ROME – Novak Djokovic marked his return from a right wrist injury by beating Czech veteran Radek Stepanek 6-3, 7-5 in the second round of the Italian Open on Tuesday, while Italian hope Andreas Seppi complained about a decisive time violation in a loss to Tommy Haas.
With both new coach Boris Becker and long-time adviser Marian Vajda on hand, Djokovic showed no signs of pain after withdrawing from last week’s Madrid Open.
The second-ranked Serb’s only trouble came as he attempted to close the match out, dropping his serve twice late in the second set before eventually finishing it off.
“I expected to be a little bit rusty on the court, the conditions didn’t help, but generally it was a good win,” Djokovic said, alluding to the swirling wind inside the Foro Italico stadium. “I’m happy with that and hope to elevate my performance in the next one.”
Djokovic, a two-time Rome champion, committed just nine unforced errors to Stepanek’s 27.
It was a sharp contrast from Djokovic’s last match, when he lost to Roger Federer in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals last month, when he had his wrist heavily strapped and was unable to serve or return at his usual level.
Also advancing was Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who routed Spanish qualifier Pere Riba 6-0, 6-3.
In first-round action, the 15th-seeded Haas overcame Seppi 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
The 34th-ranked Seppi couldn’t believe it when he received his second time violation while serving at 3-3, 30-40 in the third set, following his first serve. The second violation results in a serve being taken away, which meant a double fault for Seppi and he then went on to lose the final three games.
“I’ve never received a time violation in my life,” he said. “I was just waiting because the fans were making a bit of noise. . . . It’s scandalous. . . . And the first one was for nothing, too. (Haas) hit a drop shot and I had to walk back to get the balls. It was really uncalled for.”
In first-round women’s play, Italian wild-card entry Camila Giorgi upset ninth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) in a match delayed briefly due to rain; 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy eliminated Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 7-5, 6-3; and 13th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro eased past Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-2.
There was also an upset in the second round, as Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic rallied past seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The 22-year-old Giorgi, who reached the round of 16 at the U.S. Open last year as a qualifier, showed off her attacking game, stepping into the court to whip winners into the corners at every opportunity.
Making her Rome main-draw debut, Giorgi had loud support on the picturesque Pietrangeli court, which is lined with neo-classical statues.
“The pressure is positive. It’s great that the fans come to see you,” Giorgi said. “Playing at home happens only once per year.”