The Serbian Novak Djokovic survived a scare in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open as he defeated Martin Del Potro 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 on Friday (local time) to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament. Djokovic saved two match points to fend off Del Potro’s attacking tennis play. The four-time Italian Open champion was leading 5-2 in the second set, but Del Potro made a stunning comeback and Djokovic had to save both match points in the tie-break, including one on Del Potro’s racquet.
“I never lost faith I could come back to the match. One break of serve, mini-break in the tie-break when he was 6/4, more or less open forehand that he was making the entire match, that’s all it took for me to come back,” Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) quoted Djokovic as saying. “He missed a couple of crucial points in the tie-break. Also breakpoint third set, quite easy forehand. That’s what happens. That’s a sport. I’m just really pleased to overcome,” he added.
Djokovic had beaten Del Potro in both of their prior ATP head to head matches on clay and seven of their past eight meetings. “I lost probably the positioning of the court over him. Towards the end of the first, he just started hitting the ball really well from both corners, also backhand side, backhand down the line. He was playing really well, gave me a lot of trouble,” Djokovic said.
Earlier, on Friday, Rafael Nadal defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 in the quarter-finals to advance to the semi-finals of the Italian Open. Djokovic will next take on Diego Schwartzman in the semi-finals whereas Nadal will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals.