Facing the Idol: Etcheverry's Melbourne Showdown with Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic will face Tomas Etcheverry in the third round in Melbourne

by Jovica Ilic
Facing the Idol: Etcheverry's Melbourne Showdown with Novak Djokovic
© Alex Pantling / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Tomas Martin Etcheverry will face his idol Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena during the third round of the Australian Open. The Argentine defeated two veterans in the opening two rounds, ousting Andy Murray and Gael Monfils to arrange the third meeting with his favorite player.

Tomas Martin admitted it's always lice to play against Novak. The lower-ranked player will try to leave his admiration for world no. 1 aside and challenge him with a high quality tennis. Etcheverry earned his first ATP point in the first week of October 2016.

Djokovic was world no. 1 that week, standing 12899 points ahead of the Argentine! Tomas Martin has compared them ever simce, reducing the gap and joining Novak in the top-30 last year. Djokovic worked hard to maintain on the title defense course in Melbourne, ousting Dino Prizmic and Alexei Popyrin in four sets after playing below his best.

Novak has been dealing with a minor virus, and he hopes to improve his physical shape and play better tennis against Tomas Martin.

Novak Djokovic, Rome 2023© Alex Pantling / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Tomas Martin Etcheverry will face his idol Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena,

Djokovic and Martin played their first match in Rome last year, with the Serb scoring a 7-6, 6-2 triumph in an hour and 51 minutes.

Tomas Martin pushed Novak to the limits in the opener, leading 3-1 before world no. 1 pulled the break back and clinched the tie break 7-5 for a boost. Etcheverry broke in the encounter's first game and held two times for 3-1.

Djokovic saved a game point in game six and pulled the break back after the rival's loose forehand. Novak served well in games seven and nine, creating two set points on the return at 5-4 with a backhand winner. Tomas Martin fired service winners to defend them and held for more drama.

Djokovic trailed 3-0 and 5-3 in the tie break, bouncing back and clinching it 7-5 after Etcheverry's backhand mistake. Novak earned an early break and moved 3-1 up. The Serb shifted into a higher gear from 3-2, taking 12 of the final 13 points for a winning start.

Two rivals met again at the Paris Masters at the end of the season, and Novak ousted Tomas Martin 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes. Djokovic had the edge on an indoor court, playing well on serve and return and leaving Etcheverry behind.

The Serb dropped 14 points in nine service games and saved the only break point offered to the Argentine. Tomas Martin needed that one and more to stay competitive, losing serve three times to end his campaign. Etcheverry stayed in touch in the first part of the opening set, reaching 3-3 after deuce.

Novak grabbed the seventh game with a forehand winner and stepped in on the return in the next one, seizing the second break chance after Tomas Martin's forehand error and moving 5-3 in front.

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2024© Daniel Pockett / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Djokovic landed an ace in game nine for 6-3 and a boost.

Novak broke again at the beginning of the second set and saved a break point in game two with a crafty forehand winner. The Serb clinched another break in game five, moving 4-1 up and closer to the finish line. Novak held at 15 in game six for 5-1 and served for the victory in game eight.

Djokovic converted the third match point after Etcheverry's loose backhand, sealing the deal and beating the Argentine for the second time in as many duels. "Novak is my idol. Playing against him is always nice, and this will be our third duel.

I have to keep my level high and believe in me if I want to challenge him," Tomas Martin Etcheverry said.

Novak Djokovic