Novak Djokovic is through into the fourth round at the Rome Masters. Novak faced Grigor Dimitrov in the third round and delivered a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory in two hours and 18 minutes for a place in the last 16. Djokovic defeated Dimitrov for the 11th time in 12 encounters, missing a chance to seal the deal in straight sets but fixing that with a strong performance in the decider.
The Serb described the third set as the most positive element of his victory, bouncing back after losing ground in the second set and bringing the victory home in style. Djokovic led 6-3, 4-2 before losing ground a bit, allowing his opponent to clinch four straight games in set number two and force a decider.
However, it was not enough for Grigor to emerge at the top, fading away from the court in the final set and remaining on one victory over his good friend. The Serb served at 70% and faced seven break points. He defended four and turned almost half of the return points into six breaks from 15 opportunities.
Djokovic hit 22 winners and 24 unforced errors and left the opponent on 27 winners and 40 mistakes.
Novak Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov in three sets in Rome.
The Bulgarian made a perfect start and broke the Serb at love in the encounter’s first game after Novak’s wild forehand.
Djokovic pulled the break back in game two and faced three more break chances in the next one. He denied them with quick points and held for a 2-1 lead. Novak grabbed his second consecutive break in game four and held with ease in games five and seven for 5-2.
The eighth game was the longest of the duel, and Grigor denied four set points to prolong the action. Novak left those chances behind and held at 15 at 5-3 to wrap up the opener. Djokovic grabbed a break in the second set’s third game and held three games later for a 6-3, 4-2 advantage after 80 minutes.
Dimitrov stayed composed and pulled the break back at love in game eight after Djokovic’s loose forehand to lock the result at 4-4. The Bulgarian held at love in game nine to move in front and rattled off his fourth straight game with another break in game ten to force a decider after an hour and 40 minutes.
Novak made a fresh start in the final set and served well, keeping the pressure on the other side. Grigor lost serve in the opening game following a double fault and sprayed a backhand error in the fifth game to find himself 4-1 behind.
Dimitrov served to stay in the match at 1-5 and placed a forehand wide to propel Djokovic over the top. “I was very solid and could have won in straight sets. I was a set and 4-2 up and had a decent forehand in the middle of the court at deuce on his serve.
I missed that. Grigor held his serve well, and we had new balls in the next game. I hit a double fault, the crowd got into it and got behind him, and of course, the energy and the match changed. I dropped my level a bit, but luckily I found it right away in the first game of the third set.
I made that crucial break and shifted the momentum to my side. I’m pleased with how I closed the match,” Novak Djokovic said.