Two-time champion Novak Djokovic hung tough, drawing on his big-match experience to come through a stern second-round test against Spanish veteran Nicolas Almagro 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 at the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday in two hours and 15 minutes (this is his 15th match win of the season).
Nole rolled through the opening set, breaking Almagro three times to gain a one-set lead after 26 minutes. Almagro settled his play in the second and matched Djokovic throughout, erasing two break points at 4-4, 15/40 to hold. He’d break the next game, on his second set point chance, when Djokovic netted a cross-court forehand.
Almagro, the 2010 semi-finalist at the Caja Magica, soon took a 3-0 lead in the deciding set and came within two points of a 4-2 advantage. But Nole soon found his range on groundstrokes. Almagro, spurred on by the local crowd, attempted to keep each rally below four strokes, but in the 11th game, two pinpoint accurate winners from Djokovic gave him the decisive break.
“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,” said Djokovic. “[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,” he added. “When they were presented, I was ready to use them.”
“I’m still finding my way to that consistency level and quality of tennis that I’m looking for. 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.”