Novak Djokovic takes Italian Open to task over Foro Italico court again
World No 1 Novak Djokovic has once again slammed the state of the stadium court at the Rome Masters.
Djokovic is not alone in his criticism of the surface and having bemoaned how it played in his opening match, once again questioned how a tournament of this status could present such a shoddy surface.
Djokovic and his opponent Grigor Dimitrov had to contend with several low bouncing balls and the Serbian complained to the umpire about depressions in the court.
“Rome never had a great reputation for the quality of the court, to be honest,” Djokovic told reporters.
“I know all the guys who are taking care of the courts. I consider them friends. I’ve known them for 15 years, and I get along with them very well. I cannot blame them for this.’
“What is interesting would be to understand how much tennis they’re playing on the court actually before the tournament starts. I think the other year I was asking, and they were not playing much at all.’
“If you don’t use the court, and you have a clay court, these things happen. The court breaks. You have many holes. You have an uneven surface, really bad bounces and a lot of clay.”
Djokovic believes that the Italian Open could benefit from bringing in outside experts such as the time they consulted with Roland Garros.
“I remember maybe about 10 years, someone told me they brought Roland Garros people in, and that year the court was best,” Djokovic continued.
“I don’t know why they don’t call them again because they’re the best clay court specialists in the world.’
“Now there’s not much you can do. It’s just kind of covering the holes here and there. I guess that’s a reality that you just have to I guess accept. Hopefully, as the days pass and the tournament progresses, the court will get better.”
Djokovic was happy with his own performance in the match despite dropping the second set.
“I think I’m getting close to the desired level. You can always play better but today I had a really good quality opponent and I think I delivered,” Djokovic said.
“I was very happy to find the right rhythm in the first game of first set… That was super important to make a break early and hold things under control,” Djokovic added.
He was, however, disappointed not to have closed the match out in the second frame.
“[I was] very solid. I think I could have won in straight sets,” said Djokovic.
“I was a set and 4-2 up and had a pretty decent forehand in the middle of the court at deuce on his serve and missed that. He held his serve well, we had new balls the next game, I did a double fault, the crowd got into it and got behind him and of course the energy of the place and the of the match changed.
“I dropped my level a bit, but luckily I managed find it right away in the first game [of the third set], made that crucial break and kind of shifted the momentum to my side, so I’m really pleased with the way I closed out the match.”
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