‘Doesn’t look good’: Djokovic at centre of ‘worrying’ drama

Novak Djokovic has battled through a fresh injury scare to book his spot in the next round of the Italian Open in Rome after a less than convincing display against Argentine Tomas Etcheverry. The 22-time grand slam champion looked well short of his best despite recording a 7-5 (7/6), 6-2 win the clay court lead-up tournament before the French Open.

A six-time winner in Rome, the Serbian tennis star was made to work by the 61st-ranked Argentine but ultimately prevailed in one hour and 51 minutes to set up a third round clash with Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Stan Wawrinka in their second round clash. Djokovic and his legion of fans will no doubt be concerned by the elbow injury that again caused the Serb some issues in Rome.

Djokovic got off to an uncharacteristically poor start after dropping serve in the first game, before putting on a protective elbow sleeve in a sign of the obvious discomfort he’s experiencing with the injury. The World No.1 struggled through the first set off the back of a staggering 21 unforced errors.

The first set hinged on a scrappy game six, in which Djokovic broke to level the scores following a battle at deuce. Djokovic then appeared unwell at 5-5 in the first set and took a tablet in the changeover.

From there, the set went with serves until Djokovic won the final four points in the tie-break to take the opening stanza. Djokovic then kicked up a level, breaking serve in the first and seventh games of the second set to give the match a more straightforward look than Etcheverry’s performance deserved.

Djokovic – who has not been knocked out of an ATP Tour event at the first attempt since the Monte Carlo Masters last year – admitted after the match that he is still some way off where he hopes to be for the French Open, where the Serb will by vying for a men’s record 23rd grand slam singles title.


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