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Djokovic to return in Rome, Federer likely to miss

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is expected to return from injury at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, while Roger Federer may miss.

Serbian world number two Djokovic pulled out of the Madrid Open due to a hand injury, a serious concern just weeks out from Roland Garros.

Ahead of the French Open starting May 25, Djokovic's physiotherapist Pavel Kolar said the six-time grand slam champion was expected to feature at the ATP 1000 event in Rome.

"He should be ready for Rome, that's the plan. The French Open should follow," Kolar said.

The French Open is the only grand slam Djokovic is yet to win, mainly due to Rafael Nadal's dominance on clay.

Djokovic won the title in Italy in 2011 and 2008 but every other year since 2005 has been Nadal's – including thrashing Federer in the 2013 final.

Along with two titles this year, Djokovic also reached the semi-final in Monte Carlo – his only clay-court tournament in 2014.

Federer is a certain starter for the French Open but whether he features in an event before then is unclear.

The Swiss 17-time grand slam winner welcomed a second set of twins into the world, leading to his withdrawal from the Madrid Open.

The health of his newborns and wife Mirka will decide whether Federer features in Rome – or anywhere else – ahead of Roland Garros.

With Djokovic returning from injury and Federer likely missing, the title shapes as Nadal's to lose once more.

The Spanish world number one is enjoying a strong run in Madrid after disappointing quarter-final exits in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

Czech Tomas Berdych and Spaniard David Ferrer are others doing well ahead of a trip to Italy.

But a couple of the world's top 10 will be desperate to go deep.

British world number eight Andy Murray was knocked out in the third round in Madrid, while French world number 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made a second-round exit.

Australian Open champion and world number three Stanislas Wawrinka only made the second round, but none of the trio are likely to be able to stop Nadal.

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