Novak needed some time to find the rhythm but defeated Etcheverry in straight sets
On a cold and humid evening at the Foro Italico, the defending champion had to fight hard to tame a brave Tomas Martin Etcheverry 7-6(5) 6-2. Novak Djokovic still looked slightly troubled by his recent elbow problems and opted for a long sleeve to keep it warmer and on top of it, he needed a pill for some stomach issues. But even that could not stop his fighting spirit.
The young Argentine came out on court with a brave attitude, feeling no awe while playing on Campo Centrale against one of the greatest players in the history of the sport and in front of a very special spectator – as just before the match Djokovic met with Jose Mourinho. The baseline aggression of Etcheverry gave him the first break of the match, but the world number 1 fought back and hanged on his serve to reach the tiebreak.
The youngster once again was the first one to pull away, but Nole closed once more and showed why he has been on top of the sport for so long: on the key moment, at 5-5, a stunning return just inches from the baseline gave him the mini-break worth a set point. A moment later, the Serb was sitting on the bench with a first set in his pockets.
Djokovic started the second set determined of not spending any unnecessary time on court any longer and with an early break he did not allow Etcheverry to come closer again. A good performance overall for the Serb, who will surely look for a higher gear in the next round as Grigor Dimitrov showed some good form today to defeat Stan Wawrinka.
How it started How it’s going pic.twitter.com/HUkccDOePy— Internazionali BNL d'Italia (@InteBNLdItalia) May 12, 2023