Rome | Ruud crashes out; Djokovic suffers bottle incident

Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud where in second round action at the Rome Masters with the Serb progressing relatively comfortably and the Norwegian crashing out in dramatic fashion.

I’m happy that I was able [after the first set] to come back and win. Miomir Kecmanovic

Djokovic was basically making a return to the tour having skipped Barcelona and Madrid after losing to Ruud in the semis-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters who in turn, lost to Stefanos Titsipas in the final itself but went on to win the Barcelona title.

His loss on Friday was, consequently, a real surprise as he had made an excellent start to bagel Mionir Kecmanvic in 31-minutes only for the Serb to pull the match around in the second set and go on to claim a hard earned 0-6 6-4 6-4 victory.

The world No7 broke his opponent three times in that opening set but then completely collapsed in the second as the world No.58 returned the compliment by breaking the fifth seed three times in the second to force a decider!

There Kecmanovic broke once more and held to claim the match and a third-round meeting with Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro following what was one of the most remarkable comebacks ever witnessed.

“It means a lot, especially on clay, where he is one of the best players today,” Kecmanovic said of his performance.

“I’m happy that I was able [after the first set] to come back and win.”

He also revealed that he was suffering from some back ailment and had had to contend with that as well.

“I had some back problems [recently],” the 24-year-old added. “I asked the doctor for as many pills as he could give me to numb the pain.

“When it kicked in I started moving and feeling much better. I guess I just tried to forget about the score and just play and hit and see what happens. Luckily it went my way this time.”

Novak Djokovic got over the early problems

(Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images)

As expected, Djokovic, a six-time former champion of Rome, eased into the third round but had a few problems early on as Corentin Moutet broke him twice to pull ahead 3-1.

However once he had accustomed himself to the French leftie, Djokovic rolled through 6-3 6-1 after just 86-minutes.

Speaking after the match, the 36-year-old said: “Match play is different to practice sets.

“I played a lefty and I have not practised with a lefty in a while, so it took me a little time to adjust to the different rotations of the ball. The first four games were quite bad from me. A bad start. I lost both my services games.

“But then I played well. I only lost one game from 1-3 down. Corentin is a very talented player. He has great hands and is very unpredictable. You don’t know what comes up next, so I had to stay focused, which I did, and it is a good opening match.”

However,r the Serb did suffer an unfortunate incident when he started to walk off the Centre Court at the Foro Italico when he was struck by a bottle.

He was attended to on the ground immediately by medics and later the organisers issued a statement declaring that the Serbian’s ‘condition is not a cause for concern.’

On investigation it turns out the bottle fell out of a spectator’s backpack as he was attempting to exit the auditorium and not a disgruntled French fan!

In other action, Taylor Fritz (11) sealed his place in round three with a 6-3 6-4 win over Dan Evans’s first-round conqueror, Italy’s flamboyant Fabio Fognini, while world No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov (6) beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5 6-4.

Fritz will play his American compatriot Sebastian Korda while Bulgaria’s Dimitrov takes on the Frenchman Terence Atmane.

Also through is former champion Alexander Zverev who thumped Australia’s Aleksander Vukic 6-0 6-4.

Saturday’s schedule sees the two remaining Bits, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper in action as the second round in the bottom half of the draw, is played out.



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