Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Djokovic loses at Rome Masters, hurting French Open preparations

May 18, 2013 -- Updated 0011 GMT (0811 HKT)
Novak Djokovic suffered his second early exit in as many clay court tournaments.
Novak Djokovic suffered his second early exit in as many clay court tournaments.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tomas Berdych beats Novak Djokovic for only the second time in 15 attempts
  • Djokovic fails to serve out the quarterfinal match in Rome at 5-3 in the second set
  • Rafael Nadal faces Berdych in the last four after beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer
  • Maria Sharapova withdraws from her quarterfinal because of illness

(CNN) -- When Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal's eight-year reign at the Monte Carlo Masters in April, it marked the perfect start to the world No. 1's clay-court season.

But Djokovic's ensuing performances on clay haven't been anywhere near as impressive.

After losing his opening match to Grigor Dimitrov at the Madrid Masters last week, Djokovic fell in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters on Friday against a player who he previously held a 13-1 record against.

Read: Djokovic triumphs in Monte Carlo

Tomas Berdych rallied from a set down to beat Djokovic 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, denting the Serb's preparations for the French Open, which begins May 26. Djokovic couldn't serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set.

"I lost the concentration," Djokovic told reporters. "I started playing more defensively. I played a bad game at 5-3 and the match turned around. He started playing more confidently, stepping into the court and taking advantage of his opportunities.

The first diva of women's tennis
Nadal challenger makes a splash

"It's a very strange situation. I played very well and was two points from winning. Then the entire match changed and I was a different player."

Djokovic's defeat opened the door for Nadal and the defending champion continued his mastery over fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Nadal prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to improve to 16-1 against Ferrer on clay -- Ferrer won their first match in 2004 -- and set up a showdown with Berdych in a repeat of the 2010 Wimbledon final, which Nadal won.

If Nadal claims the title in Rome, he will leapfrog Ferrer to No. 4 in the rankings in time for the French Open seedings.

Frenchman Benoit Paire beat Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-0 to advance to his first Masters semifinal and will face Roger Federer in the last four.

Meanwhile in the women's draw, a repeat of the Madrid final between the world's top two failed to materialize when Maria Sharapova withdrew from her quarterfinal with home favorite Sara Errani due to illness.

Sharapova, the reigning French Open champion, lost to Serena Williams in straight sets in the Spanish capital.

Beating the 'French Open curse'
Sharapova prepares for Roland Garros

"I was already a bit off in Madrid and played through it and it came back last night," Sharapova said. "And I got sick again and it's not smart to compete again two or three rounds to win the tournament and with Paris starting next week.

"The doctor thinks I didn't take it easy last week and if I don't take care of it now, then it might worsen. It is one of those things, and the body is not ready and with a bigger goal around the corner it's important to make the right and smart decisions. I have a lot of clay matches and so this is not lacking before the French Open."

Read: Williams cruises in Madrid

Williams crushed Carla Suarez Navarro in under an hour to extend her winning streak to a personal best 22 matches and next meets Romanian qualifier Simona Halep in the semifinals.

Errani, runner-up to Sharapova at Roland Garros, confronts Victoria Azarenka in the other semifinal.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1208 GMT (2008 HKT)
Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
French Tennis player Rene Lacoste, one of France's 'Four Musketeers' who won the Davis Cup in 1932, at Wimbledon. He is wearing his embroidered crocodile motif. Original Publication: People Disc - HH0434 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0636 GMT (1436 HKT)
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
September 14, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
ADVERTISEMENT