Palmerbet Sports Team’s Best of the Day preview breaks down struggling legend Novak Djokovic’s clash with Alexandr Dolgopolov in Rome as the French Open looms large.
22:00 (AEST) @ Foro Italico, Rome
History: Played 5: Djokovic 5 V Dolgopolov 0.
Last meeting: ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati, 2015 (semi-final): Djokovic d Dolgopolov 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
The great Novak Djokovic is attempting to rectify his flagging fortunes on the ATP tour at the Italian Open, where he lines up against journeyman Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round.
The remarkable return of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to the top of men’s tennis over the past year and a half has coincided with Djokovic’s lamentable decline.
Plagued by injuries in 2017, the 12-time major winner failed to make it past the quarter-finals of any grand slam and missed the US Open.
He underwent elbow surgery after a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open in January and has suffered a string of first- and second-round losses to unseeded opposition to slip to No.12 in the world. He went down to rising Brit Kyle Edmund at the Madrid open last week.
Djokovic with quite possibly the worst shot in the history of the ATP pic.twitter.com/c2ZsWponCQ
— James Franco (@beaniash) May 7, 2018
del Potro:"I'd like to see Djokovic back in the place where he should be. I really like him, I really support him. It would be good for tennis to see again another great player, fighting up there for Grand Slams, fighting for No.1 with all the top players"#MMOPEN
— Ubitennis (@Ubitennis) May 6, 2018
Dolgopolov, who has been ranked as high as No.13 (in 2012), currently sits at No.57 in the world.
The 29-year-old Ukrainian made it to the third round of the Australian Open this year – losing to Diego Schwartzman – but has only played one game since, dipping out at the Grand Prix Hassan II in his opening assignment against world No.299 Andrea Arnaboldi.
— Zrypto (@_zrypto) April 28, 2018
Djokovic has won all five previous meetings against Dolgopolov, with three of the last four going to a deciding third set. They clashed at this tournament in 2013, with Djokovic claiming an easy 6-1, 6-4 victory in the Round of 16.
Djokovic is a four-time winner in Rome, taking out the Italian Open in 2008, 2011 and 2014-15. He is also a four-time runner-up, losing in the 2016-17 finals.
With the French Open less than two weeks away, this clay-court event looms as a crucial tournament for Novak Djokovic as he begins the long slog back to the top.
While the 30-year-old’s 2018 form has been massively concerning, a showdown with an out-of-sorts and underdone Alexandr Dolgopolov is an ideal way to start getting back on track.