Novak Djokovic could “struggle” when he steps onto court to take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Italian Open last-16 today because he will be in an unusual situation, according to Mark Petchey. The world No 1 is usually one of the headliners at every event he plays, which means he is given an evening slot on the schedule.
However, the Italian Open has placed his showdown with Davidovich Fokina first up on centre court in Rome.
That means his match will get underway at 10am local time (9am BST) which brings many problems for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
Not only will his routine be broken up, but he will also have to deal with the glaring sun.
And Petchey reckons Djokovic may be affected as he tried to adjust to the new conditions.
“I don’t think he is going to be delighted because the sun, when they are teeing it up at 10am, is going to be particularly awkward,” he told Amazon Prime.
“He is not going to love the fact he is on early.
“He has been practising at that time this week but the sun is particularly awkward for an hour and a bit.
“You pretty much have to kick it in and he is somebody that has struggled with that in the past.
“These are the little nuances that you have in these tournaments. Suddenly the schedule of play comes out and that is not ideal for him.”
Fellow pundit Daniela Hantuchova also thinks Djokovic will find it strange getting out of bed so early.
She said: “It will be interesting to see how Novak handles that early rise because I know he likes his sleep.
“When you are on at 10am it means you have to get up at 6.30am so it is going to be a rough morning.”
Djokovic is not the only key player who may struggle with the schedule as Rafael Nadal has also tabled complaints.
He wrapped up his demanding win over Jannik Sinner at 9.40pm local time last night and he will be back on court at 1pm this afternoon against Denis Shapovalov.
“I am not happy that they put me on the third turn without a not before because It’s twenty to ten and I can play tomorrow at one,” Nadal said.
“I’ll have to be ready at least by 11:30. It’s exaggerated, really. It’s not right, it’s badly done, I say it as I think it is.”