The Italian Open kicked off strong Monday.
None of the really big names were in action, but there were still plenty of great matches on both the men's and women's sides.
American John Isner rallied from a set down for a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber. Nicolas Almagro won 6-0 in the third over Marin Cilic. Radek Stepanek rallied for a three-set win over Juan Ignacio Chela. Other winners on the men's side included Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils and Bernard Tomic.
It's nice to be able to put all the debate over the blue clay in Madrid behind us, and focus on good solid clay-court tennis. The wind seemed to be a big factor in Rome on Monday.
Roger Federer, according to a story on Tennis.com, said he wasn't sure if he would play in Rome this week. If he doesn't play in Rome it would be a shame, but also understandable. Federer is getting older, and the back-to-back tournaments is tough on everyone.
Another good thing about this week is there is more TV and Internet coverage of the women's tournament. Last week's coverage in Madrid was as awful as the blue clay itself. Again, it's great that the focus can be put back on the tennis with the French Open just a few weeks away.
In women's action Monday, Julia Goerges survived a scare from Aleksandra Wozniak with a 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-3 victory. Ana Ivanovic also won, 6-4, 6-3 over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Angelique Kerber won in three sets, while Francesca Schiavone was upset by Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-4.
Other winners on the women's side included: Christina McHale, Vania King and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
There should be some great matches tomorrow. On the men's side, Novak Djokovic plays Tomic, while Andy Murray plays David Nalbandian. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays Viktor Troicki, and David Ferrer plays Verdasco.