Novak Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6 7-5 7-5 in the quarter-finals of the Italian Rome on Saturday afternoon in an epic three-set match over two days.
The match restarted after being halted on Friday evening due to rain, and they were brought back to finish the following morning. The Serbian struggled with his form as he made many more errors than he would have expected.
Tsitsipas already had a 6-4 lead from the first set, and he continued to push for a winner in the second set when he was broken in the third game as the rain kicked in, though the world number one kept in touch with him for much of the set.
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Djokovic gave himself the chance to level at 4-4 when he forced Tsitsipas to break point, and after a spirited attempt from the Greek fifth seed to rescue his service game, Djokovic was able to force through his advantage, and then held off his rival’s own attempt to break back, before securing the second set 7-5 to tee up a decider.
Tsitsipas then appeared to steady himself and moved into a 3-1 lead in the third set, but Djokovic fought back to parity, with the pair at 4-4, until the Serbian was broken to leave his opponent just one game from victory, only to see Djokovic broke back to rescue the match, and bring an exhausting match to an end when he claimed his seventh game.
Heavy rain stops play in Rome with Tsitsipas leading Djokovic
“There are many things to say about today or yesterday’s match. It kind of felt like we played two matches. The one yesterday, where he was the better player. He started better today also. I managed to somehow to hold my nerves [and] break his serve in the important moments in the second and third sets,” Djokovic said after the match.
“The support of the crowd was amazing. It was great to play in front of a crowd. Fantastic atmosphere. It was a bit of luck, a bit of mental strength and the right tactics at the right time. One shot, not even a point, one shot really decided the winner today. I am just glad to be on the better side.
“You can always fight, give your best and let God decide who takes the win. [Stefanos] was playing well. He is in fantastic shape, obviously winning Monte-Carlo and coming off of finals in Barcelona. I am just really, really glad to overcome this challenge. It was probably the toughest match of the year for me so far.”
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