Djokovic makes winning return as Federer leaves home for Rome

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

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.

"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."

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"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.


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