Almagro adds to Djokovic’s clay concerns

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IOL pic may8 tennis nicolas almagro Reuters Nicolas Almagro of Spain returns the ball to Santiago Giraldo of Colombia during their men's singles match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament.

Madrid - Spanish clay-court specialist Nicolas Almagro did little on Monday to ease world number one Novak Djokovic's concerns about the controversial blue clay court at the Madrid Open after beating Santiago Giraldo 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Djokovic gets his first opportunity to play on the surface when he starts his title defence against qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver on Tuesday after a two-week layoff.

Eleventh seed Almagro came back to beat the Colombian qualifier for his 17th clay-court win of the season, more than any other player on the ATP world tour this year, but was far from happy with the new courts.

“Being so close to Roland Garros, we would prefer to play on red clay. This surface isn't in the best of conditions,” Almagro told reporters at Madrid's Magic Box Arena. “It is very slippery and I hope there aren't any injuries.”

Djokovic lost to his great rival Rafael Nadal in his last outing in the final of the Monte Carlo Open in April but returns to a venue where he beat the world number two in last year's final.

He will play another Spaniard in the second round in Gimeno-Traver, who needed two hours and 24 minutes to see off fellow qualifier Victor Hanescu of Romania 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 on Monday.

American wild card Ryan Harrison was celebrating his 20th birthday on his debut at the tournament and beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6, 7-6 to set up a meeting with fourth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Russian qualifier Igor Andreev overcame former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets and his compatriot Mikhail Youzhny progressed past Javier Marti.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis fell to wild card Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 while Colombia's Alejandro Falla and Serb Viktor Troicki also went through. - Reuters

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