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Djokovic: Remedy for Rome's Rough Courts

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, May 14, 2023

All roads lead to Rome.

Gauff: GOAT Nadal RG Favorite Any Day

The red dirt road to the Rome title can pop with potholes.

Reigning Rome champion Novak Djokovic knows how to navigate the cracks, chasms and notorious bad bounces of the Foro Italico. Djokovic has contested 12 Rome finals and says disruptive divots and unruly bounces are part of the tournament's challenge.

"I mean, Rome never had a great reputation for the quality of the court, to be honest with you," Djokovic told the media after his three-set win over Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

So what's the solution?

How can Rome upgrade the quality of its red clay to diminish bad bounces and replicate Roland Garros and give players ideal preparation for Paris?

World No. 1 Djokovic says there's a simple solution: Stage an intervention.


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Six-time Rome champion Djokovic says call in the clay-court clinicians who care for Roland Garros' courts to remedy Rome's disruptive dirt.

"Look, it's part of the clay court season, so we have to accept the fact that you're going to have lots of uneven, irregular bounces," Djokovic said. "In Rome, it has been happening quite a few years.

"Actually I remember maybe about 10 years, someone told me they brought Roland Garros people in, and that year the court was best.

"I don't know why they don't call them again because obviously they're the best clay court specialists in the world."

The 22-time Grand Slam champion says he doesn't blame the Rome court crew, whom he considers friends, for the sometimes choppy clay.

Rather, Djokovic believes lack of consistent play to firm up the courts before the tournament begins could be the culprit.

Last year, Wimbledon broke with a long tradition and permitted select players to practice on Centre Court before The Championships began in an effort to break in the grass and prevent slips and slides some players experienced in early rounds.

"That is interesting would be to understand how much tennis they're playing on the court actually before the tournament starts," Djokovic told the media in Rome. "I think the other year I was asking, and they were not playing much at all.

"They played pre-quallies. If you don't use the court, and you have a clay court, these things happen. The court breaks. You have many holes. You have uneven surface, really bad bounces, a lot of clay."

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty