‘Nole’, who has suffered from his right elbow in recent weeks, will play for a place in the quarterfinals with the British Cameron Norrie (13th) or the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics (92nd).
Slump in the second set
In his debut in Rome Djokovic had regretted a “slow” start in the second round against the Argentine Tomás Etcheverry (61st), 7-6 (7/5) and 6-2. He was not able to correct himself this Sunday and began giving up serve, but reacted quickly with two consecutive breaks to win the first set.
The Serbian, who will lose his place as world number 1 at the end of the tournament to Carlos Alcaraz, continued to be in tune at the start of the second, with a new ‘break’.
But then the Bulgarian, known as ‘Mini Federer’ in his early days, recovered his level by winning 12 consecutive points to take the duel to the deciding set against a Djokovic who lacked spark in his travels.
His grace ended here and Djokovic sealed an early break in the third to gallop to the round of 16 after winning back-to-back matches on clay for the first time this season.
“I think I was solid, I was able to win in two sets, but luckily I recovered with a crucial break in the first game (of the third),” analyzed the 35-year-old Serb.
“I’m happy with the way I’ve finished,” he added about a match he played without the protection on his right elbow that he had worn in previous weeks.
After not competing on the US tour (Indian Wells and Miami) due to not being vaccinated against covid, Djokovic injured his right elbow before returning to competition in Monte Carlo in early April, where he lost in the round of 16. He then fell in the quarterfinals of Banja Luka and did not play in Madrid.