woman not man – I didn’t hear anyone say ‘I like blue clay.
Sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat South African Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round. In remaining first-round action, 14th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet beat Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).
Rising Canadian and world No. 23 Milos Raonic set beat former world no. 3 David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-4, 6-4 to set up a mouth watering second round clash against Roger Federer.
Spanish No. 15 seed Fernando Verdasco beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-5, 6-2 to reach the second round. “It is really special for me to play in Madrid; it’s my city,” commented Verdasco. “Of course to play in front of my family and friends is always really nice and I always try to do my best and try to control the feelings and emotions you have when you play here. So for me, it’s really big and important, and today I think I played really well and I’m happy that I beat a player like Istomin.”
Marin Cilic will meet American American John Isner next after beating Spanish wild card Albert Montanes 6-3, 6-3.
Austria’s Jurgen Melzer upset 13th-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 and will meet Stanislas Wawrinka next. The Swiss hit 14 aces on his way to beating Olivier Rochus of Belgium 6-4, 7-6(3).
World No. 11 Juan Martin del Potro easily beat Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-2 to get his campaign off to an impressive start.
“I played really well,” commented del Potro. “It was tough to have to play the day after the final in Estoril but I played well. It’s tough to change surface with the level I have at this moment, but I am ready to play and I am enjoying this tournament. As I progressed I felt better, I was feeling better and I left the match with a really good feeling, much better than at the beginning of the match.”
Ninth-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon beat Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-3 to also reach the next round.