Top tennis players are turning to former greats to fine-tune their game. But those down the ladder are feeling left out.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic scraped over his first hurdle at the Rome Masters with a 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 victory over Spanish claycourt specialist Nicolas Almagro.
The world number one, given a bye into the second round, was in total control as he swept through the opening set at the Foro Italico, but the aggressive Almagro settled down to his task and made the Serb work hard for an 18th consecutive Tour victory.
Former Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka also reached the third round but was also stretched before overcoming Argentina’s Juan Monaco 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Ninth-seed Marin Cilic was the highest-ranked casualty, losing in straight sets to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Meanwhile, in the women’s event Maria Sharapova wasted little energy as she moved into the third round.
The Russian, seeded three, was 6-2, 3-1 ahead when Australian opponent Jarmila Gajdosova retired.
1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat Nicolas Almagro (Spain) 6-1 6-7(5) 6-3
15-Kevin Anderson (South Africa) beat Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 3-0 (Kohlschreiber retired)
8-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) beat Juan Monaco (Argentina) 4-6 6-3 6-2
3-Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat Jarmila Gajdosova (Australia) 6-2 3-1 (Gajdosova retired)