Skip to main content

Djokovic makes winning return as Federer leaves home for Rome

May 13, 2014 -- Updated 2216 GMT (0616 HKT)
Novak Djokovic came through what he described as some of the toughest conditions of his career.
Novak Djokovic came through what he described as some of the toughest conditions of his career.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Novak Djokovic beats Radek Stepanek at Rome Masters after nearly a month out with injury
  • World No. 2 takes 97 minutes to win in straight sets
  • Federer explains decision to leave home for Rome
  • Swiss became father to twin boys last week

(CNN) -- Novak Djokovic made a winning return from a wrist injury when beating Radek Stepanek at the Rome Masters but the Serb described the conditions as some of the most testing he's faced.

Playing his first match since losing in Monte Carlo to Roger Federer on April 19, the second seed dropped serve three times but beat the Czech 6-3 7-5.

Despite Stepanek's resistance, the two-time winner of the event found the gusting wind to be an even bigger obstacle.

Read: Djokovic pulls out of Madrid with wrist problem

"It was one of the most difficult conditions I've played in my life," Djokovic told the ATP website.

Williams' father: We're too soft on kids
What happened inside James Blake's mansion?
Tennis star Elena Baltacha dies at 30
In the footsteps of 'Grand Slam Stan'
A game-changer for tennis?

"When it's very windy on court, especially on clay, the clay gets in your eyes. It was very difficult to get any kind of rhythm."

"But the positive is that I managed to stay mentally tough until the end and win."

Watched by new coach Boris Becker, the 26-year-old needed one hour and 37 minutes to win through as he finetunes preparations for the French Open, which starts on May 25.

The world number two missed last week's Madrid Open because of his the trouble in his right wrist and there had been some expectations that Federer would be a headline absentee in the Italian capital.

Surprise Return

The Swiss welcomed the second set of twins into his life on Tuesday last week after wife Mirka gave birth to Leo and Lenny, who join elder sisters Myla and Charlene.

The 32-year-old only arrived in the Italian capital on Monday after being packed off -- to his own surprise -- by his family.

"It happened all of sudden on Thursday," Federer, who plays on Wednesday, told reporters.

"I spoke to the team, I spoke to Mirka, asked all of them what they thought I should do and they said too quickly that I should come here and play.

"So 'ok, if you don't want me around, I'll go away!'" joked the Swiss. "It's hard to leave all the family, but I'll see them soon."

Read: Doubles time for ecstatic Federer

The world number four revealed that he fully expects the twins to soon be joining the rest of the family on the ATP World Tour.

"Clearly, it's going to be so much work with four kids on the road, but I feel like we're going to be able to handle it," he said.

"My wife's unbelievably supportive, and she's so good with the kids. I try my best every day as well, when I can, to help. I'm there every day, always with the kids, and I see them so often.

"It's something I'm really going to look forward to, spending this quality time with them, as we travel the world and are in different countries and cities. It's going to be actually very exciting."

Federer will meet France's Jeremy Chardy as he returns to the court just eight days after the expansion of his family.

He has not played since losing last month's Monte Carlo final to compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat qualifier Pere Riba 6-0 6-3, registering 50 winners in a victory that lasted as many minutes.

In the women's first round, there was local pride as Camilla Giorgi surprised ninth seed Dominika Cibulkova while Sara Errani also made it through, beating Chanelle Scheepers in straight sets.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
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