This content was published 7 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.
Novak Djokovic lives to fight another day. Not even he could have foreseen losing a first set 6-0 against Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil. It was a quite remarkable start to the match but Djokovic used all his renowned fighting spirit to respond and triumph eventually 0-6 6-3 6-2.
The matches do not get any easier as Friday sees one of the most eagerly-anticipated matches in Rome this year: Djokovic against Rafael Nadal.
“First set was a complete Bellucci storm, and I was blown away from the court. So that was something to change. Fortunately the matches are played in best of three, so I had another opportunity to come back and to restart, which I did.
“The crucial game was the first game of the second set where I held my serve, and then I felt that things started to go my way as I tactically changed certain things, started to change the pace, get him on the move from one corner another, which with a little bit of a shorter and longer variety of balls. And it worked well.
“But the first set, credit to him. I mean, he came out the blocks very hot and, you know, returning everything very deep, aggressive, serving well, hitting from all corners.”
And on the Nadal match? “I still haven’t played as well as I can and as well as I hope I can play in Rome in these two matches,” he said. “But I didn’t have too much time really to practice in these conditions, you know, coming from Madrid pretty late. It is a big challenge playing against Rafa. The fact that I played against left-handed player today hopefully will kind of get myself positioned and prepared well for next match.”