Etcheverry in pursuit of idol Djokovic

Argentine relishes best major to date with former top 10 countryman on board

Tomas Martin Etcheverry, second round, Roland-Garros 2023© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Juan Monaco knows a thing or two about clay-court talent.

'Pico' cracked the top 10, lifted eight of his nine career titles on the terre battue and reached the fourth round twice at Roland-Garros during a stellar playing career.

Now, the Argentine is guiding another promising prospect from his nation, acting as agent and occasional hitting partner for Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

On Thursday, Etcheverry broke new ground at Grand Slams, launching into his first third round with a comprehensive 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 triumph over 18th seed Alex de Minaur, falling to his knees to take in a milestone moment.

"I'm so happy for him, he's a guy who for sure deserves this, he keeps working really, really hard since the beginning of the year," Monaco told

"He's had a great clay season, won some big matches against tough players to reach three finals.

"He's there, he has the level. Winning against the type of player like de Minaur is going to give him so much confidence, to think that he belongs here. He just needs to keep going to keep improving mentally and in strength."

Tomas Martín Etcheverry© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Last year was the first season the 49th-ranked Etcheverry featured in Grand Slam main draws.

His rise up the rankings since has been pretty rapid.

"Some players need more time than the others. We South Americans can develop a little bit late," Monaco said. "He's finding his moment is now. He's ready."

Sitting down with, Etcheverry could not help but smile throughout the brief chat.

"It's really a dream come true. I think it's my best tennis already, hopefully I have a chance in the next round," said the Argentine, ahead of his clash with 15th seed Borna Coric in the third round. "Hopefully I can keep focused and keep this level." 

It's a long way from playing on the beach as a four-year-old.

"My grandfather bought me the small wooden rackets and ball for the sand, which is very typical in Argentina" said Etcheverry, who grew up 20 minutes from the coast in La Plata, just south of Buenos Aires.

"For Christmas they gave me this gift and it started there. Then a lot of dedication and hard work."

Even though he was very young, Etcheverry singles out the 2004 men's final, an all-Argentinian affair, when Gaston Gaudio roared back 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6 against Guillermo Coria as his first memory of watching tennis.

Watching footage of that iconic final has prompted the 23-year-old to visualise being crowned champion himself on Court Phillipe-Chatrier.

While having no shortage of champions in the sport from back home, the main reason Etcheverry wields a racket is Novak Djokovic.  

In July 2016, he posed for a picture with a hand-written sign scribbling down his first ATP ranking point, compared to Djokovic's staggering 12,900 points. In April 2022, when Etcheverry burst into the top 100, he repeated it, highlighting his 714 points, 7706 behind the 22-time Grand Slam champion.

In May, just prior to Roland-Garros, Djokovic defeated Etcheverry 7-6(5), 6-2 at the Rome Masters.

"Maybe I can post a new one soon, in the next month, maybe if I can get to top 20," the world No.49 said.

"Novak is my idol, he's the main reason I went into tennis. When I changed to Head rackets I immediately said I need the rackets of Djokovic.

"We spoke a little bit after our match in Rome. He's such a nice guy, very easy, a legend."

His rise to competing in the Grand Slam arenas is testament to plenty of work with coach Walter Grinovero in La Plata, or at his second base in Miami, in the US. Hanging out with his friends and family provides the "energy" to train and travel worldwide.

It’s all jelling for the 23-year-old, who has defeated nine top 100 players en route to two tour-level finals - in Santiago and Houston - and a Challenger final in Bordeaux this year.

"At the start of the year I changed a lot in my game and since I've played incredible, especially on the clay. I just want to trust this tennis, to keep working on it, day by day," Etcheverry said.

"I want to be top 20 by the end of the year. If I continue like this I think I have a chance. I need to add more weapons to my game for sure, but now I focus on Roland-Garros."