Four-time Rome Masters champion Novak Djokovic continues the search for his long lost form as he takes on Roberto Bautista Agut, the player who beat him in straight sets in their last meeting at the Shanghai Masters last year.
Last year the Serb was the undoubtedly the best player in the world, having a tremendous winning a record in winning his sixth Australian Open title and managing to bag his fourth Indian Wells alongside his second Madrid Masters title.
Making it to the first semi-final since January in Madrid, the Serb has failed to find something good from his previous draws in facing Nicolas Almagro and Feliciano Lopez before his luck shined as Kei Nishikori stayed a put on playing further giving him a wild card to the semis. He combated in a rather tough match, where he managed three-set wins in Monte Carlo over Gilles Simon, thus asssuming it safe to say that Djokovic is still a far way from his best.
Djokovic started slowly in the opener against Aljaz Bedene, where quickly fell prey and went a break behind, but he did recover quickly and dominated the rest of the first set tiebreak before clinching the match away with a 7-6(2) 6-2 victory.
On the contrary, Bautista Agut enjoyed a great start to the season, bagging his fifth ATP title in Chennai and managing to compete in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open and reaching the semi-finals in Sofia.
Apart from making it to a semi-final finish in Munich, Bautista Agut’s clay season has been a hit and miss case, losing in the second round of Monte Carlo and adding to his dismay was his early exit in the second round of Barcelona followed by a very close defeated last week in the opening round.
Djokovic has a tremendous record in Rome, winning the title 4 times and finishing as a runner-up thrice, while his counter-part is happily making it to the third round at the Foro Italico for the first time in his career.
The Serb has failed to impress on court for almost a year now and Agut can manage to rally with him, in addition to the exquisite placements he is known for, he could undoubtedly be hard to be overthrown, and pressure hasn’t been the Serb’s cup of tea lately. But on the flip side, Djokovic is entering the match with a mental advantage for beating Bautista Agut for a total of four times in all their previous meetings.