World number one Novak Djokovic returns. The Serbian player had a difficult start to the season due to his decision not to get vaccinated, but after a difficult start he seems to have regained his form. In the Madrid tournament he was only beaten in the semi-finals by an extraordinary Carlos Alcaraz, but Novak seems very close to returning to his best days. He now returns to the Rome Masters 1000, a tournament he has won five times. The draw for the Serbian player has been quite benevolent with some first rivals that (at least on paper) do not seem irresistible at all. “Nole” needs to play and keep going as much as possible to rack up leg minutes and condition for Roland Garros, his stated goal for the clay-court season. After being “forced” to leave in Melbourne, the world number one wants to win in Paris to equal the number of Slams won by Rafael Nadal, who is now the absolute leader with 21 Grand Slam titles. After the usual Bye for the top seeds, Nole will make his debut against Russian Arslan Karatsev, who has struggled in recent weeks (especially on clay). If he wins, Novak will face Reilly Opelka in the round of 16, the likely favorite against Borna Coric and Stan Wawrinka, both fresh from injury.
Bodo comments on Djokovic
Novak Djokovic failed to make it to the finals of the Madrid Open after losing his semifinal encounter against Carloz Alcaraz of Spain on Saturday. “This was a big week for him. I think it’s a pity he didn’t get a chance to strut his stuff and get embroiled with Andy Murray which would have been a great occasion for us today,” Bodo said. “However, this turns out it’s already a win for him the fact that he is where he is even though this last match as a walkover isn’t the best of situations. But coming in, I had a lot of questions about him and I kind of still do,” Bodo added. “He had a lot of time off. He has been through a lot of what you might call adversity with the whole vaccine issues and stuff,” Bodo said. “So, these things tend to wear on someone and really get people thinking in a different direction. We dont know what his fitness level is really. Any player you talk to they tell you they are working really hard, that they are working 110% and stuff , but they dont always. I am really curious to be able to see this week whether he is able to pull together and play some statement tennis which he appears to be doing,” the American added.