Rome — Novak Djokovik was tested by the 61st rank Tomas Martin Echeverri in a 7-6(5), 6-2 opening win at the Italian Open on Friday.
While aiming for a seventh title on the red clay of Foro Italico in preparation for the French Open, Djokovic recovered from a tough first set twice.
Djokovic was returning from three weeks off due to problems with his right elbow recovering from surgery.
In his last two tournaments on red clay, Djokovic had suffered consecutive early exits.
He lost in the round of 16 in Monte Carlo Lorenzo Musetti, Then dusan lajovic Beating her in the quarterfinals of the Srpska Open in Bosnia and Herzegovina, giving her her first loss to a fellow Serbian in 11 years.
After his serve was broken in the opening game of the match – after which he put a black sleeve on his right elbow – Djokovic trailed 3–1 and finally got back on serve.
Djokovic had two set points on Etcheverry’s serve in the first at 5–4, but Djokovic could not make a comeback when the Argentine served two big serves.
Etcheverry then took a 3–0 lead in the tiebreaker before Djokovic came back again – this time taking control for good.
At Roland Garros, Djokovic will attempt to add to his total of 22 Grand Slam titles and break a tie for the record Rafael Nadal,
Nadal, who holds the record for winning 10 titles in Rome, is not playing because he is troubled by a hip injury, which has put his place for Roland Garros in question.
While it was up and down in the beginning, there were also moments of vintage Djokovic. Like when he produced a delicate forehand stop volley winner to end a long rally in the middle of the first set, after which he pumped his fists and waved his arms to loud cheers from the crowd.
Etcheverry, who has reached clay finals in Santiago and Houston this year, also impressed when he hit a tweener shot between his legs at the start of the second set, to which Djokovic responded with a volley that landed in the net – leaving him smiling. Inspired to shook his head.
Djokovic was unhappy with the condition of the clay at Campo Central and told the chair umpire at one point during the first set that the court was an “absolute disaster”.
“Every bounce is different,” Djokovic said as workers smoothed out the court. “It seems that the soil is too high. Half a meter in, half a meter out.”
Djokovic’s third round opponent will be Grigor Dimitrovwho beat stan wawrinka 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Djokovic, in same half of draw as local hope genetic sinner He was almost unbeatable on his serve when he lost thanasi kokkinakis 6-1, 6-4.
Plus, the Australian qualifier Alexey Popyrin wore on felix auger-aliassim 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in more than three hours – leaving 10th-ranked Auger-Aliassime without a win on clay this season.
italian giants Fabio Fognini beat 6-3, 7-6 (6) miomir kekmanovic By with my 5 year old sonFederico, with him on the court at the statue-lined Pietrangeli Stadium.
Fognini next faces seventh seed holger runewho ousted the 18-year-old French qualifier arthur fils 6-3, 6-3. It’s a potentially explosive matchup, with both Fognini and Rooney known for misbehaving on the court, with raucous fans in Rome.
In women’s action, ranked top inga swotek Beat former French Open finalist 6-0, 6-0 to open his bid for third consecutive Rome title Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova His 12th consecutive win in the Italian capital.
“I feel very confident here,” Swiatek said. “I think these are the right conditions and the right conditions for me to play my solid game.”
paula badosa Defeated jaburLast year’s runner-up, 6-1, 6-4 and seeded ninth Maria Sakkari Beat Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-3.
karolina muchova Top Italian woman seeded 18th eliminated Martina Trevisan3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Sinner won all 16 of her service points in the first set and won 36 of 39 points overall behind strong home support.
There was a group of five orange-clad fans in the upper deck of the Campo Centrale dressed as a carrotAn homage to both Sinner’s red – or almost orange – complexion and how he used to eat vegetables at the start of his career at Change.
The last Italian man to lift the trophy at the Foro Italico was Adriano Panatta in 1976. Raffaella Reghi won the 1985 women’s tournament in Taranto.
“It’s just a very special tournament for me,” Sinner said. “I feel ready to compete. … I feel the affection of the fans. It’s positive pressure.”
Ranked a career-high No. 8 this week, Sinner skipped the Madrid Open to better prepare for this tournament. He arrived in Rome early and worked on his service.
“It feels a little bit of improvement but obviously it’s still not a perfect serve,” said Sinner, noting that he is trying to improve his timing by reducing his ball toss.
Sinner will now play in the Russian qualifiers Alexander Shevchenkowho went ahead Sebastian Baez 6-3, 6-4.