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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday May 12, 2023

Novak Djokovic

Six-time champ Djokovic struggled for a bit then hit his stride in his Rome opener.

Photo Source: TTV

Novak Djokovic has passed his first test in Rome.

The six-time champion started slow but finished strong as he notched his 65th career victory at the Foro Italico, 7-6(5), 6-3 over Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Tennis Express

Djokovic had his share of struggles in the opening set, as he wore a sleeve to provide comfort to his right elbow and also seemed to be dealing with an illness. But he rallied from a break down, then fought back fromm 3-0 and 5-3 down in the opening tiebreak to take the set from the 23-year-old.

Djokovic improves to 3-2 on clay this season, and wins his first match on the red stuff since he fell to Dusan Lajovic at Banja Luka. He will bid to win two in a row on the surface for the first time in 2023 when he faces Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.

Was it Djokovic’s best clay court match of 2023? “I didn't play too many,” he said on court with a smile. “Bot can say it's the best one so far.”

The World No.1 improved to 65-10 lifetime at Rome. The defending champion, who topped Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year’s final, has won six and a row at the Foro Italico.

But he knows there is still much work to be done if he is to be in good enough form to claim his third Roland-Garros title next month in Paris.

“Still it's still not to the desired level,” he said. “Still finding the shots, finding that groove on the court.”

Djokovic hit 21 unforced errors in the opening set, but just nine in the second set as he raised his level.

“It's always a little bit tricky playing somebody for the first time,” he said. “[Etcheverry is] a clay court specialist and he started better than I did. I started pretty slow but I kind of found my groove towards the end of the first.

“Second set was good, especially the last, I would say, three four games. I'm happy with the way I closed out the match.”


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