(May 10, 2017) Novak Djokovic came back from a 0-3 deficit in the third set to get past Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, while Rafael Nadal needed just under three hours to win 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 over Fabio Fognini to move into the final 16 at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.
Asked about his comeback in the third set Djokovic said:” Well, this was the fourth match on the clay court season for me this year, and all of them went 7-5 or 6-4 in the third set. Every match more or less that I’ve played was quite close, dramatic as well. I guess I’m supposed to be tested in every match on clay.
“From positive side, from that perspective, is good for psychological aspects and mental strength and getting confidence back.
“Obviously when you’re not winning too many matches, you have to build the confidence level. So to win the matches like this definitely helps confidence.
“I thought that for almost two sets I’ve played really well. Had 15-40 two times in the second set to finish off the match in straight sets. But, you know, I didn’t use my opportunities.
“He served well. Then he started to swing through the ball. Four games in a row he played really, really well.
“It’s tough to play Nico on any surface. Especially here where it’s altitude, it played quicker a little bit. He 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. I could feel his very high quality, especially the end of the second set and the beginning of the third.
“But I hung in there and I knew that eventually I’m going to get my chances and going to get some looks on the second serves. When they’re presented, you know, I was ready to use them, which I did.
“Yeah, it was very challenging conditions, as well. Towards the end, a lot of wind. But all in all, a real test for the first match here.”
This was the 12-time major winner’s first match since splitting with his coaching team last week.
As to the speculation on who his next coach could be:”Well, I mean, I understand that people are trying to speculate and trying to look into the possible coaches and create a list because I was saying I would like to have ideally someone who fits into the profile of a person that was kind of in my shoes before, that has been winning Grand Slams. There are not too many of those kind of champions in the history of the sport. I guess it’s normal that people start coming up with names.
“I can’t talk more than that. I’m going to think about who I want in my team. Right now I don’t have yet anyone. But I think by French Open or after French Open, I already going to have someone.”
Defending Madrid champion Djokovic has just one title this year and has been hampered by an elbow injury.
“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.
“I can take a lot of positives from today, as I say, for almost two sets. I was playing really well, consistently, taking my chances, returning a lot of balls back, serving precisely. I wasn’t making too many, you know, errors on the court. Then I had that four-game period which wasn’t that great. But I managed to recover.
“I try to take positives out of it. I know I can identify things that haven’t gone the way I wanted them in the game. But, you know, it’s normal to expect that sometimes you have those ups and downs. I’m going to try to reduce them as much as I can.
“Four consecutive games lost in this level should not happen because otherwise, you know, you’re going to lose the match. I was very close to lose it, as well. He was up 3-Love.
“But as I’ve said, you know, I’m happy with the way I handled the pressure in those moments, just stayed with him, made him play always extra shot. I did my work in the end of the match. So I’m looking forward to the next round.”
Four-time Madrid winner Rafael Nadal saved 10 break points in the first set and had to break serve as Fognini was serving up 5-4 in the first in a very back-and-forth match on Wednesday.
“I haven’t played bad, I played really bad,” Nadal said criticizing himself in regard to the match.
“Well, I think that even though I played really badly, my attitude has been very positive. My attitude and the will to win today’s match was there. My level of tennis was not so high today, but I managed to make it through the first round. It was uncomfortable.
“I think before it wasn’t so windy, but when I started playing, it was a really awful day. It was really windy.
“It’s true I’ve been through some difficult days with the issue of my ear, which cost me a little bit of general stability. I feel a little bit strange. But it’s something that is getting better day after day.
“Talking about the game in general, it’s quite simple: I think there was a moment where he was playing really well. There was another moment where both of us played really badly. The third set, we leveled up.
“I think we both played better than what we played in the first two sets. This is a positive thing. But that together with a couple of things, you know, it was the first match in altitude, then it was against an opponent that doesn’t give you a lot of rhythm, and the weather today was not really good. Those three things are not good.
“Also another thing I forgot. I was a little bit nervous today because it was the first day I played, and the conditions were completely different to the previous days. That makes the match very different. Luckily I was able to win, and tomorrow I have another opportunity. Hopefully I’m ready to do much better than today.”
Nadal will take on Nick Kyrgios next, who has beaten Nadal before – their first meeting at 2014 Wimbledon.
“He’s a very difficult opponent,” said Nadal. “He’s one of the most difficult players you can play. It’s true that I think on clay he’s a very, very tough player. But perhaps here he’s a little bit less difficult to play.
“But here we have the altitude, and that makes him very complicated. He can be even more complicated than a hard court due to the altitude we have here.
“Let’s see what happens tomorrow. If I play late, the conditions will be a little bit slower. But, well, he’s an opponent that’s going to put a lot of pressure on me. He has a very good serve. He’s very aggressive. I have to try to be very solid with my serve, too. I’m going to try to play at a high rhythm.
“I have to play really well to be able to beat him. I think I’m ready to do that. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I think I’m ready to play well because of things in the past months I’ve been playing really well.”
In women’s play, Eugenie Bouchard backed up her win over Maria Sharapova, when she advanced to the quarterfinals when No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber was forced to retire with a hamstring injury with Bouchard up 6-3, 5-0.
“All in all I’m very pleased 9with the win), Bouchard said. “I felt I started off a little bit off ’cause the conditions were so different. It was cold. It was really windy from one side to the other, a strong wind. The atmosphere was different from my previous match.
“I just at the beginning felt a little bit out of it, a couple loose errors. But then after that, I got myself together and got my rhythm, felt pretty awesome out there.”
“My first-round win gave me confidence. Feeling a bit better in practice coming into this week gave me confidence coming in.
I thought it was very important today to keep moving my feet a lot and accelerate a lot.”
Kerber talked about her injury with media: “I know it’s the left hamstring. I just felt it in the last game. I think it was not the last point, but the point, like, before.”
“Then the last point when I served, I was sure I cannot play more because I’m actually not the person who is retiring so often. When I feel it, it’s something.
“But I hope it’s not too serious. So I will see it in the next hours or days.”
Bouchard will be play two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova next. “She’s playing well, in general right now, ” said the Canadian. “Also I think she ended the year really, really well. It’s going to be a good battle. I’ve practiced with her before, played against her. I’ve always enjoyed it because she gets a lot of balls back, but she also goes for it. We both have just battled.
“I just want to have fun. I just want to enjoy it and just go for it, as usual.”
RESULTS – WEDNESDAY, 10 MAY 2017
Singles – Second Round
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d [WC] N. Almagro (ESP) 61 46 75
B. Paire (FRA) d  S. Wawrinka (SUI) 75 46 62
 R. Nadal (ESP) d F. Fognini (ITA) 76(3) 36 64
 M. Raonic (CAN) d G. Muller (LUX) 64 64
 K. Nishikori (JPN) d D. Schwartzman (ARG) 16 60 64
A. Zverev (GER) d  M. Cilic (CRO) 67(3) 63 64
D. Ferrer (ESP) d  J. Tsonga (FRA) w/o (shoulder injury)
 T. Berdych (CZE) d R. Haase (NED) 76(5) 63
 G. Dimitrov (BUL) d I. Karlovic (CRO) 63 75
 N. Kyrgios (AUS) d R. Harrison (USA) 63 63
[LL] B. Coric (CRO) d [Q] P. Herbert (FRA) 75 64
P. Cuevas (URU) d N. Mahut (FRA) 57 64 64
F. Lopez (ESP) d G. Simon (FRA) 63 36 76(3)
Doubles – Second Round
 B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d F. Martin (FRA) / D. Nestor (CAN) 57 62 10-7
 J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) 63 76(4)
 L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA) d [Alt] B. Baker (USA) / N. Monroe (USA) 63 64
 N. Mahut (FRA) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d R. Haase (NED) / A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 76(6) 76(3)
SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, 11 MAY 2017
MANOLO SANTANA start 12:00 noon
WTA – C. Vandeweghe (USA) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – F. Lopez (ESP) vs  N. Djokovic (SRB)
ATP –  A. Murray (GBR) vs [LL] B. Coric (CRO)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP –  N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 9:30 pm
WTA – E. Bouchard (CAN) vs  S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 12:00 noon
ATP –  K. Nishikori (JPN) vs D. Ferrer (ESP)
Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA – K. Bertens (NED) vs A. Sevastova (LAT)
WTA –  K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs [WC] S. Cirstea (ROU)
ATP –  G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs  D. Thiem (AUT)
ATP – [PR] T. Haas (GER) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) vs  F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP)
ESTADIO 3 start 12:00 noon
ATP –  I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Granollers (ESP) vs F. Fognini (ITA) / T. Huey (PHI)
ATP –  M. Raonic (CAN) vs  D. Goffin (BEL)
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP –  T. Berdych (CZE) vs A. Zverev (GER)
ATP – B. Paire (FRA) vs P. Cuevas (URU)
PISTA 4 start 12:00 noon
WTA – A. Groenefeld (GER) / K. Peschke (CZE) vs  Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI)
Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA –  L. Hradecka (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) vs [WC] A. Parra Santonja (ESP) / S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
WTA – After rest –  S. Mirza (IND) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs I. Begu (ROU) / S. Halep (ROU)
WTA – After rest – K. Bertens (NED) / J. Larsson (SWE) vs  T. Babos (HUN) / A. Hlavackova (CZE)