Novak Djokovic hangs tough beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry in Rome

Novak Djokovic in action ahead of the ATP Rome Masters.

Top seed and six-time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina 7-6 6-2 in the second round of the Italian Open on Friday. The match lasted for around two hours with the 35-year-old world #1 needing to overcome stiff early resistance from the Argentine before ultimately winning comfortably enough. Djokovic will next face Grigor Dimitrov in the third round on Sunday.

Djokovic rallies in the opener

Etcheverry started the match on a promising note, getting an early break of serve and playing his strokes forcefully to finish points off quickly. However, Etcheverry struggled to marry his aggressive intent with consistency and, as the set progressed, he adopted a more conservative approach. That was always likely to spell trouble and the Serbian duly began to assert himself as the rallies lengthened.

Djokovic was hitting his forehand with purpose, breaking back to level the opening set. However, to his credit, Etcheverry did not take another backwards step, forcing a tiebreak. In fact, he forced the great Serb to come to the forecourt at times to try to shorten the rallies. However, although Etcheverry won the first three points in the tiebreak, unforced errors cost him as Djokovic rallied to win it 7-5.

Djokovic dominates in the second

The lack of venom in Etcheverry’s first serve caused him real problems in the second set. It was always going to be difficult for the Argentine against a returner of Djokovic’s calibre and when the world’s best raised his level, Etcheverry struggled to live with his opponent. Djovokic broke Etcheverry’s serve twice to race towards the line. Etcheverry won only 60% of the points on his first serve in the match, with that number going down sharply in the second set. In comparison, Djokovic managed a much better 79%, which ultimately proved crucial.

Main photo credit:  Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports