Djokovic Rallies Past Almagro to Reach Third Round at Madrid Open

by John on May 10, 2017

Coachless Novak Djokovic rallied from 3-0 down in the third set to defeat Spanish wildcard Nicolas Almagro 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open Wednesday afternoon. As the second seed, Djokovic received a first round bye. It might not have been the total confidence builder the No. 2-ranked Serb was looking for after losing in the quarterfinals at Monte Carlo three weeks ago and severing ties with his coaching team last week, but it certainly helped. For that Djokovic can feel good. With no coaches to commiserate with, or glower at after missed shots, Djokovic appeared calmer than he’s been in quite a while. He pretty much stayed on even keel throughout. None of the emotional highs and lows so apparent over the last year. “Obviously when you’re not winning too many matches, you have to build the confidence level, so to win matches like this definitely helps confidence,” Djokovic said. “[Almagro] loves playing on clay. He was obviously motivated. He has a lot of strength in his shots, a lot of precision. He can, from both corners, hit equally well. If he doesn’t make many mistakes, he can really beat anyone. But I hung in there and knew that eventually I’m going to get my chances and going to get some looks on the second serves. When they were presented, I was ready to use them.” Djokovic started inauspiciously, dropping serve in the opening game, but then roared back to win six straight games and take the set in 26 minutes. Bolstered by a supportive home crowd, Almagro began to play better in the second set, fighting off a pair of break points in both the seventh and ninth games, and holding his own with the Serb. With Djokovic serving at 4-5 to stay in the set, Almagro pounced. The Spaniard cashed his second break point opportunity of the game when Nole netted a cross-court forehand, leveling the match at a set apiece. Almagro kept the pressure on, breaking in the second game of the third set and racing out to a 3-0 lead. Djokovic, showing his experience and grit, broke back in the fifth game and then again in the 11th before serving it out. Almagro served 11 aces to seven for Djokovic, and hit two more winners (28-26). Djokovic committed just 23 unforced errors, while the Spaniard had 37. “I’m still finding my way to that consistency level and quality of tennis that I’m looking for,” Djokovic said. “I’m aware that I’m not playing at my best, but I’m definitely believing in myself and the process. Eventually, the game will come together.” Djokovic will play Feliciano Lopez in the third round tomorrow.

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