Italian Open 2018

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka’s comeback from injury proved to be short-lived as he fell in the first round of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia in Rome on Sunday. Joining him on the sidelines was former French Open runner-up David Ferrer.

Wawrinka, a runner-up at the Italian capital in 2008, was shown the door 4-6, 4-6 by the 48th ranked Steve Johnson in a contest that lasted 1 hour 21 minutes. The 33-year-old committed 30 unforced errors to Johnson’s 17 and conceded two breaks of serve.

This was the first match for the Swiss since retiring against Ilya Ivashka in his opening match at Marseille in February due to a left knee injury.Wawrinka called time on his 2017 season subsequently to undergo two surgeries on his left knee in August. The Swiss made the decision to resume competitive play in January when he returned to the Australian Open, where he was beaten in the second round.He played three more events to test himself against the top players before going on a three-month sabbatical to give himself time to heal completely.Despite the loss in Rome, Wawrinka insisted the result did not bother him as he started playing only 12 days ago.

The 36-year-old David Ferrer’s first outing in a competitive tournament on clay this year too did not last long as he was beaten 3-6, 4-6 by the 13th seeded Jack Sock. The Spanish veteran was playing his first match since becoming a father at the beginning of this month.Ferrer was last seen in action at the Davis Cup quarter-finals in April, where he beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in a gruelling five-setter to send Spain into the semi-finals.

In some of the other matches of the day, 12th seed Sam Querrey lost 2-6, 6-7(7) to the 53rd ranked Peter Gojowczyk. Ryan Harrison beat Yuichi Sugita 7-6(5), 6-3 and Italy’s World No. 140 Lorenzo Sonego outlasted the 27th ranked Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.ROME — Novak Djokovic was not looking too far ahead after beating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open on Monday.

Having failed to reach the quarterfinals in six straight tournaments following a right elbow injury, the 12-time Grand Slam winner doesn’t want to place too much pressure on himself — even though he is a four-time Rome champion.“Rome has always been a place where I’ve felt good, received a lot of support, where I’ve played well and obtained a lot of great results and today’s match encourages me and gives me reason to believe that it can be a good week for me,” Djokovic said.

“I would like to go all the way but at the same time, looking at my results, I have to be a little bit more modest with expectations.”

In the rankings released on Monday, Djokovic fell to No. 18, his lowest standing since 2006 when he was still a rising pro. He could fall further down the rankings if he doesn’t defend the 600 points he earned by reaching the final in Rome last year.Perhaps Djokovic can find comfort in the fact that he has never lost before the quarterfinals in 11 appearances in Rome.

“It is a mental game. Knowing that I’ve reached the biggest heights of this sport and I’ve been consistent with the best possible results for so many years,” Djokovic said. “The bar has been raised so, so high that when I step on the court I expect to win every match against anybody on any surface.”

Djokovic has said he returned to action too quickly following his injury.“I have to understand where the level of my game is and to accept this reality and to accept that there is a process to get where I want to go,” he said.Djokovic improved to 6-0 in his career against Dolgopolov, who himself has been struggling with a persistent injury to his wrist.

Djokovic matched his 14 winners with 14 unforced errors — to Dolgopolov’s 10 winners and 19 unforced errors.

Also, Kei Nishikori defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 6-4 for his first victory since reaching the Monte Carlo Masters final last month.

“It wasn’t (an) easy match,” Nishikori said. “It was windy. And he used a lot of slice and great serves. … Luckily I got (the) first set. After that I was more confident.”Lopez argued with the chair umpire after losing a point in which he thought the ball bounced twice before Nishikori hit a half volley.

The 24th-ranked Nishikori will next face third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov.David Goffin swept aside Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-2 and Pablo Carrena Busta beat Jared Donaldson 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.

In the women’s tournament, former U.S. Open finalist Roberta Vinci bid her fans an emotional farewell following the final match of her career.Having already announced that this would be her final tournament, the 35-year-old Vinci was beaten by Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.

“I’m crying now but I’m happy. I’m happy for what I’ve accomplished,” Vinci said in a post-match ceremony. “I would have liked to do better but it doesn’t matter that I lost.”Naomi Osaka, who claimed her first WTA title at Indian Wells in March, eliminated former No. 1 Victoria Azaranka 6-0, 6-3.

Also, Madison Keys beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1; Johanna Konta defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3; and Petra Martic beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-2 and will next face defending champion Elina Svitolina. Open finalist Roberta Vinci will have no regrets when she plays her final match at next week’s Italian Open.The 35-year-old Vinci announced in November that she would conclude her career before home fans at the Foro Italico.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and of the career that I’ve had,” Vinci said Saturday. “If I had been told when I was a kid, ‘You’ll enter the top 10, become No. 1 in doubles and win all of the Grand Slams, plus four Fed Cups,’ maybe I would have said there’s something wrong here. Tennis has given me everything and I think I’ve given something to tennis.”Given a wild card with her ranking down to No. 168, Vinci will open the tournament against a qualifier, then could face either 15th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova or Kristina Mladenovic in the second round.

While she hinted that coaching could be in her future, Vinci hasn’t decided on a post-playing career yet.“First I’m focusing on finishing well and enjoying my last days of training,” she said. “Hopefully I can win a few matches and put that last match off a bit.”At the 2015 U.S. Open, Vinci upset Serena Williams in the semifinals to prevent the American from completing a calendar-year Grand Slam. Vinci lost the final to a fellow Italian, Flavia Pennetta.“Certainly the victory over Serena at the U.S. Open is my career highlight,” Vinci said. “That seems obvious.”

Vinci was also ranked No. 1 in doubles and completed a career Grand Slam with partner Sara Errani.Her style of play is a throwback to another era, featuring a one-handed backhand, various spins and opportunistic forays to the net.

“It’s becoming tougher and tougher to do well with a style like mine,” Vinci said. “There were times where I would have preferred to play more of a physical game with a two-handed backhand, rely less on tactics and play more by instinct. Unfortunately I didn’t have those qualities. The game has become more physical and all about power — and less intelligence, I think.”

On Italy’s Fed Cup team, Vinci teamed with Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone and Sara Errani — each of whom either won a Grand Slam or reached a Grand Slam final.Pennetta retired shortly after winning the U.S. Open while Schiavone and Errani also have wild cards for the Italian Open.

“It will be difficult,” Vinci said, “to recreate the success that we achieved.”More AP tennis coverage: Dampf on Twitter: 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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