Rome Masters 1000: Etcheverry puts Djokovic in difficulty, who recovers and wins the first set

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Thomas Etcheverry is facing one of the greatest challenges a tennis player can face this Friday: coping Novak Djokovic, winner of 22 Grand Slams and one of the best rackets of all time. The player from La Plata, 61st in the standings, and the Serbian face off for the second round of the Rome Masters 1000in which Freight defends the title won last year. The Argentine knows that the challenge is enormous, but he has already warned that he will come out to fight and, above all, to enjoy a match that he has been waiting for for some time. Currentlyafter a very close first set, she leads the world one by 7-6 (5).

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Etcheverry surprised in the first game by breaking Djokovic’s serve, who comes after a short period of inactivity. And he ratified the lead by sustaining, with a little work, the service of him. It wasn’t until the third game that Nole was able to start adding, but the player from La Plata continued to manage the lead to be up 3-1 in the standings.

The number one in the world immediately brought the differences closer and returned the pressure to the Argentine. And he continued to press Etcheverry’s round of serve, who squandered three chances to close the game and, after a double fault and a long ball, ended up giving up to make the set 3-3. And the Serbian, a bit obsessed with the excessive amount of brick dust on the pitch, started the engines. So, unceremoniously, he held serve to take the lead for the first time in the Roman afternoon.

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However, far from dying out, the Argentine reset his lead and backed up his serve to put the pot four games wide. Unwilling to concede anything to the European, Tommy was willing to answer the stick-to-stick play brought by his winning rival, who used his greater consistency to get back ahead in the pot to finish 5-4.

The tenth play placed Etcheverry on the ledge. An unforced error sends him running from behind, but an ace serves to balance the story. For a while. It is that another mistake by the Argentine and a parallel setback by Nole gave him two set points. Etcheverry put them off with two strong first serves. A wide ball from Djokovic and a shot from rebounds that closes on the fly help him make it 5-5.

Far from collapsing due to wasted opportunities, the Serbian takes the lead again for 6-5 and puts the pressure back on the Argentine with an almost perfect serve. Naturally, in between, the Serbian, who was constantly touching his abdominal area, took a pill that one of his assistants brought him.

Djokovic had to push himself to finish the first set.  Photo: AFP

Djokovic had to push himself to finish the first set. Photo: AFP

In this context, Etcheverry was tasked with bringing the first chapter to Serbian and fulfilled his mission. Quickly going up 40-0, she failed to defuse a majestic comeback from her opponent, but a smash after a run to the net allowed her to take the first set to a tie-break.

The story started well for the Argentine with a mini break. And he continued better with an ace on the Tee -the third of the set-. Not to mention when he contained Djokovic’s attacks until the Grand Slam winner sent him wide again. Three to zero and a surprise at the Foro Italico.

The run was interrupted by a good serve from Nole which made everything easier for him and, immediately after, with a good angle he took Tommy off the court to get closer. And just before the change of sides, Etcheverry pulled long so that his rival equaled the tiebreak. Has it come down? None of that, the Argentinian played a blast, held on and took the lead again 4-3. Not to mention when a cross backhand from the European flew and flew to add yet another mini-break. Nole revives thanks to a late right foot that goes wide, just a little, in Etcheverry.

Etcheverry gave it his all in a very close first set.  Photo: AFP

Etcheverry gave it his all in a very close first set. Photo: AFP

The Argentinian had two serves to close the set. However, the man from Belgrade pressed and found his prize to get 5-5. And he hit it again with a comeback wave to reach his third set point. This time he didn’t fail. Ball remained in the net for the Argentine and Djokovic, he finished 7-5 and with 7-6 he finished.

Already in the second chapter, Etcheverry started with his service. And the Serbian, while gesturing and looking annoyed, put his foot on the accelerator and got away quickly. And that break was quickly ratified by Djokovic, who returned to clutch the pins despite the resistance of the Argentine, who ran everything and missed a couple of balls for nothing.

Fortunately, Tommy was able to stop the storm and supported by a couple of good first serves, he was able to start from scratch and go up 2-1. Djokovic, beyond a silly mistake after a big urgent nap by the Argentine, accelerates in his turn of service and makes it 3-1. End of the story? No, Etcheverry has once again allied himself with his serve to bring the goals closer.

the previous

Playing with Djokovic is a dream come true. It was something I always wanted…I really wanted to be able to play against him sometime. I’ve been following him since I was very young. I was born and raised watching him play and win. Since I first grabbed a racket, it was already at the top,” he said with a laugh in a chat with ATP extension. com.

“When I take the field I’ll be in front of one of the best in history… but I’ll go out to give my all, I will try to disrespect that and encourage myself to go for everything. And go out to win. It caught me in a very good tennis moment, the best of my career, so that makes it even more special and it’s something positive. I will have a lot of fun and try to focus on myself,” he added.

Etcheverry celebrating his first ATP point in October 2016. Photo Twitter

Etcheverry celebrating his first ATP point in October 2016. Photo Twitter

Djokovic isn’t just an idol for Etcheverry. It is the yardstick by which the player from La Plata has been measuring his evolution for years. It’s when he got his first ATP point, at the age of 17 and after beating the Peruvian in the first round of the ITF in Salinas Andre Ku Meza in October 2016 Serbian was already number one.

Tommy, who started as a race and was fired in the second round, celebrated that victory in a special way. On a sheet he wrote “Novak Djokovic 12,900 points; Tomás Etcheverry 1 point. 12,899 to go” and a picture was taken, which some time later appeared on social networks.

“My coach at the time, Luciano Cabeiro, had the idea of ​​doing it… to motivate me. It was something original. We laughed a lot,” the Argentine recalled. “When I hit the Top 100 I did it again, it was worth it.”

That second postcard arrived in April of last year. After playing the final of Mexico City Challengerwhich he lost to the Swiss Marc Andrea Huesler, Etcheverry jumped from 106th to 95th place and entered the top 100 for the first time. And the same celebration came out: “Novak Djokovic 8,420, Tomás Etcheverry 714. 7,760 to go”. “I’m getting closer, Nole,” he wrote on Instagram along with the photo and emoji of a laughing face.

The curious celebrations from La Plata reached Djokovic, who this Thursday, in an interview with the press in Rome, laughed: “I’ve seen your posts reduce the difference in points between us. He has the possibility of reducing the difference tomorrow” .

“It’s a good story. I haven’t had the chance to talk to him or see him play much. He’s a young player, new to the tour. But he seems like a very nice guy. Argentinian and Argentina has a great tennis tradition that goes back to many years ago. I wish him well except tomorrow night,” added the number one, amused.

The duel will, of course, be the first between the two. Despite the first meeting Last year they met at Roland Garros and the Argentine was encouraged to ask Nole for a photo, which he shared on Instagram.

Etcheverry comes from the defeat of the French 7-6 (9-7) and 6-3 Luca Van Asche85th in the standings, in what was his absolute debut in the tournament played at the Foro Italico and which is the last important stage before Roland Garros.

The man from La Plata, who reached his first ATP final this year on the slow courts of Santiago de Chile and Houston, will try to beat Djokovic to access the third round of a Masters 1000 for the first time. In his previous three participations at this level, throughout this season, add one defeat in the first round (Indian Wells) and two in the second (Miami and Madrid).

Djokovic, seeded and free in the first round, will try to take the first step to defend his title and reach the French Grand Slam in the best possible way. The Serbian missed the Masters 1000 in Madrid last week with a sore right elbow, but arrived in the Italian capital fully recovered and has been training in excellent form over the last few days.

It will be a special tournament for Nole, who already knows that next Monday he will lose the first place in the standings at the hands of Carlos Alcaraz.

He has to defend 1,000 points and at best will keep the 6,775 he has today. And the Spaniard, who puts nothing at stake and with the title won on Sunday in magic box He was five from the advantage, he will only overcome it by jumping on the pitch and collecting the 10 that the match gives to those who play the initial round.

Etcheverry and Djokovic at Roland Garros 2022. Instagram photo @tomasetcheverry123

Etcheverry and Djokovic at Roland Garros 2022. Instagram photo @tomasetcheverry123

Etcheverry won’t be the only Argentinian on the pitch this Friday. He will make his debut in the first round Francis Cerundolo, seeded 24th. The porteño starts his way in the tournament -from 6 in our country- against the Chinese Yib Wu57th, who won in the first instance 3-6, 6-3 and 6-3 against the Frenchman Richard Gasquet, 44th.

After that game Sebastian Baez40th in the standings, he will face the Russian Alexander Shevchenko, 93°. The man from Buenos Aires arrives beating the Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas 7-5 and 6-3, 97th. And his rival will play his first match in the main draw of the tournament, as he had lost in the last qualifying round, but broke even at the last moment due to the injury defeat of Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.

Source: Clarin

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