Novak Djokovic has won six times in Rome

Rome (AFP) - Novak Djokovic fought his way into the third round of the Italian Open on Friday after beating Tomas Etcheverry 7-5 (76), 6-2 in a surprisingly tight encounter.

A six-time winner in Rome, Djokovic was made to work by Argentina’s Etcheverry, prevailing in one hour, 51 minutes to set up a third round clash with Grigor Dimitrov who beat Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day.

Djokovic hasn’t been knocked out of an ATP tour event at the first attempt since the Monte Carlo Masters last year, that tournament just his second of last season following his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

But still nursing an injury to his right elbow he had to battle his way past Etcheverry, winning the first set via a tie-break before finally ensuring passage into the next round.