Fighting deep to escape a slump is a crucial part of life on the ATP Tour, and Aslan Karatsev showed he’s ready for the fight at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Sunday afternoon. He does not. 34 saved a match point in the deciding set tiebreak to defeat Lloyd Harris in the first round of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome and book a second-round clash with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Karatsev’s form has slipped since he began the year with six straight wins and a third ATP Tour title in Sydney, with the 28-year-old going 2-10 since reaching the third round at the Australian Open. After splitting the first two sets, the match settled into a thrilling final-set tie-break, with Harris saving a match point at 5/6 before letting one of her own slip away at 7/6. Karatsev jumped at his second chance to clinch the match to move to 2-0 in the ATP Head2Head series. For his part, Filip Krajinovic got off to an impressive start to his Rome campaign as he eliminated Estoril finalist Frances Tiafoe with a 7-6(7), 7-6(4) win. The Serb clinched a dramatic first-set tie-break by converting his third set point and showed similar resolve in the same situation in the second set to move to 2-0 against the American on clay.
Djokovic will face Aslan Karatsev
Novak Djokovic failed to make it to the finals of the Madrid Open after losing his semifinal encounter against Carloz Alcaraz of Spain on Saturday. Tennis journalist Peter Bodo spoke on a podcast episode of Tennis Channel’s Inside-In show, speaking at length on how he views the Serb’s preparation going into the second Grand Slam of the year. “This was a big week for him. I think it’s a pity he didn’t get a chance to strut his stuff and get embroiled with Andy Murray which would have been a great occasion for us today,” Bodo said. Bodo expressed his reservations about Novak Djokovic’s fitness levels given the amount of time off the Serb has had and wondered how the vaccine controversy may have impacted his focus. “He had a lot of time off. He has been through a lot of what you might call adversity with the whole vaccine issues and stuff,” Bodo said. Getting back steadily to his optimum, Novak Djokovic will next play at the ATP Masters 1000 Rome. Entering the tournament as the top seed, he has received a first-round bye. Eyeing his 6th title in the Italian capital, Djokovic will kick-off his tournament campaign campaign from the second round.